How do you make a splash with a live-action TV teen drama based on the long-running, always-wholesome Archie comics series? One good way is to hit the internet with a sexy, shirtless shot of its star. The teaser video, which appeared in November 2015, featured New Zealand actor KJ Apa, then 19 years old, looking considerably more manly than the good-natured, slightly goofy Archie familiar from the comic strip, and it served notice that "Riverdale" (CW 2017-) would be a darker, edgier version of the characters everybody knows. The show puts a murder in the town of Riverdale, as Archie and the gang help to find the killer. Apa was already established at home as an actor and sex symbol. Born Keneti James Apa in Auckland, he was of mixed New Zealand and Maorian heritage. As a teenager he joined the cast of "Shortland Street," New Zealand's longest-running (since 1992) and most popular prime-time soap opera. During summer 2015 his agent brought him to Hollywood, ultimately securing the "Riverdale" role. Also a musician, he recorded a solo guitar album at age 14. Apa spent the summer of 2016 in Boston shooting the independent drama "Alter Rock" (2017) with director Andrzej Bartkowiak. Loosely based on events around the Boston Marathon bombings, it concerns a young woman who falls in love with a Muslim immigrant during a vacation on Nantucket. He also appeared in "A Dog's Purpose" (2017), based on the W. Bruce Cameron novel, starring Dennis Quaid and Britt Robertson, before co-starring alongside Amandla Stenberg in critically-acclaimed teen race-relations drama "The Hate U Give" (2018).
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