Madelaine Petsch's audition for the role of Cheryl Blossom on The CW's adaptation of the Archie Comics universe, "Riverdale," left its producers "terrified" -- and she got the part.
Petsch, who has proven to be one of the show's breakout stars after three seasons, recently asked its casting director what convinced them to cast her in the surefire hit series and, during an exclusive sit-down interview with AOL's Gibson Johns at the launch of her M3 Privé Revaux eyewear collection, she revealed the story behind the wild audition that got her cast on the show.
"I went straight to the producers when I auditioned for Cheryl, because I had actually auditioned earlier that week for a different show they had. They were like, 'We already like her, so let’s see if she can do this,'" Petsch recalled. "So, I went in and, right when I did the first scene, they all stood up and said, 'She’s got the role!' So I had these champions along the way to the studio and the network, but I asked them recently what it was about me [that got me the part] and he said, 'We didn’t know what we were going to get from you. We never knew. You were a little scary, but a little cool, and you made a weird fashion choice and we loved it. We were terrified of you in the best way.'"
"It was cool to hear, because I didn’t know that was how it was reading, because I was just doing what felt like her, but obviously it resonated," she went on. "I just love being her and giving that delivery, and we’ve all collaborated on creating Cheryl."
As for the notable ensemble that she wore while nabbing the role that changed the course of her career, Petsch is "bummed" because she "got rid of it."
"It was a blue very tight long-sleeved turtleneck crop-top, and then this weird suspenders skirt that went down into a flow-y skirt to the knee in black-and-white pinstripes," she laughed. "Unexpected as hell, with lace booties. Who is she? We don’t know. I would probably never choose to wear that now, which is probably a good thing."
'Riverdale' star Madelaine Petsch
'Riverdale' star Madelaine Petsch
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 09: Madelaine Petsch attends the launch of M3, her second capsule collection with Privé Revaux at The Butterfly Bar on May 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Privé Revaux)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 09: Madelaine Petsch enjoys the launch of M3, her second capsule collection with Privé Revaux at The Butterfly Bar on May 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Privé Revaux)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Madelaine Petsch leaves the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2020 Fashion Show at JFK Airport on May 8, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Actres Madelaine Petsch is seen outside good morning america on May 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 6: Madelaine Petsch attends The Metropolitan Museum Of Art's 2019 Costume Institute Benefit "Camp: Notes On Fashion" at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Madelaine Petsch attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala 2019 in New York, USA. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/PA Images via Getty Images)
US actress Madelaine Petsch arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York. - The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute. The Gala's 2019 theme is Camp: Notes on Fashion" inspired by Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on Camp". (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Actress Madelaine Petsch attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 91st Academy Awards at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - MARCH 03: Actress Madelaine Petsch speaks on stage during day 3 of Fan Expo Vancouver at Vancouver Convention Centre on March 03, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Madelaine Petsch attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Madelaine Petsch attends the 12th Annual Women In Film Oscar Party at Spring Place on February 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: Actress Madelaine Petsch attends the 2018 GQ Men Of The Year party at Benedict Estate on December 06, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic,)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 06: (L-R) Marisol Nichols, Camila Mendes, and Madelaine Petsch attend the 2018 GQ Men of the Year Party at a private residence on December 6, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for GQ)
WESTWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 01: Actress Madelaine Petsch attends the world premiere of Sony Pictures Animation and Marvel's "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" at The Regency Village Theatre on December 01, 2018 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 19: Actress Madelaine Petsch attends the premiere of Netflix's "Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina" at the Hollywood Athletic Club on October 19, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 20: Madelaine Petsch attends Prada Spring/Summer 2019 Womenswear Fashion Show on September 20, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Prada)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Madelaine Petsch attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Madelaine Petsch attends Glamour x Tory Burch Women To Watch Lunch on September 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Glamour x Tory Burch )
US actress Madelaine Petsch attends the Teen Choice Awards 2018 in Los Angeles, California, on August 12, 2018. (Photo by LISA O'CONNOR / AFP) (Photo credit should read LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Looking back to that time, before "Riverdale" became an international sensation with fervent fans to rival that of any other teen show that has launched into the zeitgeist in the past, Petsch told AOL that she could never have imagined the impact that it would've had on both her own career and the lives of its fans.
"It’s almost like, 'Wow, she had no idea.' Do you know what I mean?" Petsch said of her younger self. "I remember watching the pilot air on January 27, we were all together, and I remember not having any idea what any of it meant and just feeling the passion for the project and the character, but I had no idea what was coming. I felt like we had been living under a rock for a year filming a show that no one would ever see. Then, all of a sudden, people love the show and it’s been an amazing ride so far."
As for something that has particularly resonated with "Riverdale" fans, Petsch pointed to somewhat unexpected -- but totally swoon-worthy -- relationship between her character, Cheryl, and Toni Topaz, who were given the couple name, Choni. The actress said that she's heard from viewers who were inspired by the same-sex relationship to come out in their real lives, which is something that she is still wrapping her mind around.
"Something that’s really memorable and special that I hear from fans is when I hear that Choni’s storyline and Cheryl coming out has made them comfortable in coming out," she said. "Being able to share that experience with a fan, knowing that my art has inspired them to make their lives better in some way, is incredible. The fact that the art that I make affects people’s real lives is just amazing. The people that we’ve created mean something to other people, and that’s what I love."