Riverdale has caused quite the buzz since it debuted earlier this year on The CW in the US and Netflix in the UK.
The teen drama centred around a murder mystery and it’s had fans speculating constantly on social media. One of the breakout stars of the show has been Rob Raco who played the supporting character Joaquin, a mysterious member of the Serpents who embarked on a relationship with Kevin (Casey Cott), one of the members of the main cast.
Already renewed for a second season, Riverdale promises to keep delivering big twists and plenty of mystery when it returns in October.
I caught up with Rob about the success of Riverdale, discuss the impact his character has had and to find out what other projects he has coming up this year.
The first season of Riverdale has recently finished. What was your experience of working on the show?
Although Joaquin is is seen very sporadically, the work of it was quite a bit. There were long days. The easiest way to answer that would be to say that it was great. I had a job for six months with an incredible cast and crew, we became a giant family. I mean this in the the best way, I was on the outside of it. You have the series regulars and this crew, and here I am on the outside being accepted by this family, going to work and doing these scenes although very tiny, they are very important. It was great to have a family. I really hope it extends. I know it will regardless of the season 2 extension. These people have been very important in my life. To sum that up it’s been great and it’s been an amazing first commercial opportunity for me.
How much did you know about Joaquin when you went in to read for the character?
Very little. I knew I was in a bike gang. We were playing around with the age because Joaquin’s age isn’t identified. I knew he was a biker gang member who wanted to date Kevin, that’s all I knew. As the series went on, and wrote more about him, we had more liberty to take with him since he’s not a comic character which was incredibly fun I think for everyone; the writers and me as a performer. We didn’t know much and we just kind of went with it. I think we got a pretty good character.
The fans of the show have really taken to Kevin and Joaquin’s relationship. Were you quite surprised by the reaction that you’ve had?
Absolutely! I remember after episode four I was getting on a plane to go to Los Angeles from Vancouver. On the plane my team had reached out to me and said ‘have you checked your social media stuff?’ and it blossomed. It’s just been humongous and this steady climb. I had a total of maybe 20 to 30 minutes of screen time in the whole first season. People have really found this magnetic identifiable thing between Kevin and Joaquin. I think it’s just that they’re bad ass. I think they just go for it. Although there’s been some criminal action from Joaquin’s side, I think the love part of it was the strongest element. I think people identified with that. I was very surprised (laughs) but it’s been quite neat and I hope it continues.
What was it like working with Skeet Ulrich? You had some great scenes with him over the first season.
Ah Skeet! What an honour. I grew up watching Skeet, I think I was about five years old when Scream came out. Getting to work with someone who’s more I would say film based of an actor than TV, he knows how to nail his beats. He also just has such a great prep and energy going into something. We had talked a little bit about technique and we’d both studied in New York so we hit this common ground. It was an honour to do it because in our scenes he taught me so much by doing nothing, if that makes sense? He’s a very magnetic man. Skeet was one of my favourite things in the show and I’m so happy I got to work with him. I really love our scenes.
One of the things that I really like about Riverdale is that its the teen stars from the 80s and 90s like Luke Perry and Molly Ringwald, handing the mantle over to a new generation. Is there any pressure when you’re working alongside people like that?
You know absolutely not. You’re right it has a whole element of the old teen drama stars of the 90s and late 80s and these people are so incredibly supportive and kind. Luke Perry is a dad on set. He watches over everyone and he’ll come out of his trailer to say hello. I think it’s the complete opposite of pressure. I would put the pressure on myself to do well in their footsteps. They obviously created such an important thing in their generation and here we are trying to do this. We have this whole monster of social media that can be for better or for worse. They’re just humble. They go to work and they kill it. It’s something that is so inspirational. I absolutely loved it. I thought that was such a cool opportunity to work in a television show.
The final two episodes revealed who really killed Jason Blossom. Did you have any idea that you had any part in it at all or did you only find out when you got the scripts?
I knew from Episode 8 when when FP, Skeet’s character, handed me the jacket that we had some sort of involvement in this case. We didn’t know what our involvement was and even then why is FP trusting me, a Serpent without even having his own patches who is not even initiated. Why is he trusting me with this jacket? We created some theories of our own. We got to episodes 10 and 11 and figured out that Joaquin’s got a secret going on here. By Episode 12 no one knew what was happening. When I went into a fitting for it, the girls were like ‘we hear you leave town’ and I’m like ‘oh this is interesting. I wonder why?’ Then we got the script and I’m like ‘oh this is why!’ so it was one of those giant reveals. I preconceived some thoughts of what could have happened but I didn’t think what had happened, happened. It was well written and I really enjoyed what they did with Joaquin. It was quite the shock I think for everyone.
I consider myself an amateur sleuth when it comes to mysteries in shows and I had no idea who it was. I was pretty shocked…
Oh I love that! I’m sure the writers will really, really appreciate that. I knew it was hard. When you rewatch them after filming and see them fully cut, it really does leave a mystery. I’ve had so many people tag me for Episode 10 and 11 being the killer. Then they thought it was FP but they started saying ‘how could it be?’ It’s so funny! They they thought it was Marisol’s character Hermione because she’s protecting Hiram. I love the little ladder they make of every character and then boom right at the end we figure out it’s his dad. I think everyone was pretty damn shocked.
Riverdale is coming back for Season 2 later this year. Joaquin was last seen leaving town. Do you know at this point if you’re coming back?
I do not know anything about Season 2 except it’s a 22 episode pick up so that leaves a huge arc for them to write and build. If Joaquin does come back I wouldn’t think that it would be in the first half of that season. I think they still have to build so much about what actually happened. Fred Andrews has been shot. I think there’s a lot that the main cast has to deal with before Joaquin comes back and he could potentially be involved in a trial. We’ll see! The whole Joaquin and Kevin thing is quite an interesting story and it would be great to hear a little bit more about Joaquin’s history. I know there’s been crazy rumours going down on the Internet right now about his backstory so we’ll see what gets explored. If not then then it’s been a great journey!
It looks like you’ve got quite a lot of projects coming up at the moment. What can you tell me about those?
I did a short film called Wasted Bliss that is about a terminally ill man who decides to just live to the fullest his last days. It just made Cannes Festival so the production company is going to go represent me for that, which is very exciting. I have a couple of feature films coming out. I have one that’s called Hammer of the Gods that I shot in Canada about a year ago. I’m really excited about that, it’s me showing my musical ability. It’s got this huge thriller aspect about people going on this journey to pretty much find themselves and find the spark of their creativity and run into some roadblocks. Other than that I got some stuff that’s being worked on that’s in development. We keep taking one day at a time. It’s a crazy industry and we ride this wave and push the next thing forward. I’m quite excited to keep working.
You mentioned your musical abilities. I hear that you’re a very good drummer. Tell me a bit more about that.
Well I like to say ‘was’ but I am a professional drummer. I played for well over 15 years with various acts touring and all that. When switching arts you kind of have to put your best foot forward, although acting has given me the ability to find other musicians like KJ (Apa), Ashleigh (Murray) of Hayley (Law) – these people that are pros you know. If you ever get the chance to take time off set, then you can take all that pressure from your a 12 hour day on set out into your musical instrument. I’ve done a little bit of producing and writing. I am terrified of singing but I do it every now and then, especially for new auditions and new musical projects. I’m trying to incorporate the two. I think a big influence on me between film and music would be something like Inside Llewyn Davis where where Oscar Isaac go to show off the ability of both. I’m trying to find projects do that. It’s a dream role. I can dabble with everything but drums has definitely been my main little baby.
It’s a shame we never got to see Joaquin performing during the first season of Riverdale…
Who knows maybe Joaquin will come back as a drummer in Archie’s band or something. If he’s accepted for revealing what happened with Jason, maybe he’ll get a second chance and he can show off his chops (laughs). That would be fun!
Is there anything else that you are hoping to achieve or that you’ll be doing this year?
Just moving on to becoming more sustainable in this industry. Then being able to take time off to go to my sister’s wedding would be the best because every time I sign onto a new project, they get the release date and I’m like ‘oh she’s getting married this year, I’ve got to be a good brother!’ I’m definitely heavily focused on achieving the next step in this acting career wherever that takes me and then being able to utilise social media to give back, and try to get something sustainable out of it. I’m a little older than the generation that follows me. It’s fun to be able to kind of get something cohesive between us so that way it’s not an online celebrity type person and many thousands of fans – it becomes kind of a family. I’m liking the two things combining, it’s become fun and a little overwhelming. Just more projects hopefully, more musical things, more time for family and becoming a better human (laugh) That’s it.
Riverdale will return to The CW in the US and Netflix in the UK for a second season this October.