It’s amazing just how many famous actors in Hollywood are actually from across the pond. Most bring their experience from the theatre with refreshing new ideas to their roles that we don’t see in North American acting. If the long list of British actors is any indication, Adain Bradley may just become one of the greats. After growing up in York, England, Bradley eventually made his transition to television, and is now playing Trev on CW’s Riverdale. If the name sounds familiar, it’s a new murder-mystery drama set in the Archie Comics universe.
What got you into acting?
Adain Bradley: I think I was eight years old and it was my teacher in my drama class at school who said, “You know Adain, I think you should try this. I think you’d be really good at it.” And 10 years later, here I am.
How did you land your role in Bugsy?
Bradley: I had done a couple of school plays and I said to my parents, “I think this is what I want to do.” Where I’m from in York, they have a big theatre and they were going to be doing a production of Bugsy Malone. I asked if I could try out for it and there were about 400 other kids. My mother said “Yeah sure,” and she actually did it because I’d been getting the leads in the school plays and she wanted to teach me rejection as young as possible. When I went there, there were about 400 kids lined up across the bridge. When we were doing the try outs, I came out and said that they were going to call me. My mum said are you ready to go? And I said no, they want to see me again. About a week later, I got a letter in the mail that said they wanted me to play Leroy. And that was, I suppose my big break really.
That must’ve been huge for you
Bradley: Yeah! It was literally a week before I was supposed to be doing the school play in front of 50 parents and then the week after, it was thousands of people in the auditorium, and I couldn’t believe it.
How was it to do a major theatre production?
Bradley: I’ve been very lucky because I’ve never been one of these people that’s gotten really nervous about anything. I think at the time, at my age, I didn’t understand the scope of it. I think if it would’ve been now, I probably would have been a bit more nervous. At the time, I didn’t really know the difference. My mother was in the front row every day like she was at my school plays, and it just felt the same to me.
How was it like being with the cast and all in a major production?
Bradley: That was the first time I think, that I’ve had a really good experience with a cast. And I’m glad that that was the first time, well, first production because it was nice to know that casts can get along like that, and be almost like family in a short period of time. It was such a quick turnaround. From start to finish it was six or eight weeks or so. We were spending so much time together, and it taught me that you kind of do have a bond with these people and you have to trust these people. It paved the way for me ever since.
Have you ever read the Archie Comics?
Bradley: Yes! My mother is actually American, and I grew up in the UK-my father’s British- and so I had known of it because of her. So I go in and do this audition, and told my mom, “Hey, I’m going out for Riverdale,” and she says “Oh that’s funny,” and I said, “Yeah, I feel like I recognize that name. Something about Archie,” and she goes “Archie?! Archie with Betty and Veronica?!” and I said, “Yeah,” and she said, “Oh my god!” and she made me read all of them. I knew about it beforehand but I’m more ingrained in it now because we didn’t have it growing up. I was quite interested in them beforehand because I am quite into comic books. But yeah, my mom was very excited about it when she heard.
What do you think makes the Archie Comics so entertaining?
Bradley: I think for me -I have a different perspective because I didn’t grow up with the comics- but for me, it’s kind of that classic Americana teen, high school thing that we don’t really have in England, so that’s what makes it interesting for me.
What was it like to finally be on set for Riverdale?
Bradley: It was quite special. Without giving too much away, we shoot in Vancouver and when I got there, there’s a soundstage, and when you look to your left and there’s just Pop’s, and it’s in the middle of a parking lot, and they built the whole thing. I was like, “Is that Pop’s?” with the neon sign and all. I got to walk around, and they showed me around Pop’s and the rest of the soundstage, and that was great. Probably the person I spent the most time with was Lili, who plays Betty, and she’s so nice. Everybody I spoke to was so nice and I think that’s what makes the show work so well.
So Riverdale not one of those cutthroat sets, everyone is helpful?
Bradley: Oh yeah. Everyone is so helpful. When I saw the relationship between Betty and Veronica I didn’t even know how they pulled that off because they’re so nice.
What’s it like watching yourself on TV, I’m assuming you watched the show?
Bradley: The first episode I was on was Feb. 9 and I kind of neglected to watch it because I get nervous watching myself. Eventually, I thought to myself, let me rip off the Band-Aid and you know what? If I don’t say so myself, I thought I looked all right! Quite nice!
You looked adorable
Bradley: Oh, why thank you, I appreciate it. But yeah, I’ve never been comfortable with seeing myself on screen but this time around, I didn’t mind it.
Without giving anything away, do you know everything that’s going to go down? Do you guys have access to the episodes ahead of time?
Bradley: No, I mean, they keep it pretty tight. Obviously, they send the occasional test footage so we can redo lines or they want to add a line but other than test footage, I haven’t seen anything, and they only send you the episodes that you’re in. They send you the scripts that you’re in. I haven’t pried too much because I didn’t want to upset anybody but they haven’t told me anything.
Ah, so they keep everybody tight-lipped
Bradley: Yeah, very much so. I mean, obviously the mystery throughout is who murdered Jason Blossom, and I’m pretty sure nobody on that set knows other than the writers. Talk about emulating real-life, I don’t know what’s going to happen to these characters. To be honest, in a way I kind of prefer it that way, because watching it right now, when something happens, like when somebody tells somebody off, some plot twist at the end, I gasp like everybody else. I quite enjoy it that way.
You said you don’t like watching yourself. I guess theatre’s different because unless someone’s recording it, you don’t see yourself and you just do it.
Bradley: Yeah. Perhaps the best and worst about theatre is that once you’ve done it, it’s gone. Whereas when you’re watching yourself on TV –thankfully I like the parts I was in- everything lives in the internet and it’s never going away.
What’s it like to play a long established character?
Bradley: I have to say that was the one thing I was nervous about because obviously people have an attachment to these characters, but I think you have to go at it like it’s just another role. Obviously, you’ve got to be mindful that people have an attachment, so you can’t make too strong choices. But the writers guide you in the right direction, and you have to go at it like any other character because if you don’t, you’ll trip yourself up and you’ll get too nervous and you’ll never get anything done.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from the set?
Bradley: It would be hard to pick out one because everyone is so nice and it’s a really relaxed set. I think what made me laugh was that I got to meet Shannon Purser, who plays Ethe,l but people know her as Barb from Stranger Things. I had never seen Stranger Things before that point and everyone was referring to her as Barb. So when I got picked up, they were telling me that Barb was on the show tonight and I’m like, “Oh ok.” So when I met her, right before I said hi Barb I’m Adain, nice to meet you, somebody walked up and said Shannon, we’re waiting for you. I was like woah-woah, wait. I turned around and asked somebody, “Wait, what was her name?” They said, “It’s Shannon and she plays Barb on Stranger Things.”
I guess she doesn’t mind being called Barb?
Bradley: No, I’m sure she doesn’t mind. I mean, people stop her in the street and go crazy, so I’m sure she’s fine with it.
What are the biggest differences between doing theatre and a TV show?
Bradley: Two things. Obviously with theatre, you have to project yourself more but I think it’s more of a sense of reality. When you’re on stage, you kind of have to immerse people in a completely different world. When you’re on TV -even though, obviously Riverdale is a world of its own- it’s supposed to be more “realistic” and you’re in peoples’ homes, they’re not in your house, you’re in theirs. I just feel like it’s completely different. I’m not saying people can’t do both but it’s very different disciplines. Coming from the stage, I didn’t realize how much I had to learn about TV acting. It was a huge transition. After I did a few other productions after Bugsy, I told my parents I wanted to go on TV. When I started going to auditions, I was doing what I thought was the right thing, and they told me, “Could you tone it down a bit?” and that’s when I knew I had to get some training and some help. It’s a completely different craft.
How did you like filming in Vancouver? Do you like Canada?
Bradley: I love Canada. I spent a lot of time in Vancouver, even though we were out there shooting, I still managed to go downtown, and I love it there. I say it’s a mix of England and America because it’s got the things I love about America, and also some of the culture and comforts with the people from England. It’s kind of a really nice balance. If I had to pick anywhere, I’d probably pick Canada because it’s the best of both worlds for me. And they have Nando’s in Canada, which I am a huge fan of because they don’t have it here (America) other than Washington. So that was nice as well.
Aside from Trev, who is your favourite Archie character?
Bradley: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to go with Betty just because I’m most familiar with her, and doing a lot of scenes with Lili. That’s probably what I’m most well versed in. But if it had to be anybody else I would be Archie, and especially KJ’s Archie because if I had a six pack like that I’d have no more problems. I don’t know how he does it. He just does pull-ups and sit-ups in-between takes and I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d love to be Archie, but I love Betty.
Do you have anything to say to fans watching Riverdale right now?
Bradley: Honestly, thanks for watching. The outpour beforehand was amazing when they were doing the press tours. Just the outpour of support over the last few weeks has been fantastic and the idea that it’s playing on Netflix all over the world but in particular where I’m from (England) I appreciate it so much. Thank you to everybody that watches.
Fans can follow Adain Bradley on instagram here @adainbradley.