Everything about Riverdale makes absolutely no sense, but that’s part of what makes it so good. It’s a Twin Peaks-inspired revival of a wholesome, 1940s comic book. Seemingly 80 percent of the residents of this small town, where leagues of people are mysteriously killed, inexplicably have red hair. Beyond a former Disney Channel star, the lead roles consist of relatively unknown actors — some of which have never landed a recurring role before the CW series — and yet, it has record ratings that soared with teens, up “467 percent” from the first to second season, according to Vulture. Um, wow.
Riverdale’s success has transformed the majority of the cast into celebrities overnight, and while most of us are pretty focused on who in the Riverdale cast is dating who, and their various adorable friendships, it’s hard not to wonder about the money. These Riverdale stars may not be the richest actors on television — it isn’t The Big Bang Theory, after all – but they’re certainly on their way.
It's safe to say Cole Sprouse doesn't have any student loans
It seems like Cole Sprouse would be a bit too young to sit on the Central Perk couch with the cast of Friends, but then you’ve got to remember that the Disney Star has been working nearly his entire life. Not only was he cast as Ross’ son on the NBC series, but he landed his gig on the sitcom Grace Under Fire in 1993. He was born in 1992. Is your jaw dropping yet?
By the time Sprouse and his twin brother Dylan signed on for The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, the future Riverdale star was already a seasoned professional. It’s not surprising that he became one of Disney’s highest paid stars, outearning even Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. According to the New York Post, Sprouse and his brother raked in $20,000 per episode.
Sprouse has reportedly doubled his salary since his Disney days. According to Variety, he pulls in $40,000 per episode as Jughead Jones. Though his fame has brought him a monumental $8 million (presumably half of the reported $16 million dollar fortune he shares with his brother) — making him the richest member of the cast — he somehow manages to stay grounded. Before Riverdale, Sprouse studied GIS (Geographical Information Systems and Satellite Imaging) at New York University and was working at a lab in Brooklyn, according to an interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan (via Teen Vogue).
Riverdale made KJ Apa a star — and rich
Kiwi actor KJ Apa was bracing for his breakthrough role when he landed the lead of Riverdale’s Archie Andrews. Other than helping bolster Kleenex sales with A Dog’s Purpose and cutting his TV mystery teeth in the New Zealand drama The Cul De Sac, the star had minimal credits prior to the CW series. That changed very quickly after Riverdale’s premiere. Today, the actor lives the kind of luxe life where he’s allegedly invited to house parties at Paris Hilton’s house, then actually hit on by the heiress (if Us Weekly is to be believed). Must be nice.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Apa has racked up a $3 million net worth, which probably has a lot to do with his work on Riverdale. Variety reported that, like his co-star Cole Sprouse, Apa makes $40,000 per episode. And he works really, really hard for that money. In fact, he works so hard that it might border on dangerous. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Apa totalled his car in the early hours of the morning when he fell asleep behind the wheel during a 45-minute drive home after a 16-hour day of filming. Though he walked away without any serious injuries, the accident was severe enough to prompt a SAG-AFTRA workplace investigation.
Lili Reinhart appreciates a healthy side hustle
Lili Reinhart might have laughed off the assertion that she’s making $300,000 per episode, but she’s still making significant cash with her role on Riverdale. According to Variety, the actress makes $40,000 per episode like her co-stars, which works out to be around $880,000 per season, and she’s spending all of it very sensibly.
In October 2019, Reinhart spoke with The Daily Front Row, in what was clearly a joint promotional effort for her ambassadorship with American Express. While touting the new, environmentally-friendly card, Reinhart claimed she hoards her credit card points, and that her first credit card purchase was “probably something really stupid, like McDonalds.” She also admitted to the occasionally splurge, at least when her on-and-off boyfriend Sprouse eggs her on.
“I also bought myself a Dior bracelet for my birthday, which was probably the most expensive piece of clothing or jewelry I’ve ever bought for myself,” she told the outlet, adding, “I was with Cole — my boyfriend — and he convinced me to do it. He was like, ‘It’s your birthday. You’ve worked hard.’ So I bought it for myself, and I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t do that kind of thing a lot. I’m very stingy. I save my money.” All that saving — and, you know, a cushy side gig as an ambassador for a massive credit card company — sounds like it’s really paid off.
Riverdale gave Camila Mendes her first big professional paycheck
Camila Mendes had almost no professional experience when she landed the role of Veronica Lodge on Riverdale. According to W Magazine, prior to fame, the actress was a typical college student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated in 2016, a month after she started what she called “the most harrowing audition process” for Riverdale. Mendes was apparently not yet well-versed in the art of enduring major stresses, you know, like growing up in a murdery town where everyone seems like they’re out to get you (which could be an allegory for Hollywood if you really think about it hard enough).
“They were like, ‘You’re our top choice, but we want to open up a new search, and we want someone that can compete with you,'” she told W Magazine of her audition. “I lost sleep, I was crying every night because it felt like I was so close to something that could be big, and like my life and career changing, but in the end it all worked out.”
Worked out is an understatement. The star went from doing little more than an Ikea commercial to raking in $40,000 per episode (or $880,000 per season) according to Variety. For a very first credited gig, that ain’t half bad. Celebrity Net Worth clocks the stars total worth at an estimated $3 million.
Madelaine Petsch's sensible Swedish furniture sure doesn't show off her fortune
Cheryl Blossom might come from a maple syrup fortune, but Madelaine Petsch isn’t living in a 1940s comic book. When the star joined up with Riverdale in Season 2, she barely had any acting credits. Baby girl worked her way from absolutely nothing to a spot on one of the CW’s most gripping mystery dramas.
It’s safe to say that today Pesche can put down the Aunt Jemima and splurge on some artisanal stuff. While it’s unclear if she makes the same amount of cash as her fellow Riverdale High classmates, Celebrity Net Worth estimates that the star has racked up an enormous $4 million net worth. Despite this, it doesn’t really look like she’s spending her fortune on anything massive. In a 2017 interview with Marie Claire, Petsch admitted that she recently had a roommate (co-star Lili Reinhart) and they didn’t go out very much.
“We lived together last year, but then I got a boyfriend so we have our own places now. But a typical Friday night for Lili and I was staying at home watching The Nightmare Before Christmas or Shrek, and eating food. We generally just watch weird movies, eat food, and that’s about it.”
Since then, Petsch has moved into an apartment of her own in Vancouver, where she lives while filming. The star even chose the relatively thrifty option of Ikea furniture, which she assembled herself. Perhaps Camila Mendes even got her a discount.
Ashleigh Murray probably isn't calling her mom for money these days
Ashleigh Murray was flat-out broke before landing a role on Riverdale. The star was just a newcomer with only a few tiny credits to her name when she took on the massive, storied character Josie McCoy, lead singer of Josie and the Pussycats. That means she landed the same role that Tara Reid supposedly snatched from Beyonce, who allegedly auditioned for the early aughts version of the film.
In an interview with Collider, Murray admitted that before her Riverdale audition, she was “$4,700 behind in rent,” and had to wash her clothes in the bathroom sink because she didn’t have enough money to do laundry. She was planning to take six months off from the industry in order to get back on her feet. “[Riverdale] was my last audition. So, I went on the audition, and the next day, I was on my way home from the grocery store with $12 in my bank account,” she told the outlet. “I had to call my mom and ask her for an extra $5 because the last of it went to food at Whole Foods, just so that I could get home.”
As of this writing, it’s not clear how much Murray makes from her role on Riverdale, but it’s probably a pretty penny if her costars are raking in $40,000 per episode.
Casey Cott went from college student to first class flyer
We don’t even want to think about Casey Cott’s potential student loans. His alma mater costs so much that even his Riverdale paycheck might not have covered it all in the first year. Life & Style reported that the star was only worth $100,000 in 2017 when Riverdale first premiered, and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cott attended Boston University before transferring to study acting at Carnegie Mellon, which costs almost $75,000 per year for those living on campus.
Nonetheless, Cott’s expensive education did pay off. According to Out, the star was discovered by Warner Bros. in a Los Angeles talent showcase shortly after graduation. Though he originally auditioned for Archie, he was cast as Kevin Keller that same day. “I am either the luckiest actor in the world, or maybe they really just had no other actor to cast,” he joked.
It’s unclear how much Cott makes from his role, but it’s clear he didn’t have a glamorous lifestyle growing up. The star told Out that his first time ever flying in first class was the when he flew to the Riverdale table read in Vancouver, but we’re guessing it won’t be his last.
The late Luke Perry left a hefty bank balance behind
According to TMZ, Luke Perry tragically passed away in March 2019 at the age of 52 after being hospitalized for a stroke. Though the star’s death gutted the Riverdale cast, where he served as a mentor and father figure figure to his younger co-stars, the actor’s legacy not only withstands, but proved to be quite lucrative.
Perry managed to amass an estimated $10 million net worth through his sprawling, decades-long career. Though he’s had roles in a number of cult classics like The Fifth Element and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he’s perhaps best known for this work on Beverly Hills, 90210. It’s also likely responsible for a huge chunk of his overall earnings. Perry’s co-star Jenny Garth admitted in her memoir Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde that the series was really “good money — money on a level that I just didn’t understand when I was a teenager.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the reboot earned the cast a base salary of $420,000 for just six episodes, and though Perry was sadly not part of the production, it does speak to how much he probably made back in the ’90s.
It’s unclear how much Perry made specifically from Riverdale, but one thing is clear: the actor was absolutely beloved. According to Us Weekly, the executive producers teamed up with Perry’s family to plan a tearful farewell episode for the Season 4 premiere.
Vanessa Morgan almost earned nothing from Riverdale
Vanessa Morgan’s run on Riverdale began as a miss. In an interview with Teen Vogue, the star admitted that she originally tried out for the role of Josie, but didn’t land the part. Though she managed to foster a serious friendship with her future castmate Madelaine Petsch, the star booked The Shannara Chronicles and was filming in New Zealand when Riverdale’s casting director circled back around to audition her for Toni Topaz.
“I just sent a tape from New Zealand, but it’s because I built that relationship for Josie, and the creator told me, ‘Don’t worry. We’re gonna find a place for you on this show,’ and the fact that he actually followed through on his words and put me in it… This character’s way more me than Josie,” she told Teen Vogue.
Since Morgan is a newcomer on set, it’s likely that she doesn’t make as much as her Riverdale co-stars, but regardless, she’s about to be living in a dual income household with another high-earner. In a July 2019 Instagram post, the actress revealed that she got engaged to professional baseball player Michael Kopech, who’s worth an estimated $800,000.
Charles Melton is only just starting to build his Hollywood fortune
Besides a cameo on American Horror Story and Glee, Charles Melton had virtually no TV credits before landing the recurring role of Reggie Mantle on Riverdale. The actor was so far removed from Hollywood that he had no idea just what fame would actually be like. All he knew was that his dad was a fan of the Archie comics. “I really didn’t know what I was walking into,” Melton told WWD in a 2018 interview. “I mean, if you want to look at numbers, my social media following is up. You know, it went from 17,800 to, like, 2.7 million, which is kind of crazy.”
Since debuting his recurring role 2017, Melton has been “posed to lead the way for Asian American representation in Hollywood,” according to Paper. A study by the USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalist (via the New York Times) found that Asian Americans were cast in just one percent of Hollywood’s leading roles despite making up roughly six percent of the population. As much as the role is a breath of fresh air, it also stands to be a cash cow for the star. Melton is worth an estimated $200,000, which seems low in the realm of TV stars before you acknowledge the fact that Riverdale is the actor’s first large role. It’s only up from here.
Skeet Ulrich is loaded, but his career isn't about that
Skeet Ulrich’s estimated $5 million net worth almost seems meaningless when you consider the fact that the star endured a health scare even more terrifying than anything that happened in Scream. In 2010, Los Angeles Magazine reported that the Riverdale star had “constant bouts of pneumonia” when he was a kid. At the ripe age of 10, doctors discovered Ulrich had a congenital heart defect. Specifically, he had “a cleft mitral valve and a hole in his ventricular wall,” which required open-heart surgery. The surgery left the actor with a huge scar and a different outlook on life.
“I had a 25 percent chance of living,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2006. “I’ve had this ‘F— odds’ attitude for a long time.”
The star did indeed “f—” the odds. According to Entertainment Weekly, Ulrich landed six film roles right after graduating from New York University, including his breakout role as one of the two antagonists in the original Scream and a plush spot in the cult classic The Craft. Today, Ulrich has gone back to his roots as FP Jones in Riverdale – and the series even makes a reference to his slasher film.
Mädchen Amick built her bank balance the hard way
Riverdale’s prime demographic is probably a little bit too young to have watched David Lynch’s mystery drama Twin Peaks when it first aired on TV, but as Vulture points out, the CW series is loaded with imagery lifted from the cult classic. One of these things is Mädchen Amick, who played Shelly Johnson, a waitress at the infamous Double R Diner.
Amick amassed an estimated $3 million net worth throughout her career, but the star always chose longevity before fame. In an interview with Vice, the actress opened up about how she was never a fan of celebrity, and how her incredible work ethic helped cement a career that’s withstood three decades. Proof? She began working on an indie film just four weeks after giving birth to her son in 1992.
“Every molecule of my body wanted to be home with my son,” she told Vice. “Actresses don’t get maternity leave… I’ve never had the luxury that a lot of actresses do that they’re born into the business, or have wealth, and can pick and choose what they want to work.” So there you have it: Amick might not consider herself wealthy, but she’s certainly doing the darn thing anyway.
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