Nicholas Barasch on Joining ‘Riverdale’ and What He Enjoys Most About Playing Julian

Nicholas Barasch brings the character of Julian Blossom to life in the seventh and final season of Riverdale. New episodes will continue to air Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on The CW.

CUPID’S CHECK LIST — After enlisting Archie’s (KJ Apa) help, Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) plan to fool her family spirals out of control. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) turns to Veronica (Camila Mendes) for help after finding himself in some trouble, and Betty (Lili Reinhart) gives Kevin (Casey Cott) an ultimatum.

I spoke with the actor about what it was like to join such a popular and beloved show during its final season, what fans can expect from his character going forward, his favorite upcoming episode, what he considers to be the highlight of this experience, Julian’s relationship with Cheryl, and much more. Keep reading for everything he shared!

Credit: Emily Assiran

What is it like to see the storylines and everything that you’ve created behind the scenes come to life on screen? It must be so cool to see the episodes finally get released and all of the fan excitement.
Nicholas Barasch: It’s pretty surreal. Yeah, I watched the first episode with my sister and her boyfriend and they’re very supportive, but also very neutral. I didn’t want to throw a party, it would just make me too nervous. I was already kind of watching through my hands, but it’s incredible. I mean, I was so pleased by the first episode. I think it was just fantastic. I really enjoy, of course, watching other people’s work. I mean, there was a scene with Lili and Vanessa, it was just so incredible. So a lot of the joy is watching other people’s work, but also I can look at myself and be like, “All right, that wasn’t bad.” There was one scene in the first episode that they cut that I was in and I was like, “Oh, wow, TV — anything can happen.” But it’s just been pretty amazing to watch it finally reach the world and reach the fans.

What did you know about Riverdale before getting the part? Did you watch it? Were you familiar with it?
I did know about it, of course, I really feel like you had to have been living under a rock for the last six years to not know about Riverdale. I auditioned for Archie, believe it or not, way back in the day here in New York but I wasn’t an avid watcher of it. So I knew about it. In prep for the audition, I obviously watched the pilot, which was incredible. But no, I didn’t know much. I knew that it was a drama. I knew that it was in high school. I knew that it was wildly popular. Not much beyond that, to be honest. So to step into that world was very exciting and intimidating. But yeah, it’s been quite the journey.

I feel like now is the perfect time for you to join if you haven’t seen it because it’s like whole new show. I feel like anyone can kind of jump in right now and just start watching it because we’re in the 1950s and everything’s been reset for now.
Yeah, it was a real blessing that I didn’t have to do tons and tons and tons of research on Julian and everyone who he’s had relationships with for six years. He really did not exist. So that was a blessing and yeah, to go back to the past and the 50s, everyone is just so excited on set with this choice, which has totally paid off and people are loving it, and slipping into that 50s vibe and the outfits, the cars, it’s pretty dreamy.

Before you wrap, you have to go find the Julian doll and take like a selfie with it. You have to.
I know, I really do. That doll is referenced a lot when I’m on set, when I’m off set. We’ll have to take a selfie at some point.

What have you enjoyed most about playing Julian? I feel like he must be so much fun to play with.
It’s been so wonderful, so delicious. For most of my acting career, I’m mostly pegged as more of the innocent, kind of wide-eyed, friendly dude and those are a lot of the roles that I get. So it feels like a wonderful challenge and a risk but also, we all have Julian inside of us, you know? To some extent, we can all get a bee in our bonnet about something that we want, we can all get confrontational sometimes. So it’s kind of like playing myself at my worst. Not that I would do any of the things that Julian has done, but you have to access the part of you that can hate or be mean or who doesn’t know better, who was raised by people who don’t set the best examples. There’s a lot going on there.

Credit: Emily Assiran

Who would you say you’ve sort of bonded with the most on set so far?
It’s actually hard to say, everyone is just so lovely, so kind. I mean, I have to say KJ in particular, he’s such an amazing leader. He’s number one on the call sheet, he has always made me feel so comfortable and you know, I have to get up in the face and hurl a lot of insults at him. So to do it to someone who’s just such a kind person, I have to give him a shout-out for sure.

Obviously, we see that Julian likes Veronica and she sort of has her sights set on Archie for right now. What can you tease about that going forward?
I mean, I would say that as an audience member, whatever you’re feeling out there, whether Veronica should go with Julian or Archie is probably correct. I would say that Julian is wiggling his way into the situations that he wants and Archie is a very tough competition, so that’s all I’ll say.

Which character dynamic or relationship has been the most fun for you to play with so far?
Another shout-out to Cami. I mean, she and KJ were really my first scene partners who I would do a lot of scenes with in the beginning, and then of course, Mads as my sister. But yeah, playing with Cami was so much fun, she’s such a good actor. It’s fun to just watch these people and learn from them, they’ve been doing it for so many years. I don’t have nearly as much experience so that was really my major goal going into this job just like, watch and learn, Nick, and try not to make a fool out of yourself.

So the summary for episode four has come out and it says, “After enlisting Archie’s help, Cheryl’s plan to fool her family spirals out of control.” What can fans expect from the Blossom family here? Where are we going with that storyline?
Yes, he is involved in that match in some way, shape, or form. I would say again, to the hardcore shippers, don’t stress too much if you’re not for Cheryl and Archie. I think that’s all I can say.

Listen, you know Cheryl and Toni is the one relationship that you don’t mess with.
No, you really don’t mess with Choni.

What has been the highlight of this experience for you so far?
I mean, really, it’s the people. The fact that I get to do more than one episode was a big blessing and I got to do a lot more than that. I have gotten to play with everyone and most of the whole series regular cast, most of the reoccurrings, for example, Shannon Purser, Nathalie Boltt, and Molly Ringwald. So getting to see everyone’s work has been such a blessing and everyone’s just so nice on set. I feel like I have a community there in Vancouver now. I’m a New Yorker, who knew that I would have new relationships that I’ve forged in Vancouver. It’s nice to have a routine I think, as a theatre actor, I love getting to the theater, getting to my dressing room, and doing my thing. And so, to be on the show for several episodes, you get into a rhythm like that. So, it’s a huge blessing.

Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Do you have any idea what Julian’s long term story is? The goal is to get back to the present and he wasn’t there, but honestly, with everything that Riverdale has thrown at the audience, I would not be surprised if you make it back to the present.
Honestly, I know nothing. That is the truth. I know up to a certain point in the season. But no, I don’t even know if we’re going back to the present. I can’t tell you that either and I certainly would be the last to know.

I mean, you’re having a lot of fun in the ‘50s. You had the sock hop and a make out party.
I know. That’s the one that I don’t want to watch with my parents. But yeah, that’ll be fun.

Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine filming that.
It was wild. It was a wild evening. I couldn’t believe that that was my job.

Have you gotten to interact with the fanbase at all?
Yeah, I mean, I’m not on Twitter anymore. But I’m on Instagram and I’ve been tagged in a few hilarious and very sweet Reels, I think. I’m such a grandpa, but I think they’re called Reels. Again, it’s such a wonderful thing that fans seem to really be rallying behind this season and you know, everyone’s nostalgic, everyone’s sad that it’s ending, so I’m trying to just take in as much positivity as I can.

I think it’s so fun for everyone to see Cheryl get a new brother and sister dynamic because we only really had Jason.
I know, I definitely can’t argue with the Jason diehards. I’m certainly not trying to replace him in any way. It’s much easier to like him, so that is just the truth,

It’s such a different dynamic though.
Totally. Madelaine and I have a blast just being brother and sister when the cameras are rolling and when they’re not. We have a kind of sibling rapport anyway. So it’s really fun to just play with her in that way and I have a sister, so I just have to draw on well.

It’s funny because I don’t know if you know this or someone’s joked with you about it, but at least you get to speak because Jason never really spoke on the show.
I’m very lucky to have some meaty, meaty scenes on this.

Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself while working on Riverdale?
I think I walk through the world — I’m an introvert and a people pleaser, I’m a recovering perfectionist. I move through the world very differently from Julian, so if he’s taught me one thing, it’s definitely sometimes, when it’s appropriate, take up more space. As far as an actor, like we touched on earlier, it was a huge, intimidating show to walk on. It’s like all of a sudden you’re on set with 100 extras and giant cranes in the sky, and then they say action and it’s a close-up on you. It’s scary, but I think I’m just getting better at the medium and getting better at walking on the set with confidence, and I get to have those experiences that will hopefully just make me better because I’m showing up every day. So, grateful for that.

Do you have any favorite filming moments or memories that stand out?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve mentioned episode three, I have to shout out to one of the scenes in that episode. It’s the make out party scene. It’s definitely that scene with the ten of us. I think it took ten hours to film cause it was a lot of coverage and you put ten 20-somethings in a room, many of whom have known each other forever and there’s gonna be a lot of giggles, there’s gonna be a lot of laughs. So, I was trying to wear my professional hat, but people were trying to make others break during their close-ups. I admit that I definitely broke at a certain point. But that’s what makes it so much fun and actually, for me, it loosens me up. The more we’re having fun in between action and cut, the more fun it’ll be when the cameras are rolling. So that was a very wild, fun day.

I have to ask, who got you to break?
Oh gosh, I think it was definitely one of the guys. I will not name them. I will say that the dudes were much more mischievous than the girls on that shoot.

Is there a musical episode this season? Can you say that?
I think that there’s a strong possibility.

Those are insanity.
I know and that’s what I hear. If and when it does happen, I am excited.

Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Do you have a favorite filming location or set?
I mean, all the sets are gorgeous. I love the front of the school because you have these iconic steps up to Riverdale High and often there are cars are out front, like my old Convertible. But we actually shot on location a few weeks ago, which was so fun. We kind of took over this random neighborhood in British Columbia and that was so much fun. I hadn’t shot on location like that in a long time, and the fact that the crew can set up all of these major trucks and wires everywhere, and there’s cranes in the sky, I literally don’t know how it comes together. I’ll never know.

We know Reggie is eventually coming back. Have you gotten to film any scenes with Charles Melton?
I will say I have a shot with Charles, yes, and that was a blast.

I need Reggie, Julian, and Archie playing off of each other in a scene.
Yep, there’s definitely some of that coming.

Do you have a favorite episode that you can tease for me?
You know what, I’m gonna say a strong episode five. I don’t think much is out there yet, but I will say it’s a different vibe and I think it’s genius. So I can’t wait. There was some of it in the trailer actually, originally.

How was it seeing the first trailer when it came out?
It was great. There’s one moment where I get punched and a lot of people thought it was Archie getting punched because we both have red hair. So that was hilarious that most people just assumed it was Archie. It’s not, getting punched was real fun and he deserves it, so I can’t argue with that.

Did you get to work with Erinn Westbrook as well? I know we’ve only gotten to see her in episode one so far.
Very briefly. She’s a sweetheart, we met in the cast tent probably my first week. But yeah, I loved her scene with Cole, the last scene of the first episode.

Everyone needed to grab their tissues for that one.
I know and I read the script, so I knew what happened and I totally forgot. I was so invested. I was like, “What’s gonna happen next?” I was like, “Nick, you read the script.”