By Samantha Simon
Oct 24, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
Photo Illustration. Photo: Getty Images

Riverdale fans know Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, the classic girl next door who, thanks to top-notch sleuthing skills, can hunt down a criminal faster than the local police. Throughout the show’s first two seasons, Betty worked overtime to give us some much-appreciated and over-the-top drama. We saw her fall in love with Jughead Jones, the resident bad boy from the wrong side of town. We witnessed her take down the mysterious Black Hood serial killer (a revelation that ultimately hit way too close to home for the high-schooler). And, of course, we watched her hatch an unforgettable revenge scheme, during which she revealed her sinister alter-ego, Dark Betty.

Now, with season three underway, Betty has reached yet another dramatic milestone. She’s been named queen of the Southside Serpents, the long-running gang now headed up by her boyfriend Jughead (played by Reinhart’s rumored real-life boyfriend, Cole Sprouse). While leading a dangerous gang of thugs may seem like the perfect opportunity for Betty to let out more of her inner badass, don’t expect her to hit the hot tub and break out her black wig again any time soon.

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“I think we’ve put the idea of Dark Betty to bed — or at least, we are trying to,” Reinhart tells InStyle. “At the end of the second season, we saw Betty confront her dad, and that was symbolic of her confronting the darkness that was within her. So although this girl still has demons and darkness inside, she’s not afraid of it. She doesn’t need to mask it behind a wig or an outfit — that part is over. She’s a complex human being with goodness and badness.”

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With each new episode, we’ll see Betty attempt to work her way through a fresh set of difficult circumstances. “Betty has a lot on her plate this season,” says Reinhart. “She’s investigating the Gargoyle King with Jughead, she’s trying to figure out what’s behind The Farm that has changed her mom so drastically, and then you also see her battling her mom and [her sister] Polly directly in the middle of the season. You see her struggle deeply but you also see her as the incredible hero that she is. Betty saves herself from the situations that she’s put in — she never relies on anyone to rescue her. That’s what I love so much about her.” 

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Portraying such a layered character is natural for Reinhart, who also stars in the thriller Galveston, now playing in theaters and available to watch on demand. “I like darker things,” she says. “I enjoy watching thrillers and horror movies and dramas. I don't immediately gravitate towards comedies or lighter, happy romance movies — that's just not what really entertains me. I find that you can completely immerse yourself in a thriller movie a lot; I can immerse myself in a movie like that, just for whatever reason. So I really like to be a part of that kind of stuff.”

A dark plot was part of what drew Reinhart to Galveston, which follows a hitman (Ben Foster) and a former captive (Elle Fanning) who are on the run together. “It definitely was quite different from Riverdale,” says Reinhart. “It has a rawness to it and grit that you don't really get to see in Riverdale, because Riverdale is kind of like this place where, although shitty things are happening, everything's still kind of perfect. Everyone still looks beautiful, not a hair is out of place. And I think with Galveston, you could show that vulnerable, not-so-picture-perfect side of yourself on film, which I appreciate.” 

Reinhart only makes a brief appearance in Galveston, starring in a flash-forward that's part of the film's ending. “I play a very small part, but it is a powerful part,” she says. “It is a powerful scene that I’m in at the end of the film, and because it’s not out yet, I feel like a lot of people don’t necessarily know how I'm involved in it. But it almost feels like I have a tiny little cameo at the end of it — that’s kind of how I think of it.”

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Her screen time in Galveston is certainly stark in contrast to that of Riverdale — but filming opposite only one other actor wasn’t as unusual for Reinhart as you might think. “With Betty, this season in particular, I actually have done a lot of stuff by myself — a lot of one-on-one scenes,” she says. “So that part of it wasn’t actually that different — but the whole production of it was.”

For starters, Reinhart wasn’t around when filming began. “I went in on the last day of production to shoot my scene,” she says. “People were tired and had been working really hard, long days for the past month or however long they were shooting, but I was excited.” Right off the bat, the overall vibe of the project was different for Reinhart. “On TV, I play Betty — one of the leading roles — and I know everybody when I walk into work every day,” she says. “It's more of a routine, whereas walking into this, it was very unfamiliar territory. So it was different in that sense, because you’re going into a completely new environment with people you don't know.”

It was a far cry from her return to the Riverdale set this summer. “We’ve been back at it for awhile — we started shooting our premiere in July — but the minute you come back, it feels like you never left,” says Reinhart. “It's just kind of jumping into familiar territory and doing it all over again; it's comforting.”

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While the Riverdale cast is constantly sharing behind-the-scenes snaps of their bonding moments, Reinhart is reluctant to confirm that life on set is always as cozy and care-free as we imagine. “I mean, it definitely does feel like work,” she says. “On a day-to-day basis, I still feel like I'm going to work — but in the best way. When we all have scenes together, and we're doing something playful or fun, I feel very lucky to be a part of that and be able to film with all my friends. I have the best job; there's no complaints there. It's hard work and long days, so it's not all happiness all the time — but we all do love each other very much and get along very well.”

And there you have it: Dark Betty really is gone.