'Riverdale' Star Lili Reinhart Says She'll Never Do Another 22-Episode Series—for a Very Good Reason

·12 min read
<p>Kevin Winter/Getty Images</p>

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Lili Reinhart, the Riverdale TV series standout and Hustlers movie actress, 25, takes on a role with a parallel-lives twist in Look Both Ways (Aug. 17 on Netflix). The film follows her character, Natalie, through two divergent paths: One Natalie moves back home to Texas when she discovers on the eve of college graduation that she’s pregnant; the not-pregnant Natalie follows her plan to move to L.A. and pursue a career.

What appealed to you about the concept of parallel realities?

I remember finishing the script and feeling a sense of comfort that Natalie had a beautiful journey in both lives. As someone with a lot of anxiety and a lot of decisions to make, there was comfort in knowing that what is meant to be for you will happen. Your life can play out in multiple ways.

Related: Lili Reinhart Plays Brainy, Complicated YA Enigma in Chemical Hearts

Did you approach each Natalie differently?

I didn’t really look at them as two different people. As far as who she was at the core, she’s the same girl. She just had to grow up faster and sacrifice more as a mother, but it was basically playing one character for me.

Do you believe in fate or destiny?

I’m not quite sure. I think it’s lofty to think, Oh, you’re meant to have this certain career, you’re meant to end up with this person. But I think there’s 7 billion people on the planet, and every day you have the opportunity to meet someone who’s going to stay in your life forever. I think there are multiple people for everyone. I think we’re lucky when we find someone, but the world is so big and vast that it’s a little comforting to remind yourself that it’s not just one and done if you don’t end up with who you think the love of your life is.

Which Natalie did you most relate to?

Personally, I related to L.A. Natalie more because that’s where I ended up. I’m in L.A. and I very much chose my career in pursuit of that. Not that Texas Natalie didn’t pursue her career—she very much did. But I’ve never been pregnant; never had to make that decision.

At the end of the day, it’s so interesting to me when I hear people tell me which one they liked better. “Oh, I would have wanted that life,” or “I would have wanted that life.” I think what is so great about the film is at the end you don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to play out.

Both Natalies had five-year plans. Is that something you ever thought about?

I don’t think I had a five-year plan, but I grew up in Cleveland, and, growing up, I thought I was going to be married by 25, which is how old I am now. And maybe having kids at 28 or something. And now that I am 25, that’s such a horrifying thought to me. That’s so not where I want to be right now. But I definitely had an idea of, “Oh, if my career doesn’t get to a certain place by a year or a few years, then I’m going to pursue something else.” I gave myself timelines in my life growing up. Like if this wasn’t going to work out and I couldn’t make a living, I’m going to need to pursue something else.

Most of us don’t have parallel lives, but occasionally we get a do-over. If you could have a do-over, is there something that you would change?

Honestly, and this is a boring answer, but I don’t necessarily believe in regret or do-overs because that’s how we learn. I think that’s one of the biggest ways that we learn. So anything that I have done in the past that I consider a mistake or, “Oh, I should have done that differently,” I’m always thankful for it. Because I learn and that’s how I grow, that’s how I become smarter, and that’s how I ended up meeting the people that are in my life now. Everything’s a chain reaction. This is a result of this, which is a result of this. And so, I don’t have any do-overs.

Riverdale is coming to an end. What does that show mean to you?

I started the show when I was 19. When it ends, I’ll be 26 and still have my whole life ahead of me. I’m very thankful for what it’s given me. It will be incredibly bittersweet when it’s over, but I’m excited to see what my life looks like outside of the show.

Is there something about playing Betty that you’ll miss?

I love Betty. I really do. I admire her ability to stay motivated. I admire her ability to not be so depressed in such a depressing little town, and the fight that she has in her. I really do. I will miss playing her so much. This last season, I’m very much going to take advantage of my last episodes as Betty.

Would you do another series? And if you don’t want to do one immediately, maybe sometime in the future if the right role came along?

With my production company, we have a couple series in development for me to be a part of, but right now they’re limited series. So I think for my future, limited series is where the heart is. I love television, but I think my heart mostly lives in film, and so that’s what I’ll probably be mostly pursuing. I would not sign on ever again for another 22-episode series. I will say that loud and proud. I think it is a very old-school way of television and it’s not a very sustainable way of living, to be honest. I’m thankful for it, glad I had the opportunity, but will not be doing that again. There’s no life-work balance in that.

What are you looking forward to doing when Riverdale ends? Is there something that you’ve been putting off because you’ve had this commitment?

A lot. Due to filming and then due to COVID, I’ve missed some weddings and a funeral. It’s been difficult, but I am going on vacation this summer. I’m going to Maui.

I haven’t been on vacation in a long time, so I’m looking forward to that. As of right now, my summer, is work-free and I’m not filming anything. I haven’t had that in a while, and I’m going to really enjoy traveling, enjoy my home, my friends and seeing my family, who I really don’t get to see that often. Kind of the boring stuff, but the stuff that your soul needs.

You also starred in the movie Hustlers with Jennifer Lopez. What did you learn from her that you’re taking away with you?

I think Jen was really inspirational to watch, from the standpoint of being a young woman in the industry watching someone who’s been in the industry for so long understand her worth. She’s someone who understands her value and the value of her time. And so that’s something I walked away thinking, Wow, that woman is a badass and she understands what she brings to the table.

She comes to work, she has a job, she does her job and she does it well. She doesn’t question herself. She knows that she belongs there, and she knows that she has earned the career that she has and the power that she has. But not in an ego-fueled kind of way; she very much has her head on her shoulders. She just knows her power. That’s very inspiring to me.

Being on Riverdale has given you this huge social media following. And when I first Googled to find out more about you, one of the things that kept popping up was your criticism of Kim Kardashian’s extreme dieting. It made me wonder, how much do you have to think about what you put out there to your followers? And how do you decide what to share?

It’s a loaded question, because before I posted my comments about her actually, very much the thought that went through my head was, I really do not want 20 articles about this to come up. Is that a risk that I’m willing to take in order to share my opinion about something? And I decided at the end of the day, “Yeah.” I am very outspoken when it comes to body image and mental health. And I think there’s a lot of people in the limelight, who don’t take responsibility to be good role models for struggling youth.

And since I consider myself a struggling youth with mental health, with depression and severe anxiety, and lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of disordered eating personally, [the story of the diet Kim Kardashian undertook to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress] really triggered me. When that happens, I kind of see red a little bit and I’ve just got to go for it. I’ve got to speak my mind, and if it gets me in hot water, that’s fine. I will walk away knowing that I spoke my truth and that’s OK. It’s something I won’t regret.

I really wish that I could say things without them becoming clickbait. First of all, I don’t think my opinion is really important enough to be an article like that. That’s maybe a little bit imposter syndrome, but I just don’t. I’m like, “Can my opinion just live on my own platform where people who follow me can see it? If they agree, great. If they don’t, great. I don’t need it to be something larger than life.” I definitely don’t do it for attention.

The attention and backlash obviously cause me a lot of anxiety. So I never post something going, “Oh, I hope this becomes something,” an article or whatever. I don’t want that. It’s more so that I am a very opinionated person, especially a mental health warrior. So when it comes to something that is important along the lines of talking about losing weight to fit in a dress, I’m going to have to say something.

You are the author of Swimming Lessons, a book of poetry. How did that start?

Honestly, I think it was feeling that you can only do so much other stuff creatively when you’re on a show. And so, it was a little bit of like, “What can I do outside of Riverdale that I have creative control over?” I had been writing poems and poetry for years on the notes in my phone and in my journals. Speaking about do-overs, again I don’t have regrets, but I do think if I could go back in time and tweak something, I maybe would not have published a book so early.

I think I published it before I was ready emotionally. And also, I published it before I felt more confident in my writing. I think a lot of people assume because I’m actor, “Oh, she just published a book because she can publish a book.” And, well, sure, that definitely helps. I don’t think anyone would have really looked at my poetry as something special necessarily unless I was who I am, and I very much acknowledge that.

So in my small circle of friends, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m a poet. I’m romantic,” whatever. But I don’t go out into the world going, “I’m a published author. I’m a poet.” Because I do think personally, I published that book before I was ready, to be honest. Going back, would I not publish it at all? Maybe. But it’s out there.

I’ve written a lot since then, and I would love to share those someday, but maybe not in book form, maybe more of just like, “It’s on a website, go read it if you want.”

Is it true you considered becoming a makeup artist as a possible plan B?

If I didn’t become an actress, I was interested in going to makeup school. I was really into special effects when I was a teenager, so I have a bunch of special effects makeup and face paint at my house. It’s something I definitely enjoy doing. I’m better at doing it on myself though than other people, so I don’t know how fruitful of a career that would be.

Now with your own production company, what kinds of limited series and movies are you looking to do?

I’m lucky that I’m in a position now where I can produce my own content. It is amazing and I’m so grateful to have my first-look deal at Amazon. So right now, we hopefully have a limited series that I’ll be shooting after Riverdale, which is unfortunately very relevant to what’s happening with Roe v. Wade right now about a young woman. And I very much love period pieces, so there’s an exciting period piece on the horizon for me that I can’t say anything about, but I’m very excited.

Is there something other than acting that you’re passionate about?

I’ve been really tapping into my own spirituality the last two years, which was very much kicked off by COVID and forced introspection. I have enjoyed exploring that side of life and finding other people who share the same views and talking about it. It’s kismet that I did a movie about parallel lives when I’m very much into the universe and quantum leaping.

Related: The Story of Riverdale Isn't Over! What We Know About the CW Series' Upcoming Season 7