THE BIRDS AND THE BEES — After a lesson in sex education leaves the gang more confused than ever, Veronica (Camila Mendes) decides to organize a make-out party at the Pembrooke. Elsewhere, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) attempts to help Ethel (guest star Shannon Purser) out of some trouble only to find himself in hot water as well.
I spoke with the actor about embracing the 50s element for the final season, what Archie has taught him, why this show was so pivotal for him, and more. Keep reading for the first part of our interview discussion and stay tuned for Part 2, which will be out after episode 7×04!
After everything Archie has been through, what is it like to sort of reset his character to a simpler, more innocent time? As I said before, the performance you’re giving is fantastic.
KJ Apa: Yeah, it’s been really fun. I wanted to come back this season, and I knew we were going to be embracing the 50s element, which was something I was really excited about, so I did put a lot of thought into the Archie that I wanted to play and send off the show with. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I need to just be the Archie from the comics. It made the most sense and I feel like this season really allows for all of our characters to really lean into the original characters from the comics, you know? Everything is all there, to be honest, but the humor is something that I was really excited about and had spoken to Roberto about it. Any opportunity to be funny, I’m like, “Oh, I’ll be there. I’m ready for it.”
There have been a lot of parallel and nostalgic moments so far in the three episodes that I’ve seen. As an actor, does that bring you back to the earlier seasons when you shot those original scenes? And do you have a favorite that you’ve gotten to do so far?
The shot where Betty’s kind of walking down the hall. Those hallway shots at Riverdale High are pretty nostalgic because it reminds me of the school we used to shoot at for real and during the pilot, stuff like that, Lee Toland Krieger who directed that. But yeah, I mean, any opportunity to add some throwbacks is always really fun.
Is there something you feel like Archie has personally taught you or a legacy you hope he leaves behind for the fans?
Yeah, good question. I think I can speak for right now, this season and the Archie from this season has taught me a lot just because of the tone and the lighter tone. It’s so refreshing to be able to come to work and to just have fun. I feel like that’s huge. I think it’s teaching me also to just kind of chill out a little bit, like don’t take things so seriously because this Archie is definitely like that, and all the characters, I think.
Riverdale has such a passionate fanbase, you and I have spoken about that before. Over the years has there been a most meaningful fan moment or an encounter that stuck out to you and resonated with you for some reason?
Actually, I was at dinner with Cole, Charles, and Drew the other night, we had just gone to a movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, it’s actually really good, by the way. We were eating in Vancouver, it was the weekend, we had off that week and this guy was just rolling down the street on his electric scooter, and he stopped and almost started crying just from seeing us. It really hit me in that moment because at times, it can be hard being up here in Vancouver away from my family and with the show ending and stuff like that. It’s moments like that, this guy was just so wrapped up in how much we have kind of influenced his life and he came all the way from away from India, and I was walking home that night thinking, “Wow, I need to be more conscious of the fact that there’s so many people who watch this show and are genuinely influenced and touched by it.” So that really hit me.
In episode three, we have that makeout party and sex montage. What was it like to film that with all of you?
It was really fun. I mean, look, we’ve all kissed each other so many times, it’s just really normal at this point. To be honest, funnily enough, we were so short on time that day, and we had to really rush through a lot of that and it ended up turning out really good. We had to rush through all that but yeah, I mean, that stuff for me, it’s just another day, to be honest. I get so many people asking me, and it’s just literally another day at the office and we’re all pretty chill about it these days.
It came out great. I was speaking with Nicholas and since he’s new to the show, he was telling me there were a lot of laughs and about how everyone was trying to make each other break while filming. It’s so nice to hear those behind the scenes stories.
You forget what it’s like your first time shooting a TV show. Nicholas and I chatted a few times and working with people like that, it reminds you. I was so nervous the first time I had to have a kissing scene on Riverdale. I think it was with Camila in the pilot and I was scared out of my mind, to be honest. I didn’t know what to do. And it’s scary, but now seven years in, it’s like, “Oh, here we go again.”
Can you tell me about getting ready to wrap the series? I mean, it’s been part of your life for such a long time. It was the first show I ever covered as a journalist. What is your mindset during the final season?
It’s exciting. I’m getting ready to move on creatively. But at the same time, it’s really sad. I’ll never get another opportunity like this ever again and I know that the rest of the cast feels like that too. It’s been such a pivotal moment in all of our careers and our lives. I’ve experienced so much of my own personal life while being on the show. So it’s sad, of course, just so many memories. I’m really just trying to be as present as I possibly can this season because yeah, we’re going to be looking back and wishing we could go back in time. I know that I will. You don’t get to work with your best friends, you know?