'Riverdale': KJ Apa Talks Season 5, Kissing Safely on Set and Archie's Excessive Shirtless Scenes

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Riverdale is back -- but Archie's shirt is still missing!

The fourth season of the hit CW drama came to an early end last May due to a coronavirus-related production shutdown in March 2020. For the past eight months, fans have been wondering what’s next for Betty, Jughead, Archie, Veronica and the rest of our gang after the big senior prom episode, which will now serve as Wednesday's season 5 premiere.

To give you a glimpse of what's ahead, ET is bringing you new insights and information from Riverdale star KJ Apa as well as an exclusive sneak peek of Archie's next boxing battle with Katy Keenecharacter K.O. Kelly.

"It's been great," Apa said of vibe on set for season 5. "It's been hard for more reasons than one because of COVID and stuff, but for the most part I'm just happy to be back at work."

And going back to work as Archie Andrews means that Apa is always ready to throw down with his shirt off. In the first episode back, Archie and K.O. are competing against each other for a chance to attend the Naval Academy, but as you can see from our first look clip above, these fellas are having some fun in a friendly competition.

Riverdale KJ Apa
The CW

"It was great!" Apa said when asked about filming the fighting montage. "Zane Holtz, who plays K.O. Kelly, is a great dude and the fight itself was a lot of fun too. There were a lot of rehearsals for that."

"I mean, for me it's just another day at the office with my shirt off and training," the 23-year old added. "You know, we've done a lot of these scenes and yeah, I feel like the fight is going to come out really well." 

Every time ET catches up with Apa, we always like to check in with him and see how he's really feeling about filming all those shirtless scenes -- and this interview was no exception. 

"I mean, look for sure it can be a little tiring just because it's so demanding to stay in shape for 10 months long, you know? It gets hard, but it's my job. That's just how I think of it," Apa explained. "I don't dislike [the shirtless scenes] and I don't necessarily welcome them, but I know it's my job, so I've got to get it done."

"Someone has got to be shirtless on the show," Apa added with a laugh.

(FYI, when Apa doesn't have to be shirtless on-set, he does have a favorite cheat meal. "I love ramen! Ramen is my fave," he said.)

Even though Archie being shirtless is just the norm on Riverdale, there have been a lot of behind-the-scenes shake-ups on the set of season 5. In addition to regular COVID-19 testing, one of the most interesting (and adorable!) safety precautions that has been implemented is having the stars rinse their mouths out before any on-screen smooching can take place. 

Last September, Apa took to Instagram to share a video that shows how he and his onscreen girlfriend, played by Camila Mendes, prepare to make out on camera amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the clip, Apa and Mendes lock arms as they down cups of what appears to be mouthwash prior to their intimate scene. The actors go on to swirl the liquid around for a minute.

"It's been crazy. I mean, everyone has good breath now whenever you're doing a makeout scene, which is nice," Apa admitted with a laugh. "You can always count on good breath, but honestly that's just one of the things that we have to do to just act safely on set. The precautions they're taking are extreme, but I feel like they're necessary to keep shooting without any more shutdowns."

It's been a trying year for everyone, but Apa has been doing his best to find little moments of happiness while living in Vancouver, Canada, during Riverdale's strict production season. 

"I've been working out a lot and I'm just trying to stay sane during the quarantine," the New Zealand native revealed. "I've been listening to a lot of music and reading a lot of scripts and trying to stay one step ahead as much as I can while I'm over here for the second half of the season."

For more inside information from Apa on what's to come on Riverdale -- including what's next for both Varchie and Barchie! -- check back to ETonline immediately after watching the season 5 premiere.

Season 5 of Riverdale premieres Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

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