Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Molly Ringwald said working on The CW mystery drama Riverdale after co-star Luke Perry died has been a bittersweet experience.
Season 4 of the Archie Comics adaptation is set to debut Wednesday night. Ringwald and Perry played Mary and Fred Andrews, the parents of the show's central hero Archie, who is played by KJ Apa.
Perry died in March following a stroke. He was 52.
"We're all grieving, specifically Archie and Mary, and also KJ and Molly," the 51-year-old actress told UPI during a round-table interview with reporters Sunday at New York Comic Con.
"Luke Perry was really my touchstone," she added. "Most of my scenes were with him or with KJ and, of course, KJ was incredibly close to Luke, so I think we're dealing with that and the fact that grief is not necessarily linear. You don't just get over someone."
The Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink icon hopes young viewers who have lost loved ones will find comfort in watching how the show deals with Fred's death.
"They can see these characters navigate and go on with their lives, but still remember and honor the person," she said.
Series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said the Season 4 premiere episode will focus on the Andrews' family drama.
New villains will enter the picture in episode 2, and they will be directly connected to last season's foreboding flash-forward scene, which featured Archie, Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) burning the signature hat of the absent Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and vowing to go their separate ways.
Skeet Ulrich said in a separate Comic Con interview that his character, FP Jones, a gang leader-turned-sheriff and Jughead's father, will try to help Archie as much as he can this season.
"It's all about the loss of Fred and, subsequent to the premiere episode is, I think, quite a bit of taking care of Archie or at least being very aware of what Archie is into and showing up for him, which is what Fred did for Jughead and what friends do," said the 49-year-old actor, who is best known for his roles in Jericho, Scream and The Craft.
Ulrich said he likes sharing scenes with Sprouse because he is immensely talented and incredibly smart.
"Working with him is always a blast, and there are things that go on between FB and Jughead that start to tear at them, and it's because of both of their natures," Ulrich teased their father-son dynamic for Season 4. "Jughead is an investigator at heart and FP is quite the opposite. He likes to hide away, and when the two butt heads, it's really interesting."
Ringwald's character, Mary, can be expected to show up any time a lawyer is needed this season.
"She happens to do many different kinds of law. If there is divorce law, criminal law, divorce law [to be practiced], she can do it all. You get to see her in action," Ringwald said.
Riverdale is the rare young-adult drama that appeals to teens and their parents since it casts beloved stars from the 1980s and '90s in complicated, well-defined adult roles.
"The fandom is about Cole and KJ and Cami and Lili, and it would be very easy to just do that, but I think the creative genius of it is knowing that is not enough," Ulrich said. "Kids are really starting to see the flaws in their parents for the first time and the show speaks to that, and I think it offers a voice to teenagers through the parents that, 'You are not alone.' Parents are flawed and it's OK. ... I always liked that about the psychology of the show."
Ringwald joked that she never seems to lose her teen following.
"I get whole new groups of people and there are a lot of crossovers. A lot of people who watch Riverdale watch the John Hughes movies and Secret Life of the American Teenager," she said.