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KJ Apa and Maia Mitchell Enjoy The Last Summer Interview

T.V. favorites for Riverdale and The Fosters play a romantic couple.

May 01, 2019

By: Lynn Barker

Check out Netflix starting May 3rd for The Last Summer a relatable movie about that summer right after high school ends. Do romantic relationships carry on, end or begin? What is next? College, trips overseas, a career? Aussie Actress/Singer/Songwriter Maia Mitchell, who played Callie Adams Foster on the TV series “The Fosters” and was in the “Teen Beach” TV musicals, plays Phoebe, a high school grad interested in filmmaking while KJ Apa, Archie Andrews on popular TV series “Riverdale”, plays Griffin, the fellow graduate she falls for.

The Last Summer Trailer

For the interview, KJ still sports his red hair for his role as Archie. He and Maia seem super comfortable with each other and easily reveal some personal feelings about being rejected romantically and experiencing anxiety. They give some great advice to tweens and teens. See if the actors talk about something you can relate to!

Q: Did the film have any resemblance to your own anxieties when graduating high school? You were both probably well into your careers at that point.

  • KJ: Yeah, I think definitely. Like Maia, I was working on a TV show while I was in high school so I had to make that choice of ‘Am I gonna stick it out or am I gonna leave high school and pursue the whole acting thing?’ so yeah, that was definitely an anxious moment to make that decision because it’s either one or the other.
  • Maia: Yeah, I can definitely relate. That time is so awkward anyway and there’s a lot of pressure, I think, on young people at that age, to know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re headed and it’s not necessarily a time in your life that’s conducive to knowing all that. Like KJ, I chose to leave high school and pursue some opportunities that came to me. I chose to stick with my gut and what I thought was right for me. I feel like that’s the message of the film as well.

Maia at the premiere of the filmMaia at the premiere of the film

Q: Do you have any memories of summers that just stand out for you?

  • KJ: I think, for me, it was always family. I usually spend a lot of my summers in Samoa. My dad’s side (of the family) is in Samoa. That’s what I reminisce upon.
  • Maia: Summer for me is the same thing. If it’s summer at home (Lismore, Australia), it’s Christmastime here which is always when we have a break from work so I’m always with my family in summer and that’s definitely what I picture summer as; just family and Christmastime and New Years and celebrating.

Maia and KJ on the movie's setMaia and KJ on the movie's setCourtesy of Netflix

Q: What do you think is the core ingredient for a successful romance or rom com?

  • KJ: I think the core ingredient has to be chemistry, right? I think when you are working on a rom/com, especially the romantic stuff, you have to be working with someone you can have that kind of chemistry with and I think we are really lucky. Maia’s really easy to work with and we immediately had a great chemistry together so….
  • Maia: Yeah, we did (she laughs).

Q: Where do you think your characters would be like two or three years later?

  • Maia: I’d like to think they kept in contact at least if they didn’t stay together.
  • KJ: Yeah. If they weren’t together at least they’d still be really good friends I think.
  • Maia: Yeah. Maybe just like get married later and have twenty children.
  • KJ: Down the line, down the line!

KJ as Archie on RiverdaleKJ as Archie on RiverdaleCourtesy of The CW

Q: So KJ, your character Griffin got rejected at first then you kept on going. Have you guys ever been rejected and what’s the best way to deal with it?

  • KJ: Yeah. I get ejected all the time (laughter). No. I’ve been rejected multiple times, a lot of times, actually. I really put myself out there a lot. I think I don’t feel scared if I see something that I’m attracted to and I would just go up and say ‘Hi’. I usually get rejected too often because I’m too young. That’s the thing for me. ‘Sorry, you’re too young for me’.
  • Maia: I’ve never really put myself out there unless I know that something’s being reciprocated so I usually play it safe but I haven’t seen single in a very long time so I don’t remember what that’s like (Note: She is with Rudy Mancuso, actor, internet personality and musician).

Maia on The FostersMaia on The FostersCourtesy of Freeform

Q: As actors too, you have to face rejection when you don’t get a part. Have you had that experience?  How do you cope with that?

  • Maia: Oh, I’ve had that experience.
  • KJ: Oh, many times. My process with going to an audition is I go then I forget about it as soon as I leave. If you don’t get cast for something you either don’t look right for it or they don’t want you for it for whatever reason.
  • Maia: You try not to take it personally. It’s like if I walk in there and I’m the right person for the job, I’ll get it and if I’m not, I won’t and that’s completely out of my control so you’ve just kind of got to let it happen the way it’s supposed to happen.
  • KJ: Yeah. Don’t bother stressing about something you have no control over.

KJ and MaiaKJ and Maia

Q: The movie shows that growing up isn’t always really easy and you have to struggle with stuff like falling in love for the first time, having trouble in school or with your parents. Do you have any advice on how to deal with it?

  • KJ: I didn’t really have a girlfriend then. I had my first girlfriend like a year ago so I was always really busy. I think that’s why too. I think I’ve been in love one time with one person. Everyone is different. I think you need to understand that everyone is different in order to accept.
  • Maia: I was doing my own thing. I was desperate to get out of school and desperate to stand out a little but I think the most important thing to take from this movie is that everyone is doing their own thing and is on their own journey and that’s okay. Just to be able to be strong in yourself and your own journey and identity.
  • KJ: It’s also important to have good role models I think. You’ve got to pick really strong people. In my opinion, on social media we have so many young people are looking at the wrong people as role models. It’s important to recognize and discern who is being positive and respectful. I hope I’m a good role model.
  • Maia: That’s the issue I have with this term ‘role model’. What really is that? I think for me, I realize I’m never going to please anyone so if I’m being authentic and being myself, then I’m being exactly what I wanted to look up to when I was a kid. I think that’s the key. I don’t think it’s about behaving well, or behaving a certain way, it’s about being authentic.

Maia and KJ with the movie castMaia and KJ with the movie cast

Q: What so-called role models do you look up to?

  • KJ: My father is my role model. I think he has a really strong faith in God which is something that I really respect. He works hard. His work ethic is really inspiring to me. I could go on forever. He’s my guy.
  • Maia: I have a lot of different role models. My mom is my role model but in terms of what I aspire to, I think actors that are managing to be successful but also really private like Carey Mulligan, Nicole Kidman, people like that who stay out of the spotlight and have their own lives. Cate Blanchett is so cool. She runs Sydney Theater Company out of Sydney and then is all over the world shooting as well and has a very private life. That’s kind of what I look up to.

Q: You two have great chemistry. Was there any “get to know you” workshop before the shoot?

  • Maia: We had a couple of days, maybe a week before. We had a little pre-production where we had to do fittings and some rehearsals with William (Director William Bindley) which was great so we were able to flesh out the dynamic on screen. When you are in another city (Cleveland, Ohio) too and you only know one person there….
  • KJ: We had no choice but to hang out.
  • Maia: There was this lounge in a hotel, we would hang out there.  They had free beer.
  • KJ: Free beers, free cookies, beef jerky, remember?
  • Maia: Yeah. Really it was just hanging out at the hotel and just going over the script and watching movies and stuff.

KJ as GriffinKJ as GriffinCourtesy of Netflix

Q: So many young people have problems with anxiety, depression and mental health issues. Have either of you experienced that or know anyone who has? If so, how do you help?

  • KJ: I personally haven’t but I have a few friends who go through anxiety and depression and stuff. For me, as a friend, it’s really important to listen especially if you can’t relate. Maybe I haven’t felt the same way but I think being a friend as listening is maybe the best thing you can do.
  • Maia: Yeah, I’ve definitely struggled with anxiety in the past. It comes and goes in waves. When I’m really stressed and have a lot going on with work, I go into meltdown mode (laughs). I go to therapy and deal with it but yeah, I think it’s just about surrounding yourself with people who make you feel normal and whole and, like KJ said, who will listen and then you try not to stress out too much.
  • KJ: Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments for sure.

Q: Social media can make you feel so vulnerable. How do you deal with reactions to your work or personal life on social media?

  • Maia: Yeah, social media gives me stress. I don’t spend much time on it. I log on to my public social media and post when I need to and log out of it and go on my smaller one that I have with just my friends. I have to compartmentalize it.
  • KJ: I don’t put a lot of effort into my social media, I think I just like to be myself. I think what I post is pretty much for my friends back in New Zealand. I want to make them laugh. I think authenticity is great. All of my favorite accounts I follow are people being authentic and being themselves.

Phoebe and Griffin at schoolPhoebe and Griffin at schoolCourtesy of Netflix

Q: My take on being from down-under (New Zealand and Australia) is that when you go home, you can’t be boastful or bigger than anyone else or they will put you down real fast.

  • Maia: You’ll get shot down.
  • KJ: We can be cocky in America and no one is gonna judge us for it. At home, it doesn’t matter if you’re cocky or not, you’re gonna get s**t either way.
  • Maia: Oh yeah. No matter what but it’s all in good fun.
  • KJ: Usually it’s just fun banter but a lot of the time I feel like some of the news outlets back home just have nothing better to talk about. That makes you wonder like ‘Really? There’s nothing more interesting going on?’ The answer is ‘No, there isn’t.’ (laughter)
  • Maia: You’re it.

Will Phoebe and Griffin last as a couple?Will Phoebe and Griffin last as a couple?Courtesy of Netflix

Q: What kinds of music are you listening to these days?

  • KJ: I’ve been listening to Apes of Soundgarden,  Chris Cornell, lots of Mother Love Bone which is the Pearl Jam band but their singer past away then along came Eddie Vedder and that’s how Pearl Jam was created.
  • Maia: I’ve been trying to listen to Pop music. It’s not going great. I’ll put on an Apple or Spotify playlist and just listen to what’s happening. Everything sounds the same.
  • KJ: I find it really hard to listen to automated sounds now. I feel like I’ve been stuck listening to live music, live instruments so when I go back to Pop and listen to all those automated sounds, it’s just not as interesting to me.
  • Maia: It’s really boring so I’m just going back to my ‘80’s music and call it a day. I like The Cure and The Smiths.

Will Griffin pursue his music?Will Griffin pursue his music?Courtesy of Netflix

Q: KJ, can you talk about your band?

  • KJ: I’m in a band called Legend. We’ve been playing together for about three months. All the boys are from Vancouver and we’re trying to finish an album this year. We play kind of plastic rock ‘n roll. Our goal is to get people listening to rock again because we all grew up on it. It’s been really fun to come together and create this kind of stuff.

Q: Do you have filmmaking aspirations like Phoebe?

  • Maia: Yes I do. I hope to start with TV then hopefully move to feature, directing.

Q: What was your favorite scene to shoot?

  • Maia: I reckon that day on the lake was the most fun with the jet skis and everything. That was fun and everyone was there as well and we got to hang out.
  • KJ: Yeah. Least favorite was probably the party scene. It was so hot in there.
  • Maia: It was probably a hundred degrees in that warehouse.

Phoebe (Maia) and Griffin (KJ) get romanticPhoebe (Maia) and Griffin (KJ) get romanticCourtesy of Netflix

Q: Did you have any summer jobs as a younger person.

  • KJ: No. I’ve only ever been acting. That’s the only job I’ve ever had.
  • Maia: I was a dish pig. That’s what they call them in Australia. That’s where you just wash the dishes. I did that for four years. My mom wouldn’t let me access my savings even though I was working as an actress. If I wanted any extra money I’d have to dish pig at my mom’s friend’s restaurant. I got really good at washing dishes. I was also an usher at a movie theater.

Stream The Last Summer on Netflix starting May 3rd.

Courtesy of Netflix
Express Your Feelings!

Do you already have plans for after you finish high school? Do you think you will still be with your besties or your boo or move on? Are you a fan of KJ or Maia? Everyone wants to hear from you. Write a comment here or on your Kidzworld profile page!