Madelaine Petsch Teases 'Riverdale' Final Season, Promises an 'Insane' Ride (Exclusive)

The actress dishes to ET about working with Chloe Bailey on 'Jane' and shares her thoughts on Cheryl's superpowers.

Madelaine Petsch is closing one chapter of her career with the upcoming final season of RiverdaleThe CW announced in May that the hour-long Archie Comics drama would wrap up after seven seasons, with the last episodes premiering some time in 2023. For Petsch, who stars and executive produces the new thriller, Jane, being a part of the roller coaster that is Riverdale over the last several years -- with storylines involving cults, Gargoyle Kings and superpowers -- has been an unforgettable ride.

"I've learned with Riverdale that we really lean into what the least expected route is. That's kind of what it's always been. So I've gotten more comfortable with just going with the flow on the show because I really don't know if I'm going to be on wires in the middle of the night [or] fighting a comet the next day," Petsch recently told ET's Will Marfuggi while promoting Jane.

The most recent season saw Petsch's Cheryl Blossom gaining phoenix powers to successfully take out the comet threatening to take out her friends (and the world). They're then transported to the 1950s where the crew finds themselves as teenagers again with Jughead the lone member remembering everything that happened before.

"I enjoy it. I love stunts and I love doing work like that, so to me, to have another one under my belt was fun. You just go along with the flow on that show and if you lean into it and you find the fun of it, then it's all gravy and fun," Petsch added, teasing what may be to come when season 7 opens. "Who knows if Cheryl survived the comet blast? She was real close to that. I guess we'll find out in season 7 of Riverdale!"

The actress acknowledged that being on Riverdale has taught her to expect the unexpected, and also opened up a world of possibilities of what she'd like to pursue professionally once the show ends. 

"I think if you would've asked me two years ago, I would have a full five-year plan to present to you. But I'm just trying to go with the flow a little bit more and find projects that speak to me, that I'm going to have fun doing and keep the love for my art alive," Petsch said, describing Riverdale like "a boot camp."

"The words are insane, what we do is insane and we all lean into it and I get to do it with my best friends," she continued. "With the end of that chapter coming to the beginning of my near future, I'm just mostly looking forward to what I have to do next and also going to miss my best friends."

Jane is one of those projects that spoke to Petsch. The movie, which co-stars Chloe Bailey and Melissa Leo, follows high school senior Olivia (Petsch), who struggles with grief from the recent loss of a friend. When she gets deferred from her dream college, she begins to spiral and experiences a series of frightening panic attacks. In an attempt to regain a sense of control, she embarks on a social media-fueled rampage against those who stand in the way of her success. As things escalate, she's forced to confront and embrace her darkest impulses in order to get ahead.

"I've been wanting to produce for quite some time. I feel like I've been on set for a long time now in Riverdale, and I've seen what works and what doesn't work," the 28-year-old said of putting on her producing hat for the film. "When Jane came along, I came across the script before it was really anywhere and so I was able to work with the director [Sabrina Jaglom] and we had the same vision for the character very early on. It wasn't like I necessarily sought Jane out to produce it, it was more like all the pieces fit together in a really lovely way where this just happened to be my first project producing. It was so early into the project that I was able to come in and really do that."

Petsch praised her co-star, Bailey, saying she was "beyond excited" to cast her in the movie. "I have been a fan of hers when it was Chloe x Halle a long time ago," she explained. "I've always loved her work. We did a chemistry read and she just really brought it, and I have to say her performance is phenomenal. She blew me out of the water. I'm excited for her and her future film career. She's truly a force."

"I've always championed people's careers, I've always wanted everyone to succeed. There's really no competition in my body, but working on the other side helped me see it through the lens of a producer and why we pick certain people and what works and what doesn't," Petsch said, "and putting together a cast in a really important way that speaks to the story. I didn't really understand that before as well as I do now, so that was really helpful. But it's funny, the minute you see somebody who gets it, you just know. Like, the minute... Chloe Bailey came on and did two lines, it was her."

Petsch also addressed whether she saw parallels in Jane, where the titular character goes to great lengths to get into her dream college, to her real-life ambitions of achieving success in Hollywood as an actress.

"The thing that I focused on the most was the idea of the lead character being an antagonist. To be able to tackle that as somebody in Hollywood, not needing to make your character likable while also her goal is to be likable, is so interesting. It's such a strange internal fight that you have to master in a really weird way," she said. "To me, it was mostly about figuring out that trajectory. It had nothing to do with, like, the synonyms of Hollywood."

"When you're in a movie like this, there was no world in which she could be likable," Petsch said of Jane. "She was a demon and that is what she is. I think that's fun to play, but I don't look for characters that are specifically likable or that aren't likable. I just look for projects that I feel like are going to be artistically fulfilling and exciting for me to do."

Jane premieres in select AMC theaters Friday, Aug. 26 and will stream exclusively on Creator+ starting Friday, Sept. 16.