'Riverdale' Season 3: Gina Gershon to Play Jughead's Mom

Gershon's character, a "Serpent with a GED," will be introduced a couple months into the show's third season, creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed Sunday.
Steven Ferdman/gettyimages
Gina Gershon

Riverdale’s third season is expanding the Jones family.

During a New York Comic Con panel Sunday, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced that Gina Gershon has been cast as Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) mother, while newcomer Trinity Likins will play his sister. Both are recurring roles, and both will debut on the Dec. 12 episode of the CW series.

Gershon’s character, Gladys Jones, is described as a "Serpent with a GED," a businesswoman who runs the salvage yard (chop shop) that doubles as a Serpent compound. In Oliver Twist terms, she acts as the Fagin to a crew of teenage car parts thieves, and the Serpents all snap to attention when she gives them an order.

Jughead’s sister, Jellybean “JB” Jones, is wise beyond her years and already an accomplished con artist. She lives with her biker mom in Toledo, Ohio, where they run scams to make ends meet.

Season three of Riverdale, set to debut Wednesday, picks up soon after the dramatic climax of season two, which saw Archie (KJ Apa) being framed by Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) and taken into custody. During Sunday's panel, Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that True Detective was an influence on the new season.

"One thing we missed a bit in season two was Betty [Lili Reinhart] and Jughead as investigators, working together to solve a mystery," he said. "I love the first season of True Detective, which had a weird occult murder mystery, so we thought it'd be fun to see our teen detectives in a True Detective-like plot. It’s a pretty dark, very twisted."

Reinhart added that "the Bughead investigative duo" is a major part of the season, and Aguirre-Sacasa called the investigation a "very romantic thing that they can share together."

"I would describe the main mystery in the first half of this season as sort of an epidemic in Riverdale," Reinhart said. "It involves everyone in the town, and it’s kind of a crisis." She teased a scene in the season three premiere that puts Betty in "quite a vulnerable state" and added that the episode ends on a huge cliffhanger.

"There's this being called the Gargoyle King who’s sort of tormenting Riverdale, especially the kids," said Aguirre-Sacasa. "He ends up on the Supreme Court one day," Luke Perry joked, drawing loud applause from the crowd.

Following the revelation that her father Hal Cooper is The Black Hood, the mass murderer who terrorized Riverdale last season, Reinhart said Betty is trying hard to distract herself. "She maybe wants to forget that her dad is a serial killer, so she's gonna distract herself as much as she can with an internship. She has her head down, just trying to get through the summer and distract herself from that."

While Reinhart said that the Bughead romance is "so far, so good," fans of "Varchie" (Veronica and Archie) may have more reason to worry.

"I don't think it's looking too good for old Varchie this season," Apa said. "Their relationship will definitely be put to the test this season." As for the relationship between FP (Skeet Ulrich) and Alice (Madchen Amick), Amick promised that there’s "some good Falice stuff happening" and hinted that Alice will be distracting herself from the revelation about her husband by "rolling around with a snake, maybe."

Of the season’s much-anticipated flashback episode, which will see the four core actors playing young versions of their characters' parents, Aguirre-Sacasa said the idea had been in the works for a long time. "It was finally the right time to do it," he said. "It kind of moves through time and you see the kids as they were, before they became friends, you see why they became friends, and then you see why they came apart. It's really moving, and I think people will be surprised by it."

Asked about the real-life friendship and chemistry between the young cast, Reinhart said, "It wasn't instant. I think we all had to warm up to each other. KJ and Cole thought I was a bitch."

As Apa protested, Reinhart continued, "You guys did, because she doesn't want to go out, she doesn’t drink." Apa then interjected: "The only reason I was like that is I was 18, it was my first time out of New Zealand, you guys are all Americans and I'm the only foreigner, so for me it was kind of gnarly [at first]."

Reinhart agreed that Apa was initially "very shy and in his own little world. Everyone was great and nice to each other, but it took a little bit to form that bond. Now we're just the best friends."