KJ Apa is a New Zealand born actor who, following a world-wide talent search, was successfully cast as Archie Andrews in the Netflix TV show Riverdale.
Riverdale is based on the characters from the Archie Comics series, and focuses on Archie and his friends, and the mysterious on goings in the town. Proving very popular, it has already been renewed for a second season, and KJ talks to us about his experiences as Archie, and what we can expect from season two.
[WARNING: INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ALL OF THE SHOW]
Kicking things off, KJ was asked how blown away had he been with the success of Riverdale:
It’s a good feeling for sure. A lot of the cast has been shooting for such a long period of time, and you feel like you’re in this bubble, because you’re making this stuff as you’re going along but you’re completely wasted in the end and wondering who is actually receiving this content we’re making? For it to finally come out and for the reaction it’s had, we’re really stoked with it.
KJ then went on to talk about how it felt coming to conventions like MCM and the reaction he has received from fans:
It’s great to see the fans face to face. A lot of it is on social media and I try not to engage with it too much and look at all the stuff, but it’s good to see the fans in the flesh. It’s great because they’re telling us what they love, what they don’t really love which is interesting. The most common question I get asked by the fans is Betty or Veronica. I can’t give an answer to that because if I do the internet will explode. I’d probably get roasted as well.
When asked if he had grown up with the comics and how it felt being cast as the iconic character of Archie, KJ had this to say:
I didn’t grow up with the comics, and I wasn’t too familiar with the comics when I read the pilot, but my Old Man grew up with them. He grew up in Samoa, I’m actually half Samoan, so it’s crazy to know that Archie made it all the way over to the Islands as well.
The series makes sure to focus on all the characters, not just Archie himself, and KJ explained to us a little bit about what he thought of this progression:
I think it’s good that we’re exploring a lot of the characters from the comics, and that we’re incorporating iconic aspects such as the love triangle, and diving into the characters on a more relatable level.
KJ was then asked about what he was looking forward to in the next season, and about the Easter eggs that had been dropped about characters such as Sabrina:
Sabrina isn’t set in stone yet, we don’t really know what’s going to happen with that, but I’m really excited that Hiram, Veronica’s father, will be included in season 2. Mark Consuelos is playing that character which is awesome. We all got to meet him the other day and he’s a legend. I’m also really excited to explore a different side to Archie, a darker side that we haven’t seen yet after Fred gets shot. It shakes things up, and things get pretty gnarly for him.
KJ then went on to talk about the season finale and what they knew about it beforehand:
We actually had a completely different ending whilst we were shooting. Only me and Luke got sent the ending the night before we shot that scene, and we sat down and had a chat about it, spoke to the writers and got it done. No-one else knew about it at the time except for us.
When questioned what his dream project would be after Riverdale, KJ had this to say:
I’ve always wanted to play Spider-Man, but I think Tom Holland has that one wrapped up! I want to be Spider-Man in real life more than I’d want to play him.
KJ then went on to talk about the love triangle with the girls on screen, and what made it so unique:
I think that the unique thing about this love triangle is that it has a history behind it. It’s been going for 75 years. To be able to play this character and be involved with it is a responsibility, and I think we all feel blessed to be able to take these characters and put them to life for the fans, and to do it honestly in a way that people will appreciate it is our goal.
Fans have their favourite moments on screen, but KJ was then asked what was his favourite moment on set:
I haven’t watched all of our stuff yet, but there are definitely certain scenes, for instance the scene I did with Luke at the end. They only used a little bit of what we did in the end, but that was a special scene for me. Me and Luke are really close.
When asked if he would be interested in doing a crossover series, KJ responded with this:
At the moment I’m just focussed on doing Riverdale, but I’ll see where it takes me. There’s been a couple of conversations floating around about it, but my opinion is that we should just focus on Riverdale for now because we’re still such a young show, but maybe in the future. I know there has been talk of a musical episode, but I hope not!
Talking more about the future of the show, KJ spoke about what he would like to see happen:
I think because of the history of the show and the thousands of comics, I think there are a lot of ideas we can draw from. I leave that up to the writers and we are kept in the dark and we don’t know what is being written until we read it, which is usually only a couple of days before we start shooting. With the death of Jason Blossom, they didn’t tell us anything, we got the last scene the night before. We don’t have a clue what’s going on most of the time.
KJ was then questioned about the iconic look of Archie, and the challenges it took to get the look right:
The hair is gnarly. The first time we did it I was sitting in that chair for about 6-7 hours. They were trying to get the tone of it right and I was hungry and not happy, I got hangry! Then they did the eyebrows. They had a certain formula, that has been passed on to several different hairdressers. I don’t know how girls do it! Every two weeks I’m there getting my hair bleached and my eyebrows done. Other people in the salon look at me oddly because I’m sitting there having my eyebrows dyed orange! I do worry if it goes on for multiple seasons that I won’t have any eyebrows left!
Following on from that, KJ was asked if he worried about being typecast due to Archie’s iconic looks:
100%. It was one of the things that I worried about when I started the show, but those aren’t really the things you should be worrying about as an actor. I’m lucky to be working. There are millions of actors out there who aren’t working and are on a constant grind, so I am thankful for the work I am doing right now, and I feel blessed to be able to do it.
A final question asked KJ if there were any more hints he could give us about what would happen in season 2:
With Fred being shot that is definitely going to change things for Archie. It’s like his Peter Parker/Bruce Wayne moment. He wants vengeance, and he will desperately go out to find it. That’s going to switch something in his mind and we’re going to see a darker side. Another thing for season two is Riverdale is going to separate a little bit between the North side and South side, and eventually everyone is going to have to choose a side. I believe it is going to be a big season and there is going to be a lot of stuff which we are going to be diving into which is going to be really exciting. I can’t wait for you guys to see it and I can’t wait to start.
Season 2 of RIVERDALE premieres October 11th at 8pm on The CW.