KJ Apa Opens up About Toxic 'Riverdale' Set

Published February 28th, 2021 - 10:25 GMT
Apa isn't alone in complaining about the restrictive atmosphere on Riverdale
Apa isn't alone in complaining about the restrictive atmosphere on Riverdale
KJ Apa had some harsh words about his CW series Riverdale in a new interview in which he said working on the series was like being 'in jail.'

The 23-year-old New Zealander actor opened up for Interview Magazine in a conversation with his Songbird costar Demi Moore that was published earlier this week.

He chatted with the 58-year-old Ghost star about the seemingly oppressive rules on the set of Riverdale, which is inspired by the classic Archie comics series.

The two screen stars opened their interview with a discussion of their film Songbird, which takes place in 2024, when the novel coronavirus has mutated into Covid-23, a more contagious and deadly strain that forces most of the world's population to stay indoors perpetually.

'I felt so free coming from a show where I feel like I’m in jail a lot of the time,' he said. 'There are so many restrictions on what I can and can’t do.'

He continued: 'With this [Songbird] character, it was like, “Wow, this is what it’s like to really express myself in a natural way.” I wasn’t covered in makeup or hair products. I had long hair and a beard. I just felt free.'

Apa is best known for his Riverdale look, in which his character Archie Andrews has red–orange hair and usually sports a clean-shaven face.

He departed significantly from that put-together look in Songbird, in which his character sports thick stubble and he wore his natural brown hair in a shaggy pandemic hairdo.

Lest he be accused of being ungrateful for the career-boasting role, the TV star was quick to add that he was 'so grateful for the show and its success,' but he also complained of 'pressure' that comes with playing a beloved character.

'There’s been so much pressure in playing Archie. I’m so grateful for the show and its success, but at the same time, there’s a lot of baggage that comes with that success,' he told Moore. 'I feel like the only people I can talk to about my issues are my costars, the people who can really relate to me.'

He singled out Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead Jones, as a helpful presence because of his experience in the film and television industry going back to his work as a child with his twin brother Dylan Sprouse. 

He also complained about being judged for his personal attitudes by fans who can't always separate him from his character.

'There are times when I’m like, “Wow, they really have no idea that we are actual people. They can’t separate us from our characters,"' he said.

'You don’t have that in other professions. You don’t dissect the life of a builder and start judging the decisions he makes in his life with his wife and kids. 

'As an actor, I will be judged on everything: my political opinions, my opinions on drugs, my opinions on the people I want to be with. Everything. It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with,' he added.

Apa and Moore found some common ground during their conversation, as they realized they both got their starts on soap operas, with the Riverdale star working on Shortland Street, while Moore appeared on General Hospital. 

She revealed she was inspired by Paris, Texas actress Nastassja Kinski, who was her friend and neighbor at the time. 

Apa isn't alone in complaining about the restrictive atmosphere on Riverdale, as his costar Lili Reinhart has previously said she felt like a 'prisoner' when she returned to shoot the fifth season in Vancouver amid the pandemic.

'I genuinely feel like a prisoner, going back to work, because I cannot leave Canada. That doesn't feel good,' she said in a profile for Nylon.

'You can't go home for Thanksgiving, can't visit your family. No one can come visit you unless they quarantine for two weeks. It just feels f***ed.'


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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