'Nancy Drew': Riley Smith Says Discovering Nancy's Secret Is 'Ryan's Wake-Up Call' (Exclusive)

Nancy Drew
The CW

Warning: Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's episode of Nancy Drew. You are about to enter spoiler territory.

Where does Nancy Drew go from here?

The CW's freshman mystery drama kicked off its final two episodes of the season, unexpectedly cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak, in dramatic fashion, picking up right where it left off. Only this time, Nancy (Kennedy McMann) was the one to reveal reveal her secret to the last person still in the dark over her true identity: Nancy's biological father, Ryan Hudson (Riley Smith). 

It played out in classic Nancy Drew style, with the amateur sleuth persuading Ryan to help her with a favor (it turned out to be a blood spell to try and kill the Aglaeca spirit haunting her and her friends) in exchange for her assistance in his desperate search for answers to Lucy Sable's death (even though Nancy had all the answers he was looking for). All while dealing with the aftermath of the stunning bombshell that she's not really a Drew. Yeah, a lot for a 19-year-old to deal with. But Nancy's true identity came out after Ryan put two and two together after he found Nancy's lost locket, containing a photo of her as a baby that looked suspiciously similar to Lucy's baby picture. 

With Nancy's relationship with Carson Drew (Scott Wolf) on thin ice and her blood connection to Ryan confirmed, what does this mean for the future? ET hopped on the phone with Smith to break down Wednesday's momentous episode, where Nancy and Ryan -- as well as Nancy's fractured bond with Carson -- go from here and what we can expect from next week's makeshift finale.

ET: By the end of the episode, Ryan learns that Nancy is his biological daughter. What's running through his mind at that point? What is his next move? 

Riley Smith: The way they executed it I thought was so interesting because I knew that Ryan was the father and I knew that it was going to be broken down in this episode. I actually thought Ryan was going to find out in the last episode and I would find out with the audience. It was hard for me to actually grasp at first that everyone was going to find out before Ryan. As an actor, that's tricky to play because now everybody knows but you. It was tricky. And right away as an actor, I'm like, How am I going to play this? It's delicate because everybody knows but him, but the more I dug into it and that scene that Nancy and I have by the stairwell where she tells me, we did so many different ways. I have no idea how it came out but I can't wait to see it. The way it was written was so unique and interesting. It could have been revealed so many different ways and after I had time to digest it, it was the coolest reveal that I could have imagined.

How would you describe Ryan and Nancy's relationship, or lack of one, moving forward now that they both know they're blood-related? They're connected forever, no matter what.

I think it's going to take some time for them to figure out how they can fit in each other's lives. I think Nancy first needs to decide if this is something that she wants in her life. And I think Ryan is grappling with the reality that he might have had a different life than if he'd known and he lost that opportunity. This is Ryan's wake-up call of how he can change his life. I think that he's always going to be, because of his family, in some sort of trouble. But I do think it's going to change who he is and how he's been carrying himself and some of the choices that he's made. You're going to see Ryan try to make some better choices because he wants to have a relationship that he didn't have [before with Nancy].

There was a bit of shame when Nancy tells Ryan that she didn't want him to know the truth because of his reputation, his family and all the baggage that he carries with him. Is that a motivator for Ryan to prove her wrong, that he can evolve out of what Nancy sees him in?

Yeah, of course. And it's hard. It's hard for Ryan to realize that she doesn't want anything to do with him or his blood. And that's going to be a driving force for Ryan to try to earn some respect and earn some trust and earn a relationship.

Nancy Drew
The CW

When do you think Nancy and Ryan will be ready to sit down and have that coffee? Do you think that that's wishful thinking at this point?

Yeah. The fun part about this dynamic now is it's probably going to be two steps forward and one step back or maybe two steps back and one step forward. Who knows? I have no clue when that's going to happen. 

There's a lot of tension between Ryan and Carson. I mean, there was already tension before and now this just amplifies that. Where do they stand now? How do you think things will be between them?

In the scene where we're in front of the car at the very end of the episode and he confronts me, in the initial script, they had me punching him.

Oh really? Wow.

Yeah. I called the writers and I said, "Look, I get that Ryan's pissed off. Carson literally just stole his daughter for 18 years, knew about it and never told him. It's stealing. But I get that you want Ryan to be angry and that's justifiable. But where's the anger come from? It comes from hurt, it comes from betrayal. Let's show that before we show anger because anger is, I think, old Ryan. It's a knee-jerk bully thing. I don't think Ryan was the aggressor in this situation. I just thought that he's trying to digest all this and we need to show hurt and betrayal before we show anger." Luckily, they changed it and that's what came out of it. I thought it was a much more of a subtle move in the right direction for Ryan right off the bat rather than going the other way right away. But Carson and Ryan, they have a long ways to go, I think. But again, they both want the same thing, which is the well-being of Nancy because they're her two fathers.

By the end of the hour, Owen Marvin is dead and we know Ryan isn't too fond of his competition and he would do anything to cut him out. Should we be putting Ryan as a possible suspect or am I just completely off base here? 

What's cool about the show is that the show dangles silly little carrots that it's fun to bite onto them. Lately, I've seen a lot of people who have tweeted at me and said, "Oh my god, I had to go back and watch all the episodes again to see if there are clues about you being the dad," which we put in some here and there.

What is a clue you incorporated into your portrayal of Ryan that we may have not picked up?

One of the things that I did in beginning of the season was I started watching Kennedy's mannerisms. I was like, I can just pick up on something they Kennedy does that I could do that will maybe somehow tease the people that can see... Oh, biologically they're the same. It's something that Kennedy and Nancy does with her eyes when she's putting clues together, and I was telling Melinda [Hsu Taylor], our writer, about this and I'm like, "She does this thing with her eyes when she's putting clues together. She looks side to side and then she gets it and she looks up and that's her 'aha' moment."

And so I started doing that. I was like, it doesn't really matter what comes first, the cart or the horse, but if we're both doing it then maybe it's a biological trait that got passed down. And so Melinda redid the script. And it was literally in the scene. I'm talking to Nancy as we're walking down the stairs and I'm putting the pieces together about Lucy and she does this thing, just like you with the eyes. It's going to be so much fun to see where it goes. 

The show was forced to cut production short on the season due to the current coronavirus situation. Does next week's episode end in a way that could serve as a natural finale? 

Yeah. The way it all shut down was so weird, so we're all trying to process it and make sense of it now. I heard some things today about how they're moving some of the episodes that we were already going to do this year to next year. But I think that there are some things that are going to be concluded by [episode] 18. 

How would you describe next week's episode/finale?

We're going to have a lot of things tied up and then we're going to open up some new things that are going to take us into the future of the show and second season.

Nancy Drew airs its freshman finale Wednesday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

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