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SDCC 2016: ‘Riverdale’ Star KJ Apa Talks Bringing Archie to Life, Teases the Pilot & Much More

Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

Set to premiere mid-season on The CW, Riverdale is a fresh take on the Archie Comics. The new TV show follows Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and their friends as they explore the surrealism of small town life – the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade. Riverdale will stand out in a crowd of superhero shows on The CW as it brings a film noir take on the teen drama.

At SDCC 2016, Riverdale star KJ Apa (Archie) chats about bringing the iconic character to life, how his portrayal of Archie stands out and some Riverdale pilot teases.

Check out the full interview with KJ Apa below!

So what about Riverdale’s portrayal of Archie sets him apart?

KJ Apa: I think one of the main things is, and this goes for Archie and everyone else is we are getting deeper into the lives of each of these characters. In the comics, it’s just kind of the happy, kind of classic, happy, Archie characters. I think we really go deeper into the lives of these characters, which makes it I think, more appealing to people and more relatable. So, that’s definitely one thing.

How is it bringing this character to life and looking at the Archie Comics?

KJ Apa: It was tricky for me in the beginning. Coming from New Zealand and playing just an iconic American character, I was nervous. I don’t know. The fans are so aggressive. I was thinking, ‘Man I hope I don’t get too much stick from these guys.’ The feedback has been really well, really good. So, I’m really pleased with it.

Were you familiar with the Archie Comics before booking Riverdale?

KJ Apa: I wasn’t familiar with the comics before I actually started working on the project, but my Dad was really familiar with them. So, I gave him a call from L.A. He filled me in. He read them when he was a kid so, yeah, it was good.

How did you get the American accent down?

KJ Apa: Actually, I don’t know. I just kind of can do it I guess. I used to talk to myself as a kid. I was one of those weird little kids, but it was always in an American accent. So, I guess that’s why.

KJ Apa and Luke Perry in the Pilot episode of Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW
KJ Apa and Luke Perry in the Pilot episode of Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW

How did you feel when you saw yourself with Archie’s red hair for the first time?

KJ Apa: Honestly, I was scared because for a start, they have to dye it once a week. I’m shooting for six months. They have to bleach it. I’m probably going to be bald by the end of the series. This isn’t the actual color right now. I’m filming, so they had to dye it black. It’s usually like dark, dark brown. I’m obviously going to have to dye it back before we start shooting.

The CW right now mostly has superhero shows. What’s it like bringing a teen drama to the network?

KJ Apa: It’s awesome. We are getting so much great feedback and stuff. It’s good. I think our show is so much different to all the other CW shows. I think it’s different to everything on TV at the moment. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone is comparing it to Gossip Girl and Twin Peaks and stuff, but to be honest, I think we stand on our own, which is exciting. It was a big risk for us as well, to create this Archie. When I first heard about it I was like, ‘I’m not too sure. If we’re gonna do it, it’s going to have to be really, really good.’ I think we managed to kill it.

In Riverdale, Archie does have a passion for music. Can you talk a little about that?

KJ Apa: Yeah, so after the summer Archie discovers his passion for music. Which kind of collides with his Dad’s vision for him to play football. So, that creates a bit of tension between Fred, played by Luke Perry, who is the man. So, Archie creates his own band and there’s a bit of conflict between him and Josie and the Pussycats.

A little bit of a rivalry between Archie and Josie’s bands?

KJ Apa: Yeah, which you see in the pilot as well.

Does Archie’s band have a name yet?

KJ Apa: All I know is that he creates his own band.

What kind of music can we expect from Archie’s band?

KJ Apa: It’s gonna be kind of singer-songwriter. Kind of John Mayer-ish kind of stuff. We actually recorded a song as well for the pilot.

Did you sing before booking the role?

KJ Apa: I actually didn’t. I’m actually not a confident singer at all. I’m going to be completely honest, but I just had to do it. We went into the studio, smashed it out. Probably a bit of voice tweaking, but it’s all right.

Can you tease what the song is about?

The song is inspired by his romance with a certain person. The inappropriate romance he has in the first episode. That’s what the song is inspired by.

Catch KJ Apa in Riverdale, which premieres mid-season on The CW.


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