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Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse Explains How Jughead’s Social Anxiety Mirrors His Own

Cole Sprouse attends PaleyFest Los Angeles 2018 "Riverdale" at Dolby Theatre on March 25, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Cole Sprouse has quite a bit in common with Jughead Jones. During the last episode of Riverdale, Jughead revealed that he would be running for class president with Betty (Lili Reinhart) by his side — something that may seem out of character for the shy outsider. However, that was the whole point.

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“It was kind of a big character moment for Jughead because it’s him saying, ‘I’m no longer afraid of a public platform. How do you feel about me doing something like this? Will you help me with this?’ He’s a kid in season one that had a ton of social anxiety and is figuring out how to navigate through that. Announcing he wants to be president is kind of big for his anxiety,” Sprouse, 25, told Us Weekly exclusively ahead of the Riverdale panel at PaleyFest on Sunday, March 25.

Lili Reinhart as Betty and Cole Spouse as Jughead on Riverdale. Dean Buscher/The CW

Sprouse landed his first role at age eight and continued to work as an actor until 2011. At that point, he decided to take a break and attend college. While in New York City for school, he learned to face his own battle with anxiety.

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“I had some pretty bad social anxiety when I was little just because I was raised in celebrity culture, and feeling watched all the time,” he told Us. “And at least for me — and I can only really speak from personal experiences — I didn’t really get over it until I sort of put my hand into the fire and said, ‘OK, this is something I’ve got to live with. Let’s deal with it.’”

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He continued: “I went to New York, I lived in the city, I was in one of the most populated places on Earth and just kind of embraced who I was, how people viewed me and how I navigate other people. I think at some point I asked myself, ‘Do I ignore the pink elephant, or do I address that it’s there and just continue to live my life?’ And I think Jughead’s doing that as well.”

Riverdale airs on The CW Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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