Riverdale star K.J. Apa is set to join the upcoming film The Hate U Give, replacing disgraced actor and Youtube personality Kian Lawley, who was cut from the project when a video of him using racial slurs surfaced online.
Best known for playing Archie Andrews in the popular CW series Riverdale, Apa will appear as Chris — the boyfriend of the central character, Starr — in reshoots for the movie, which is based on the acclaimed young adult novelThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Both the novel and film tell the story of a black teen who witnesses a police shooting of her childhood friend. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the tale explores racism and police brutality in the United States.
In February, Twentieth Century Fox cut Lawley from the movie — which had completed filming — after a video surfaced in which the YouTube star is seen using the N-word and spouting racial stereotypes.
“We’re all black, drinking purple Kool-Aid and eating Kentucky Fried motherf–king Chicken,” he says at one point in the footage.
He was also dropped by his talent agency, Creative Artists Agency.
Lawley apologized in a statement, saying he respected the studio’s decision to replace him — a rare move for a film at an advanced stage of production, but echoing the recent removal of Kevin Spacey from the completed drama All the Money in the World. Spacey’s replacement, celebrated Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, went on to win award season kudos for the role.
“Words have power and can do damage. I own mine and I am sorry,” Lawley said his statement.
“I respect Fox’s decision to recast this role for The Hate U Give as it is an important story, and it would not be appropriate for me to be involved considering the actions of my past.”
The Hate U Give stars Amandla Stenberg as the protagonist, Starr. The cast also includes Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae and Common.
A theatrical release date has yet to be announced.