The Riverdale star covers the AW20 issue of Rollacoaster
“I think we all as human beings, make mistakes.” Lili Reinhart candidly says. “It’s just that when you have eyes on you, your mistakes become public and people comment on them, and that’s horrifying, it really sucks.”
Lili Reinhart is well and truly over the misconception painted and printed about her in the media, she states to me as we talk dealing with fame. As I get on the phone with the Riverdale star, the actress is wading her way through hordes of emails while preparing to take a red-eye back to see her family across the country. “It’s not something I usually do!” She laughs. “So hopefully, I can pass out and just wake up there!”
After months of quaranting at home and preparing for the launch of her highly anticipated poetry book Swimming Lessons, Reinhart is ready for some well-deserved rest and family time. Having worked towards her self-produced adaptation of Krystal Sutherland’s Our Chemical Hearts over the past year, Reinhart has never felt more herself and is ready to open a new chapter. “It was amazing; I really enjoyed executive producing. I like to be in control of things. Maybe it’s the Virgo in me![…] I loved every second of it. I really did, and I’m grateful that Amazon gave me the opportunity to executive produce and put their faith in me having never done it before. They were incredibly supportive, and they were taking me seriously. I’m young, and I’m doing this for the first time, but they completely were on board with me and valued what I brought to the table, so itwas a great experience.”
Chemical Hearts is not your typical YA rom-com with out of touch teenagers dealing with first-world problems, if that is what you’re expecting from the adaptation. Instead, the film navigates its way through the perils of loss and heartbreak, intricately weaved in with the ferocity of dicovering your first love and dealing with depression. The film follows young aspiring writer Henry (Austin Abrams) whose eyes suddenly focus on the enigmatic and mysterious newcomer Grace (Reinhart). With her tattered copy of 100 Love Sonnets in hand and Henry’s unbroken heart, the two teenagers enter a complicated relationship filled with unaddressed depression and trauma. “I wanted to do something that felt more real, something that didn’t have a happy ending,” Reinhart says as I ask her why she cose this film. “There’s a lot of unrequited love stories, but this one I think is different in a sense that you’re seeing someone hold onto the idea of a person of who they could be rather than that who they are. I think a lot of us do that unknowingly until you realise, ‘Oh, I’m actually trying to change someone’ or’I’m trying to push someone in the direction that betters me rather than going at their pace and doing what they want to do.'”
Getting into a dark character like Grace was not without difficulty Reinhart assures me — but that was what drew her to the role. From exploring raw and impassioned emotions to diving into a pool of painful memories awash with physical disabilities and intense therapy, Reinhart took a different approach to the role in preparation. “I really isolated myself a bit. It’s interesting because I really had one of the best times of my life filming this movie and yet I was playing someone who was grieving and depressed, and I very much was trying to lean into that. I’m not a method actor by any means, but I really just wanted to put myself into a mindset that made it easy to feel the real feelings of grief and I allowed myself to be sad.”
As Reinhart and I unpack the mental health aspect of the film, we breakdown the nuances of dealing with fame, her forthcoming debut poetry book and what we can expect from the upcoming seasons of Riverdale.
DS: What have you been up to this lockdown? Have you been busy?
LR: I’ve been busy over the last few weeks promoting my book and my movie; things have definitely been picking up, I’ve been doing a lot of zooms and a couple of photoshoots. I’m aslo gearing up to go back to Riverdale, so I’ve been getting my life in order before I have to head back.
DS: Must be getting exciting to be going back because you stopped filming quite abruptly?
LR: We were in the middle of an episode actually, and then things shut down. It’s going to be interesting going back; I’m sure there’s going to be so many safety precautions in place. I think it’s going to be very difficult to be filming in this kind of COVID world right now because things are still, so I guess we’ll see.
DS: You executively produced Chemical Hearts, what was it like excecutively producting a film?
LR: It was amazing. I really enjoyed excecutive producing. I think I like to be in control of things, and maybe it’s the Virgo in me! I definitely like to have a say on things, and my opninon was being heard on mre than just the acting. I helped a lot in casting, in dialogue, making sure that everything felt grounded. Richard [Tanne], Austin [Abrams] and I, we’re all staying in the same hotel when we were filming the movie. We were spending a lot of time together off-set, going through the script, combing through the pages, rehearsing scenes on the weekend, it was an ongoing process, but I loved every second of it. I’m grateful that Amazon gave me the opportunity to executive produce and put their faith in me having never done it before, they were incredibly supportive, and they were taking me seriously. I’m young, and I’m doing it for the first time, but they completely were on board with me and valued what I brought to the table, so it was a great experience.
DS: Is it something you’d probably do again in the future do you think?
LR: Many times, I’m already producing my own content for the future.
DS: What was it like stepping into a role as complex as Grace? Because she dealt with a lot of issues, how did you prepare yourself for this?
LR: I really isolated myself a bit, it’s interesting that I really had one of the best times of my life filming this movie and yet I was playing someone who was grieving and depressed! I very much was trying to lean into that, I wasn’t exercising when I was filming this movie, I was eating like shit, I was away from my family, and I didn’t let anyone come visit me on set. I wanted to isolate myself and feel alone. I’m not a method actor by any means, but I really wanted to put myself into a mindset that made it easy to feel the real feelings of grief. I allowed myself to be sad. It’s very contradictory because I’m saying I had the best time ever filming it, but then I also let myslef get depressed! But I guess it goes to show how amazing of a time I had when I was shooting it.
DS: Did you feel like any scene or part within the film that you could really relate to her in this one scene?
LR: She’s going through the loss of the love of her life, and so I can’t entirely relate, I’ve gone through heartbreak and grief of the end of the relationship, and it’s not the same as someone dying, but grieving the loss of a relationship is still the same. I’ve definitely been through that, so my own experience with that was quite helpful. I think experiencing the loss of someone you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, that’s a very real thing. A lot of people experience that level of heartache, and I’d like to think that this movie, although it has young people in it, could really have taken place at any age at any scenario. The story is universal in its own way, where you hold onto someone because you have an idea of who they could be and who you want them to be for your own selfish benefits, rather than for who they actually are.
DS: A lot of teenage films are rom-com based and lighthearted, how importantdo you feel it is to have films made more about teenage mental health and dealing with situations like this?
LR: I don’t like romcoms necessarily, I don’t go out of my way to watch romcoms, and I certainly don’t go out of my way to watch teen romcoms. I just find them very hard to relate to, and I rool my eyes at the cheesiness of them just because I’m not a rom-com person. I wanted to do something that felt more real, something that didn’t have a happy ending, something that wasn’t so highschool. I’m genuinely just more attracted to darker and deeper stories and movies with a point of view movies that have something to say that’s not so obvious about love. The message in this film when it comes to love is something that we don’t see often in young love stories; it’s unrequited love.
DS: And you’ve been very outspoken in the past about mental health, and you’re set to release your poem collective in September called Swimming Lessons, what inspired you to write these poems and what’s your creative process when you are writing them?
LR: I don’t really ever go out of my way to sit down and write. It’s more so just when I feel inspired by something. If I feel an emotion and something comes to me, I come up with a sentence and turn to the notes on my phone and start writing. Sometimes it flows really naturally, and sometimes I’ll write only one or two lines and come back to it later. I’ve learned to inherently write better over the last two years while my book is in the publishing process because I’ve been exposed to so many poets. I’ve been writing so much in the past year, so I think in the future I hope to publish another book if Swimming Lessons does well, and people like it.
DS: You’ve had this quick rise to fame, did you feel pressure to be a certain way to act a certain way, how did you adjust to it?
LR: Yeah, when I first went into it, I think I was probably a little naive because I wasn’t aware of how much scrutiny I’d be under or how easy it would be for people to twist my words or dig into every single thing I say. I didn’t start off really thinking too much of it, pretty soon I realised that I really need to be more careful of what I say because people are so quick to assume the wrong things. People want to attack you, so I had to learn from my own mistakes on how to handle being in the spotlight because I certainly don’t do it perfectly — no one navigates fame perfectly! There’s no ifs or buts about ir, and it really sucks to be under scrutiny and have people pick apart your words and to feel like if you make a mistake, it can be irredeemable. That’s a scary thing, and especially with cancel culture being so relevant right now. It’s weird beacause on the one hand you have a lot of people willing to accept you, for example, the LGBTQ+ community welcomed me with open arms when I came out, but then you have a lot of people who are there the secondyou make a mistake, willing to crucify you for it. They don’t want an apology, they want you to grovel, they want you to suffer for your mistakes. It’s very interesting; it’s like half the internet is very kind and supportive then half the internet wants to see you burn.
DS: It does sound incredibly daunting like you said you recently came out, when you finally came out, and you made that pose, how did you feel afterwards?
LR: I didn’t want it to be a big deal; I just wanted to show my support for the community. I was just posting an Instagram story about how I was going to protest in support of Black Lives Matter, and I was just like, you know what, I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m bisexual I don’t have a problem saying it. I’m not trying to make the situation about me; I’m showing my support for my community. I juste felt like an organic way to do it, and I didn’t want to it a big deal. There wasn’t really too much thought process that went behind it.
DS: Like you said before, Riverdale was cut on a cliffhanger unexpectedly and now are we going to jump back to where it was or are we going to jump straight into season 5 or do we not know yet?
LR: No, we have to finish season 4, we have to complete an episode actually! We were in the middle of filming, so we have to finish the episode 6 mnoths later, which is absolutely insane. We have a couple more episodes to finish of that season technically, and then we will basically jump seven years into the future — they’re turning into young adults!
DS: What do you enjoy the most about filming Riverdale because you’ve been on the cast for four years now?
LR: Yeah, it’s been a long time, it’s interesting to see how we’ve all grown and how we’ve all gone on our own different paths, but how we always still come back together and film the show after hiatuses. I love Betty. I really love the character that I play, she’s charming and dear to my heart, and it’s really fun when we can all film togeter, it feels like a party. I’m very grateful to have a job to go back to because I know a lot of people don’t after COVID, so I’m incredibly grateful for that.
DS: Honestly, it’s amazing. I just can’t wait to see what’s next for the series and where it’s going to go. Minus Riverdale, you’ve got your poetry book coming out, what else do you have planned for the rest of the year and next?
LR: Well not much because I am going back to work so, to be honest not much! Hopefully hoing to be working as a producer on things and because I really loved producing so much, I want to be a producer on projects that I’m not involved in acting-wise because it’s something that I could do while I’m filming Riverdale. I’m definitely going to be enjoying having a schedule and not sitting around waiting to act. I miss acting; I really do, I miss performing. I miss my job! So I think it’s going to be really lovely to get back into an environment where I’m doing what I love.