Riverdale's Showrunner Talks About Bringing In Shannen Doherty For Their Luke Perry Tribute Episode

Shannen Doherty guest stars in the Luke Perry tribute episode of Riverdale. (Photo: Robert Falconer, The CW)

Riverdale returns this week with a departure from the norm. The season four premiere centres around the death of Fred Andrews, played by the late Luke Perry. It’s an episode that showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is calling a “meditation” on Perry’s life, and one that fulfils a goal Perry had for the show: Reuniting with co-star Shannen Doherty.

In an interview with the New York Post, Aguirre-Sacasa shared more details about the upcoming season premiere, “In Memoriam.” Perry died earlier this year after having a stroke and Aguirre-Sacasa chose to wait until season four to address it on the series. For the remainder of season three, Fred Andrews was away on business and Molly Ringwald’s character stepped in as Archie’s parental figure. But that was only a temporary fix.

“We weren’t going to say Fred was on a business trip indefinitely, or never mention him again,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “He’s such a huge part of the show, and of Archie’s story. We knew we’d have to meet this challenge head-on.”

Some of the cast said it was difficult to film the episode, with co-star Skeet Ulrich (FP Jones) saying it was sometimes “literally almost impossible to utter lines.” But they weren’t alone. It was confirmed at New York Comic Con that Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Doherty appears in the episode in an undisclosed role — something that Perry had been trying to arrange for a long time.

Aguirre-Sacasa added that he considers the episode to be a tribute not only to the character of Fred Andrews, but also to Perry himself and the work he did on Riverdale, 90210, and so many other shows and films.

“Luke had been trying to get her on Riverdale for years, and the timing never worked out,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “We sent her the script and she said, ‘I’d love to be a part of this.’ [The episode is] a meditation on what Fred meant to the town of Riverdale and what Luke meant to the cast and crew — and the audience that grew up watching 90210 and the audience that watches Riverdale.”

Riverdale returns with “In Memoriam” this week. The series airs on Netflix in Australia.

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