“I felt so free coming from a show where I feel like I’m in jail a lot of the time,” the New Zealand native, 23, said about working on the film Songbird, which he stars in with Moore, 58. “There are so many restrictions on what I can and can’t do [on Riverdale]. With this 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 was only 18 when he began playing the lead role of Archie Andrews on Riverdale. Since the show is based on the beloved Archie comics, the actor feels a lot of pressure taking on the part.
“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. 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 said. “I try and look at it from a fan’s perspective to understand the way they think. But 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.’”
Apa’s costar Lili Reinhart, who plays Betty Cooper on the show, has also likened her work on Riverdale to serving jail time.
“I genuinely feel like a prisoner, going back to work, because I cannot leave Canada. That doesn’t feel good,” the Hustlers actress, 24, told Nylon magazine in September 2020 about returning to film during the COVID-19 pandemic and being unable to go home for the holidays.
In his conversation with Moore, the A Dog’s Purpose star divulged how difficult it was to begin working at a young age.
“The hardest part was not being with my mom and dad. As I get older, I’m trying to be less career-driven so it doesn’t consume my life,” he shared. “Every time I get a hiatus, it’s like, ‘Do I shoot a movie or do I spend time with my family?’ When I’m older, I want to be able to be proud of the decisions that I’ve made now.”
The fifth season of Riverdale premiered in January on the CW. This season included a major time jump, placing the characters a few years out of high school where the show has taken place until this point.
Even though it can be tough, Apa still stands by every decision he’s made and is “grateful to be working during this crazy time.”