Chic Cooper’s arrival in the Riverdale community has been pretty polarizing, to put it lightly. On one hand, it’s lovely how Alice gets to reconnect with the son she never thought she’d see again. On the other, to paraphrase Thom Yorke, he’s a bit of a creep and a weirdo, what the hell is he doing there, he doesn’t belong there! As Riverdale season two progresses, so do Chic’s questionable intentions, as evidenced by the revelation in this week’s episode that he might not be a true Cooper after all. So, what does this mean for Chic’s endgame and his beautiful cheekbones going forward? Ahead of Wednesday’s episode, Vulture called actor Hart Denton to discuss the surprising comedic undertones of his character, what makes Chic so creepy, and how he deals with all of those crying scenes.
On a scale from one to ten, how much of a creep is Chic?
Oh my God, 11.
He’s so creepy. He’s so, so creepy! He’s keeping it close to his chest. He’s not saying ultracreepy things. You don’t know about this guy. People are so intrigued with figuring out what exactly is wrong with him, and in that, the creepiness just rises to the top. It’s prevailing, you can see it! It’s his look — not his physical looks, but how he looks with his eyes. There’s so much more going on under the hood that people don’t necessarily know yet.
The first thing I thought when he took the babies was, “Oh, he’s definitely gonna drown them in the river.”
Oh, I know. [Laughs.] Put down those babies!
What type of direction did Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa give you about playing the role? Were there any particular pop-culture figures he wanted you to emulate?
Roberto pretty much gave me free reign to create this character out of almost nothing. There wasn’t the need to stick to the comics. That was the most wonderful thing as an actor, having the freedom to figure out the character myself and figure it out in the best way for me. Chic comes into this house with this perfect family and is so uncomfortable in his own skin. Growing up in such a horrible way, this is all just so strange to him. That’s the thing with Chic. It’s not that he’s maniacal or thinking in a way to end these people’s lives. He’s self-sustaining and that’s all that matters. He doesn’t trust anymore.
Did you model Chic on anyone in particular, then?
I was given a canvas with Chic. I had this canvas I was able to craft this character on, and I found out more and more about him with every passing week. I grew up watching film, and I was able to pull from different people and put them together based on things I’ve seen. A lot of it isn’t from creepy things — it’s the way certain people hold their eyes or hold certain objects. There are pieces of Requiem for a Dream in Chic, and things from Peaky Blinders. It was a collection of so many different things pulled together. There were even comedies that had relevance. If you look at this guy, he grew up in such an awful, horrible situation and doesn’t trust anymore, and he’s then thrown into this picture-perfect family. There’s humor in that! It couldn’t be more opposite than how Chic was raised.
Not to say whether Chic’s good or bad, but I’ve always been more intrigued by the villainous nature of characters than the heroic nature of them. I love the heroes, but there’s so much richness tied to the villainous side of things, because there’s the wrongdoing and the sin and the things that every human goes through. We’re able to deflect our own mistakes or regrets onto another character and level the playing field and go, “Well, maybe it’s not that bad.” We tend to attach to a villainous character in a therapeutic way. I love what Chic is able to do for people because it sets the bar for where they go, “Whoa, I may have done this and I may feel this way, but look at this guy.”
Chic also toes the line between villainous and sympathetic. Where do you think his motivations lie?
Number one is survival. That’s the number one thing on his mind at all times. That’s all he knows, all he’s grown up with. When I think of motives, I think of characters putting certain things into place to get want they want in a maniacal way. But with Chic, it’s not necessarily that. He just wants to survive. Whatever towers fall down in result of that, so be it, in Chic’s mind.
I’m reminded of the scenes where he’s cutting up a Cooper family photo. What do you think Chic’s endgame is? To destroy the Cooper family? To have Alice to himself?
It wasn’t his intention to wreck this family. But you look at somebody who was tossed aside and not cared about whatsoever, and then brought to this perfect family who are trying get him to act a certain way. A lot of bad stuff has happened because Chic is in the house and people feel bad for him, so they take his side and they help him out, and that starts to implode in the family. And then you have Chic cutting the picture. It wasn’t necessarily his intention to ostracize the family members, but now that it’s happening and set in motion, there’s a humor with that. He’s like, “I could care less, bye bye, Hal!” He doesn’t care about this perfect, wonderful family, because at the end of the day, they’ll never understand what it was like growing up with nobody. He has fun with that and finds it humorous.
Chic randomly breaks out in tears numerous times this season. How did you prepare for all of that crying?
It’s a lot, isn’t it? I’ve always been a thinker. My parents have always told me to stop thinking so much and to relax. I have the blessing and the curse of having an insane imagination. But in this situation, it was great because I’m able to go right into the feelings of Chic. It’s such a strange dynamic, because yes, he’s crying and yes, he’s sad, but he knows what he’s doing and he knows how to mess with people and stir things up. Not necessarily to make it implode, but to have some fun with it. This is such a strange situation for him, so he’s going to milk it and play with it as much as he possibly can. It’s funny, because I’m completely the opposite from Chic. But on set, when you’re actually there and everything’s rolling, you feel like this guy for however long we’re shooting the scene. It’s been so fun to dive into this guy’s head. He’s so crazy.
This interview has been edited and condensed.