“Riverdale’s” fourth season premieres Wednesday night on CW, and the episode is promised to be an emotional tribute to the late Luke Perry. Perry who plays Archie Andrews’ father, Fred, died after a stroke at 52.
Perry died earlier this year, when the show’s third season was still in production. For the remainder of the season, Fred was on a business trip, and Molly Ringwald reprised her role as Archie’s mother for the rest of the season. “In Memoriam” could have aired at the end of the third season, but showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told the New York Post he didn’t want to rush the episode.
“We wanted to be very respectful and honor both Luke and [his character] Fred Andrews,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “That suggested we should take a more grounded, character-based episode that allowed us to track the emotions.
The cast and crew were joined this episode by Shannen Doherty, Perry’s former co-star on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Doherty said filming the episode was “extremely hard.”
Although her character’s role in the story has not been revealed, Doherty said it was “cathartic in a lot of ways. Very, very hard and emotional.”
Perry’s other cast members had similar experiences with the episode. Ringwald, who plays Archie’s mom and Fred’s ex-wife, said filming the episode was like touching a raw nerve. “I pretty much cried from beginning to end,” she says. “It was like saying goodbye to [Perry] and dealing with the sadness of that,” she told the New York Post.
Skeet Ulrich, who plays Jughead’s dad and Fred’s friend FP Jones, tole it was “literally almost impossible to utter lines.”
“The emotion you try to bury from the four months prior to [Perry’s death] happening until we’re asked to re-examine it in the episode … it’s one of the hardest experiences I’d had [to do] on film,” he told the New York Post.