On Wednesday night’s episode, Ripa took a trip to the town with pep to guest star as Hiram Lodge’s mistress, Mrs. Mulwray. Back when Ripa first announced her appearance on the show, astute film noir lovers noted that her character shares a name with Faye Dunaway’s iconic role in Chinatown.
The episode made good on this reference, dotted with plenty of winking nods to private eyes and making Mulwray a water inspector (the chief mystery in Chinatown circles around control of the water system in Los Angeles). It even paid tribute to the 1974 award-winning film with its final line, “Forget it, Jughead, it’s Riverdale,” a riff on “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
Yet, Ripa says she didn’t even realize the ties between the two until she had finished filming. “It didn’t even occur to me until about a week after I shot it,” she tells EW. “It sort of dawned on me because we were talking about Faye Dunaway doing Broadway. Then all of a sudden, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. But I was glad that I didn’t have the burden of that looming over me. She’s tough shoes to fill.”
Mrs. Mulwray is Hiram Lodge’s mistress and a water inspector who has been testing the water in Sweetwater River, declaring it both clean and unsanitary in different documents to help Hiram achieve his dastardly aims. Ripa says Mulwray is just another cog in Hiram’s evil machine.
“She is a mistress who is definitely on his payroll, and who knows what that means? All of Hiram’s relationships are at some point or another transactional. She is definitely one of his transactions,” muses Ripa. “In my backstory for my character, I’m not Hiram’s only mistress. Hiram probably has many mistresses. I’m just the one that works at the water plant.”
Ripa says it was her husband who first offered her the part. “He said [creator], ‘Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] wants to know if you would be interested in doing a role on the show.’ [Our son] Michael had just played a young version of Mark, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, honey, they’re going to be so sick of Consueloses on the set of Riverdale,” she explains. “I started naming all these women that I thought would be the perfect actress to play [Hiram’s] mistress, and he was like, ‘No, Roberto wants you.’ How can I turn down an offer like that?”
The actress and host talk show says she derived no shortage of pleasure from transitioning from Consuelos’ wife off screen to his mistress on screen. “I find it endlessly amusing because I never really consider myself mistress material,” she laughs. “But it thrilled me to no end to play my husband’s mistress. I just found it amusing and sexy, the naughtiness of it all.”
As Mrs. Mulwray, Ripa appears in a single scene in the episode, facing off against Jughead (Cole Sprouse), gun in hand, as he investigates her falsified records. “I’ve known [Cole] since he was a little boy,” says Ripa. “I’ve known him a really long time. It was great to not just hang out with my husband, but the entire cast.”
Though Ripa was only briefly in this episode and Hiram still has a reckoning to face with Hermione (who as it turns out asked F.P Jones to shoot Hiram), she says she’d be open to returning to the series for more fun. “There is nobody I find sexier or more fun to work with than my husband,” she says. “Although I will say that Hiram and Hermione are the best-looking couple on television. I say that all the time.”
Indeed, Ripa loves this TV couple so much, she even put Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) on her Consuelos family Christmas card, using a Lodge family portrait. She adds, “I think they’re the best looking couple, but if Hiram is going to have a first position mistress, why can’t it be Mrs. Mulwray?”
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.