EXCLUSIVE: Riverdale star K.J. Apa has been set to play a lead role in The Hate U Give, the George Tillman Jr-directed drama for Fox 2000. In a move somewhat reminiscent of the All The Money In The World re-shoots that replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer, Fox 2000 has authorized a little over a week of re-shoots after the studio dropped Kian Lawley. Unlike the Getty kidnap drama, this film hasn’t yet been dated for release, but the film had pretty much wrapped.
The drastic move was necessitated after videos surfaced in which the YouTube star Lawley uttered several racist slurs. Though Lawley apologized, the slurs he used completely undermine a topical movie inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Lawley was quickly dropped as a client by CAA, and now he will be scrubbed from the picture.
Apa has darkened his trademark red tresses, and he just arrived on the Atlanta set of the film, where the rest of the cast will go back to work with him starting tomorrow.
The drama, an adaptation of the Angie Thomas novel, stars Amandla Stenberg as a teen prep school student who witnesses a police officer murder her best friend. Apa plays her boyfriend, one of the privileged white kids attending Williamson. He never concerned himself with the different skin color of the girlfriend he adores, and knows little about her life back home. Until she becomes the only witness in the police shooting, and becomes increasingly political as she grieves the death of her friend Khalil. It awakens him to how deeply race impacts their relationship. There are many scenes between the two leads, and others involving crowds and the rest of the cast.
Bob Teitel and Marty Bowen are producing. The film also stars Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, Common, Regina Hall, and Algee Smith.
The unexpected lead role comes just as Riverdale — the breakout hit show that launched Apa in the lead role of Archie – was just renewed for a third season.
Apa will shoot that film, and then he will star in The Last Summer, the Bill Bindley-directed drama about a group of high schoolers who spent a final summer together before college. That film is being made by Gulfstream Pictures, produced by Mike Karz, Bindley and Wayne Rice.
Apa is repped by UTA, Red11 Management, Luber Roklin Entertainment and attorney Karl Austen.