Early this morning, Riverdale actor K.J. Apa got into a minor car accident while driving home from set. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Apa, who plays Archie in the CW series, was driving home alone after a 16-hour day of shooting when he fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a light pole. He sustained no injuries, but the passenger side of the car he was driving suffered heavy damage due to the impact. While unnamed sources tell Deadline that “standard industry options made available to on-location cast and crew include that anyone can request a hotel room, a taxi or a driver if they are feeling tired after a long day,” they added that Apa did not request transportation or tell anyone he was tired. Deadline is also reporting that a call is scheduled between WBTV and representatives for key Riverdale cast members to address safety concerns going forward. In the meantime, production of the series has resumed.
WBTV has not confirmed that call, and as THR reports, the company’s policy is that actors are responsible for their own commuting transportation. THR also confirms the Deadline report that actors can bill the studio if they decide it is unsafe to drive and they need a different hotel room or a car service. Apa was alone in the car at the time of the accident, but according to THR, his castmate Cole Sprouse had initially planned to ride with him, before changing his mind. Sprouse is a veteran presence among his young cohort on Riverdale, and has also apparently requested that the cast members working late hours be provided with drivers.
This year has been an extremely dangerous one on sets across North America. Stuntman John Bernecker died in July on the Georgia set of The Walking Dead after falling more than 20 feet from a balcony during rehearsal. Then in August, professional motorcycle racer and stuntwoman S.J. Harris was killed in a crash on the set of Deadpool 2, which, like Riverdale, was also filmed in Vancouver. (Georgia and Vancouver have become extremely popular filming locations during this boom era for TV, which has also resulted in production support staff being stretched far too thin, particularly in that southern state: “In Georgia, the demand for personnel is so high producers can’t afford to give crew members a single day off. If they do, they might lose them forever to the competition.”)
An unnamed source connected to Riverdale told THR, “They’re working these kids from morning until night … Someone’s going to die.” The second season premieres on October 11, and its episode order was almost doubled from 13 to 22, which means a lot more shooting hours and a lot more day-to-night schedules. The need for Peak TV to catch up to Peak Safety Demands is getting ever-more urgent.
Update: Warner Bros. Television has issued at statement to The Hollywood Reporter in response to this morning’s accident.
“First and foremost, we are extremely grateful that KJ Apa was uninjured during his recent accident. Secondarily, we want to specifically address the characterization that conditions on the set of Riverdale are of concern. We have a large cast of series regulars, and our actors do not work every day. On the day of the accident, KJ worked 14.2 hours. The previous day he worked 2.5 hours, and the day before that he worked 7.7 hours. KJ has repeatedly been informed about making production aware if he is tired or feels unsafe, and if so, either a ride or hotel room will be provided for him. The accident occurred last Thursday. Additionally, it is untrue that KJ was taken to the hospital. He was treated by first responders on the scene and released by them. We also sent a doctor to his home later that same day for a follow-up to confirm his well-being.
The safety of the cast and crew on all of our productions is of paramount importance to the Studio. Productions adhere to the Screen Actors Guild–mandated turnaround time of 12 hours from wrap time to next day call time for cast members. In accordance with industry standard policy, if any cast or crew member feels tired or unsafe at any time after working, the Studio will provide a taxi, a driver or a hotel room upon request. This is communicated to all cast and crew, both in writing and verbally, at the beginning of production and is reiterated continuously throughout the duration of production.”
Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA has said they will send representatives to investigate the incident with Apa, and the organization has released its own comment on the matter. “This is an extremely troubling situation and we are deeply concerned about the safety of performers on the Riverdale set,” said a statement from the group. “We are sending a team to Vancouver to review the circumstances surrounding safety issues affecting performers on this production.”