K.J. Apa on his rise from New Zealand soap opera actor to American heartthrob

The “Riverdale” star and New Zealand native discusses his new film “I Still Believe,” plus what he remembers most about former co-star Luke Perry.
6:04 | 03/09/20

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Transcript for K.J. Apa on his rise from New Zealand soap opera actor to American heartthrob
Are you a natural redhead like me? I'm sorry. You are from down under, and I saw you in "The hate you love that movie. What was your big break? You're so young, and you're enjoying great success. Where did you begin? I started on a show in new Zealand. It's a soap opera over there. I was on there for about a year and a half. So that was the break. As a lot of actors do on soaps. It taught me how to act really. I had no experience before that. Most of us don't. But you've taken off. You've really taken off. How has this been for you? I mean, "Riverdale." It's been a wild ride. I mean, as soon as I came over to the states, I worked with britt Robinson who I worked on this movie with in "A dog's purpose," and "Riverdale" was soon after that, and here I amp. You're far from home. I miss my family all the time. I miss my mom. I miss my mom. Good guy. The new zealanders and Brits and Australians, they can all do American accents really well. I think that's because we're constantly bombarded with American content over there when you grow up. All TV is American. Music, radio. So I think it's easier for us to do it than it would be for you guys to do. Was a word hard to learn? The hardest one has been burger and girlfriend. Say it again. Burger. Burger. I'm saying it to my accent. In the American accent. It sounds like booger. Burger. Burger. It can be problematic at a restaurant. Girlfriend's hard. Girlfriend. Girlfriend. Girlfriend. It's close enough. I have a girlfriend. Wow. Well, you know, part of the problem for American actresses that, you know, our language stems from the English. Anyway, that's why the English, everybody can do southern accents. It's no problem because this is part of the language that we grew up listening to. In any case. Go ahead. You're starring in this beautiful new film, "I still believe" which I have seen. We had your co-star Shania twain here. She talked about it, and you play Jeremy camp, a Christian music singer who married his first wife while she was gravely ill. It's based on a true story. What connected you to the film? It's a tough one. The story itself I think is so powerful. Yeah. It's a story about ultimately love. Two people who love each other so dearly and are willing to go through everything with each other no matter what that is, and what that looks like. I feel like that story as soon as I read that first script and I spoke to the Owen brothers about it, I was pretty terrified of the story because it was a huge responsibility to play a real life person and I wanted to get it right and honor everyone in the film, but I feel like god really anointed this film, you know, and I have never been so proud of anything in my entire life. Oh, that's wonderful. That's great. That's great. You sing in the film. Yes. You play the guitar in the film. Uh-huh. Have you always been musical? Singing for me is -- again, why I was kind of hesitant to play the character is because I'm not the most confident singer, but I feel confident with a guitar in my hand. Okay. That was another reason why I was, like, okay. This is going to be good for me. It's going to be hard and a challenge but good for me. Did you sing before this? Archie likes to think he can sing sometimes. He sings and writes songs. I don't know what made the Owen brothers think that I would be able to sing or play a singer, but hey. They made me do it. Yeah, and you did it well. Thank you. Thank you. Congratulations. That's you, Deborah. I just really enjoyed watching your career kind of, you know, sort of take off. It's really been sort of fun watching this. What has surprised you most? You're only what? 22? 22. 22. Playing someone in high school. Exactly. Exactly. What has surprised you most I guess as you've seen things What surprised me most is that I remember growing up and watching all the movies and stuff and thinking, wow. Like, Hollywood is this huge, big thing. It's almost out of reach to everyone, and then finding myself in this kind of world I've realized that it's no different to, like, life doesn't change when you become a big actor or whatever. It's -- you realize really that we're all just tiny little specks. That's right. You were in a dramatic high school too where you got a chance to do theater in high school. I didn't do any theater though. I never was interested in acting. Really? What were you interested in? I was interested in music and rugby and accounting. I see. That's great. That's quite a jump from accounting to be an actor. My school is very, like, hogwart's-y. There were different houses and you had to compete with your house. You had colors and you had to wear, like, five different uniforms. It was pretty trippy. Trippy. Luke Perry played your dad. Luke Perry was a friend of mine, and tell me what you remember about him. I -- I mean, I remember everything about Luke. I miss him, you know. I miss talking to him. I think most I -- he really -- he was so important to me just because I feel like he was -- he always had my best interest, and he always -- yeah. I just miss chatting to him. I miss listening to him. Everyone always has something wonderful to say about him. He's one of the best people I have ever known. Everyone that comes on this show, they talk about him. Everyone. I hope to be half the man he

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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