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‘Riverdale’ star Marisol Nichols discovered acting love here

Marisol Nichols (left) and co-star Camila Mendes in "Riverdale."

Reached on the Los Angeles set of her new CW television series “Riverdale” (premiering at 8 p.m. Thursday, WPWR-Channel 50), Marisol Nichols shared memories of when she first caught the acting bug.

“Of course, my parents always told me, ‘You’re too dramatic,’ all the years I was growing up, so they weren’t so surprised,” laughed the actress, who grew up in Naperville and spent most of her high school years at Naperville North.

“I was at the [College of DuPage] and frankly didn’t know what I wanted to study. So, on a lark, I just tried out for a play, thinking maybe I’d get a walk-on role. It was Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From the Bridge,’ and I ended up being cast as [the female lead] Catherine. I immediately realized how perfect it was and figured out this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

The former “24” co-star returns to Chicago from time to time but lost one incentive when her favorite Greek restaurant, Parthenon, closed last summer. “There are other wonderful Greek restaurants in Chicago, but I’ll always remember the Parthenon fondly,” she said. “There was something just special about the place.”

As for “Riverdale,” Nichols admitted she was skeptical when first told about the project, a drama about about the teenagers in the venerable Archie comic books.

“I told people, ‘Do you mean Archie and Veronica from when I was a kid?’ I thought it wasn’t for me, because I’m not really a comic book kind of girl. I’m more into darker, dramatic kinds of roles.

“But then I read the script and realized this was completely darker and much different from what I initially thought. We’re using the same characters from the comic books, but in a very different way.”

Nichols’ Hermione is the mother of Veronica (Camila Mendes), who vies with rival Betty for Archie’s affections.

“They’re coming to Riverdale on the sly,” she said. “They’ve  been booted out of New York. Veronica’s father, my husband, Hiram Lodge, is in prison for embezzlement. We come from the world of New York high society. All the Manhattan tabloids have run all the stories about them, and it’s been quite humiliating for them — especially for Hermione. The Lodges have lost a lot of their money, but because Hermione still has a home in Riverdale, she hoped they would come back and be welcomed back into the community. But that isn’t exactly how things work out.”

Neither Chicago nor the Midwest provided Nichols with any inspiration for what she calls her “uppity” Hermione. “No, people in the Midwest and in Chicago are too down-to-earth! … I based her somewhat on the character Cate Blanchett plays in ‘Carol’ with Rooney Mara. … Part of that was because the show’s creator told me he had based Hermione on her, but also because I liked how Cate’s Carol starts out so uppity and reserved and proper, but then unravels as things go along. The same thing happens for Hermione!”