When we first tuned into Riverdale, we weren't sure how much we'd enjoy a show based on the old Archie comics we read as kids. But then KJ Apa took off his shirt in the premiere and we immediately echoed Kevin's reaction—"Archie got hot!" We love all the characters, drama and mystery Riverdale has to offer, but we aren't afraid to admit that we pray for another singing or shirtless KJ scene every week. When we aren't watching his show, we're scouring the web for his interviews or freaking out over his awesome Instagram pictures and videos. Our nonstop search for all things KJ has helped us uncover some pretty surprising facts about him, and they're making us crush on him harder than ever!
15 His name isn't really KJ Apa
KJ Apa is such a cool name. It's short and sweet, it rolls off the tongue and "Mrs. KJ Apa" looks great scribbled all over your school notebooks with hearts drawn around that dream title. Believe it or not, though... that's not his real name! His full name is actually Kenati James Fitzgerald Apa. Even though he uses the shorter version for show business and typically asks his friends to call him KJ, he's proud of his name because it was given to him by his father—a Samoan chief—and Kenati is an Indian name which means "surpassing all." His dad couldn't have chosen a more fitting name, because our favorite Riverdale star definitely surpasses all of our other celebrity crushes—none of them have abs or acting skills like KJ's!
14 He loves playing guitar as much as Archie does!
We all get super giddy every time Archie whips out his guitar and tries to pursue his music career. KJ looks absolutely studly with his guitar in hand, and his angelic voice only makes him more attractive to us fans. Most stars just pretend to play instruments on TV, but KJ is the real deal—he even recorded a solo guitar album when he was only 14 years old! During the casting process for Riverdale, he knew he needed an edge over his competition, so he brought his guitar to the audition and put on a little show for the directors. "I just took it to the screen test," he told Time Out. "I knew I had to lock it in somehow, so I took the gat and I just tried it out." According to the producers of the show, this move was what convinced them that they'd found their perfect Archie.
13 KJ was almost the Red Ranger
We all loved seeing KJ in A Dog's Purpose, where he played the younger version of Dennis Quaid's character. The only thing hotter than seeing our favorite celeb with a guitar is seeing him playing with a dog! Swoon. Well, we almost got a chance to see him in some tight red leather a few months later on the big screen, because he was nearly cast in the Power Rangers reboot film! KJ auditioned to be Jason, the Red Ranger, but ended up losing the role to Australian actor Dacre Montgomery. Funny enough, he met Ross Butler—who plays his onscreen nemesis Reggie on Riverdale—during the casting process for that movie. Fingers crossed the Power Rangers producers will realize their mistake and cast him as Tommy, the Green Ranger, in the sequel!
12 His American accent is totally fake
If you've only seen KJ on Riverdale, you probably think that he was a typical American high school jock growing up. You'd never guess that his acting schedule kept him from ever really having a high school experience that he could use as inspiration for his portrayal of Archie, or that he's not even from America! KJ actually grew up in Auckland, New Zealand with his parents and two older sisters, and while he's mastered his American accent, he frequently slips back into his old Kiwi accent if you watch his interviews (which you totally should, because that accent is dreamy). If all the young actors "down under" are as gorgeous and talented as KJ, they need to come here and bless our television screens ASAP!
11 He's not actually a redhead
On Riverdale, KJ looks like a real-life, hotter version of the Archie we knew in the comic books growing up. Believe it or not, though, he doesn't really look anything like his character in real life! It actually took about 10 hours to dye his dark brown hair the correct shade of Archie auburn the first time. In an interview with Moviefone, KJ revealed that after the initial dye job, he had to go to the salon every two weeks to get it dyed and bleached. He was really nervous that he wouldn't make for a good redhead at first, but he told Moviefone, "it made me really happy to see that it looked good." Looking like a total babe on the show didn't stop him from dyeing his hair back to brown the moment filming for the season wrapped, though!
10 He's got a lot in common with Archie, though
Even though KJ's red hair in Riverdale is totally fake, he actually is exactly like his beloved character in a number of huge ways! Just like Archie, KJ was torn between pursuing his passion for music and his love for sports in high school. He was actually on a half scholarship for music, but his father instilled a love for rugby in him from an early age, and he had a hard time deciding which hobby he'd put the most time into. Unfortunately, acting forced KJ to give up rugby, but he still gets to play guitar and work some music into his role on Riverdale. We'll never get tired of watching KJ strum his guitar or belt out a romantic tune on his show, but we definitely would enjoy seeing him get a little physical on the rugby field too!
9 KJ landed the role of Archie after a four-month global search
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa didn't take the difficult task of finding the perfect Archie lightly. According to Deadline, he arranged a grueling four-month global search to find the show's lead, and KJ caught his eye a mere three days before he was supposed to start testing potential Archies in front of the studio. KJ wasn't quite prepared for this first audition with casting director David Rapaport and didn't, but luckily, he blew all of the show's writers and producers away the second time he came in to read. "He was immediately Archie Andrews," said Aguirre-Sacasa. All that effort to find the right guy definitely paid off, because KJ is flawless and we seriously can't imagine any actor in the world doing a better job.
8 He ships Archie with Betty!
All of us Riverdale fans tune into the show for the nonstop drama and mystery, but we stay for the steamy romances. We're sailing on so many ships that it can be hard to choose just one—Archie and Veronica, Jughead and Betty, Archie and Jughead, you name it, we've shipped it—but KJ Apa has a favorite of his own. In an interview with Vulture, KJ revealed that he hopes his character will hook up with Betty soon! "I think, because of how famous the Betty and Archie thing is, I would love to see Betty and Archie get together. I think it’s so iconic and everyone kind of wants that. If there was any relationship that I would ship for, it would be Archie and Betty, which is kind of a classic, iconic relationship."
7 KJ hopes to make more films soon
We can all agree that Archie Andrews is the perfect role for KJ, and while he seems to have a great time with the part, his role in A Dog's Purpose made KJ eager to jump back into the world of film-making. "I was thinking to myself, even while I was doing that, "imagine if I can do this forever! Making movies is definitely something I want to become more experienced at doing," he told Vulture. He went on to say that he really wants to "get away from the high school jock" role he currently has on Riverdale, and hopefully try his hand with some action films. "I feel like I really want to be more physical. And I feel like action movies will give that to me."
6 He totally wants you to call him "Daddy" online
If you've spent some time on Instagram or Twitter, you've seen the phrase "Daddy AF" thrown around like crazy over the past year. Everyone seems to want to call their favorite celebrity "daddy," and some celebs are understandably pretty freaked out by the nickname. Not KJ, though—he totally wants his fans to start calling him that! "It started as a personal joke between Camila [Mendes] and I because all of the girls on the show are obsessed with older men, 'Daddies.' And I realized you can only be a 'Daddy' once you're like 26, have a beard and kinda rugged and I'm literally not that so I'm trying to earn it from the girls and gain that title since the new goal in life is to be called 'Daddy.'"
5 He got a tattoo to honor his family
When KJ was 17 years old, he got a matching tattoo with his sister and mother as a tribute to his family. "My dad's father was a high chief... and the family agreed my dad would take over his chief title: Tupa'i," he told the New Zealand Herald. "We decided to get a tattoo to commemorate that. The Samoan culture has always played a massive part of my life. I’ve got hundreds of family on my dad’s side that live in Samoa and in New Zealand. I’ve just been surrounded by the culture ever since I was a kid." KJ actually used to speak Samoan, but he unfortunately forgot the language over time. However, he still goes to visit his Samoan family at least once every year.
4 KJ seems to like hooking up with his teachers
We all know about Archie's steamy (and, let's be real totally inappropriate and illegal) relationship with his music teacher Miss Grundy in Riverdale, but that actually isn't the first time KJ has hooked up with one of his TV teachers! He got his start acting in a popular New Zealand soap opera called Shortland Street, where he portrayed Kane Jenkins, a rugby player who had a similarly scandalous affair with his gym teacher. We sort of have to wonder if this is just a crazy coincidence, or if he's being type-casted as the sort of athletic and irresistible teenager who would sleep around with an adult. We don't really blame his teachers because we wouldn't ever say no to KJ, but hopefully his future characters make better life decisions!
3 He's best friends with Cole Sprouse in real life
Everyone loves Archie and Jughead's friendship so much, the internet is filled with "Archhead" fan-fiction. Sure, those two boys are a bit too obsessed with Betty and Veronica to actually end up with each other on the show, but you just can't deny their chemistry. Well, that might be because KJ and Cole Sprouse are BFFs in real life, too! They're always hanging out and goofing off with each other, and KJ even credits Cole for helping him become a better Archie—Cole brought KJ to a comic shop he used to work at to show him just how much love people have for the Archie comics, and that experience helped inspire KJ to really do his research and put his all into the role.
2 KJ was a huge 'Suite Life' fan, just like us!
We all drool over KJ now, but when the cast for Riverdale was first announced, the name that made us want to tune in at first was Cole Sprouse. The Suite Life of Zach & Cody was one of our absolute favorite shows growing up, so we were excited for another chance to see our favorite former Disney star. Well, it turns out that KJ was a huge Suite Life fan, too! "I watched The Suite Life when I was a kid," he told E!. "When I met him I was like 'Aw bro, you're the man!'" When asked for his celebrity crush, KJ came up with the funniest answer ever—Dylan Sprouse, Cole's twin brother! Cole laughed, but we're sure Archhead shippers hope that he was low-key jealous of his brother in that moment.
1 KJ works hard for those drool-inducing abs and biceps
Do you remember the scene in Riverdale's first episode, where we first saw KJ take off his shirt from the vantage point of Betty's room? Or the scene where he was helping Miss Grundy with her car and lifted his white t-shirt just enough to give us another beautiful glimpse of his toned abs? Yeah, of course you do. Well, those muscles didn't just come from his genetics—KJ works really hard for that body! He posted his intense workout via a time lapse video on Instagram, and it apparently involves 10 minutes of nonstop burpees and dumbbell swings. It sounds super difficult, but he makes it look so easy! If we weren't so busy drooling over KJ, maybe we'd be inspired to actually try the workout out ourselves.