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We chat with K.J. Apa about his comic book romance, that fiery red hair, and what it’s like having ‘90s icon parents.

When a nostalgic American comic book comes to life in the form a CW TV series, the stakes are high as it tries to appeal to old and new, millennial fans. Based on the ever-popular Archie Comics series, Riverdale debuted its first season with a bang and a second season is already in the works. New Zealand-born K.J. Apa steps into Archie Andrews’ shoes as the red-headed, jock and musician who delicately breaks hearts while trying his best to keep his parents, played by Luke Perry and Molly Ringwald, happy. With the season finale around the corner (May 11th), Archie and his friends band together to uncover the real story behind one of their classmates murder.

Did you have any knowledge of Archie Comics prior to the show?
KJA
: I didn’t, actually. When I got the audition, I had to do some research, go online, and find out what it was all about. I quickly learned that it was massive, that it’s been going for about 75 years.

I guess it’s probably surprising for people to know that you’re not from the States.
KJA
: Yeah, everyone gets really surprised when they hear my accent in real life. No one knows that I’m from New Zealand, which is kind of cool. I kind of like it.

So, you’re not naturally a redhead. How often do you have to get your hair colored?
KJA
: When we’re shooting, it’s pretty gnarly. It’s like once every two weeks. I have to get it dyed, the roots and stuff, because my hair grows really fast which doesn’t help. But yeah, it’s like once every two weeks—and the eyebrows.

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Riverdale star KJ Apa may play the incredibly-attractive “boy next door” on the show, but he’s aiming for another label in real life: “Daddy.”

Anyone who follows the show’s vigorous Twitter activity will see phrase “Daddy AF” thrown his way quite a bit. During an interview with TooFab, the 19-year-old actor confesses he started the trend himself after witnessing his co-stars fawning over a few older gentlemen.

“Ha! I started that actually,” Apa told TooFab. “It started as a personal joke between Camila [Mendes] and I because all of the girls on the show are obsessed with older men, ‘Daddies.’ And I realized you can only be a ‘Daddy’ once you’re like 26, have a beard and kinda rugged and I’m literally not that so I’m trying to earn it from the girls and gain that title since the new goal in life is to be called ‘Daddy.'”

During the show’s hiatus earlier this season, the New Zealand star took a road trip with co-star Cole Sprouse. But he admitted they had to make one very important stop before hitting the highway.

“Well, when the show wrapped, the very first thing I did was drive to the salon to get my hair dyed,” Apa said. “Then I went to the supermarket to get a whole lot of shitty junk food because when I’m on set, I have a very strict diet.”

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Welcome to scandalous, abs-filled, hormonal world of Riverdale, Archie. The CW teen drama has taken a decidedly broodier and definitely sexier take on the Archie comics, and a lot of that has to do with casting, with Greg Berlanti & Co. picking the half-Samoan New Zealand native K.J. Apa for the lead role. (No, he isn’t a natural redhead, but it’s nothing that some hair dye can’t overcome.) It’s been a big year for Apa: He also stars in the Lasse Hallström movie A Dog’s Purpose, which got into some controversy when a leaked video appeared to show animal endangerment on set. (An independent investigation concluded that the footage had been edited and that animals had not been harmed.) Vulture got on the phone to talk to Apa about suffering through a “gnarly” dye job, who he’s shipping on Riverdale, and what it’s like to become a sex object.

Did you always go by K.J.?

Yeah, I always go by K.J. My real name is Keneti James Fitzgerald, but K.J. stands for Keneti James, which is a Samoan name.

Your father’s Samoan, right?

Yes, he is. I have a massive Samoan family. And the Samoan culture has always played a massive part of my life. I’ve got hundreds of family on my dad’s side that live in Samoa and in New Zealand. I’ve just been surrounded by the culture ever since I was a kid. I actually used to speak Samoan, but me and my sisters all kind of lost it. We go there at least once a year to see family. And my dad recently just got a traditional Samoan tattoo. He’s a chief in Samoa, so he got that tattoo to commemorate it.

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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.

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Current Projects
Riverdale
Archie Andrews On The CW in 2017
A subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life - the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale's wholesome facade.
IMDB / Pictures / Official Site

A Dog's Purpose
N/A January 27, 2017
A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.
IMDB / Pictures / Official Site
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Colton HaynesLaura DreyfussLili ReinhartLili ReinhartMadelaine PetschMadelaine PetschRiverdale
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