Why Ross Butler Left ‘Riverdale’ for ’13 Reasons Why’
Ross Butler's 2017 was bigger than most. After a few years playing supporting parts in shows like Chasing Life and Teen Wolf, he found himself at the center of two of TV's biggest new teen dramas: playing bad boy Reggie Mantel in the CW's Riverdale and high school jock Zach Dempsey in Netflix's 13 Reasons Why.
The latter was initially billed as a mini-series, but following its headline-kindling reception, the series creators decided to push for a second season. And as they awaited a seemingly inevitable greenlight, Butler chose to exit Riverdale so he could take on a larger 13RW role. (Charles Melton later replaced him as Reggie in Riverdale).
Now, over a year after the fact, Butler has finally explained what went into his thought process in an interview with Vulture.
"Before season two was confirmed for 13, I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to focus on one character or split two characters and have a smaller role on both shows," he explained. "Reggie’s a great character, but it’s a different tone. I connected with Zach on a much more real level where I didn’t have to create so much of a character for him."
Butler continued: "Reggie’s more outspoken, like that jock archetype. Zach is too, but Zach has more colors, at least from what I saw. I was in this weird floating space where the CW had recast Reggie, but Netflix still hadn’t confirmed that season two of 13 had been picked up. Thankfully, it did."
Both characters are flawed and tangible, but Zach certainly does a bit more emotional heavylifting. In 13 Reasons Why's second season, he's mourning the loss of a girl he loved and contending with the often cruel, violent realities of high school, while Reggie is dealing a drug called Jingle Jangle, trolling the streets with a crime-fighting troupe of teen vigilantes, and getting manipulated by a sinister mob boss. The stakes are just as high, but it's more action, less heart.
Clearly, one struck more of a chord with Butler, and Melton seems to be filling in just fine.