KJ Apa recalls some of his favorite memories working with Luke Perry before his death

By Jodi Guglielmi
April 27, 2019 11:30 AM

Luke Perry may have played KJ Apa‘s father on Riverdale, but it was their off-screen bond that was as tight as family.

Apa, 21, opened up about Perry’s tragic death during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Friday, reminiscing on their close relationship.

“It’s not every day you come across a guy like Luke,” he said. “Luke is the kind of person who did everything he can to make whoever you are, no matter how big or small you are, feel comfortable and feel welcome. It’s hard to kind of put into words how that makes me feel.”

Perry starred as Archie’s (Apa) dad Fred Andrews on the hit CW series.

RELATED: Luke Perry ‘Never Changed’ After Fame, Hometown Friends Recall: ‘We Loved Him’

Luke Perry and KJ Apa in Riverdale
Dean Buscher /The CW

Apa said the late actor treated him like a son while on set, making sure he always felt safe, comfortable and loved.

“He would call my parents every week and keep them updated on how I’m doing,” said Apa. “If I had a cold or something he’d be like, ‘I got him, I brought some Gatorade to his apartment the other day.’ “

“He made such a huge effort from the very beginning,” Apa continued. “I wish I could be like that.”

RELATED: Riverdale Airs Bittersweet Final Episode That Luke Perry Filmed — Nearly 2 Months After His Death

Perry was hospitalized after suffering a massive stroke on Feb. 27. The Beverly Hills, 90210 actor died five days later, on March 4. A source told PEOPLE he never regained consciousness. He was 52.

According to a copy of his death certificate obtained by PEOPLE, Perry was buried in Dickson, Tennessee, one week after his death. The actor was a part-time resident of Tennessee and had owned a farm there since 1995.

After news broke of Perry’s untimely death, Apa posted a touching to tribute to Instagram. He shared a photo of Perry smiling while riding on a boat with the caption, “Rest in love bro.”

“That’s my favorite photo of Luke,” Apa told Fallon. “I just think he’s in complete and utter peace in that photo. He’s living the dream.”

On Wednesday’s episode of Riverdale, Perry appeared in the final scene that he filmed for the series ahead of his death. In his final moments on the show, Perry’s character comforted his son Archie after he was accused of committing a crime.

It’s not clear how Fred’s storyline will end, but Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed on Sunday that this week’s episode was the last one that the actor filmed.

RELATED: Inside Luke Perry’s Private Life: From Beverly Hills, 90210 Heartthrob to ‘Hands-on’ Father

Luke Perry and KJ Apa in Riverdale
Diyah Pera/The CW

“This week’s #Riverdale is the last episode Luke filmed,” he tweeted alongside a photo of Perry as Archie’s dad. “As always, Fred’s imparting words of wisdom to Archie. A beautiful, true moment between a father and his son.”

“Wish these scenes could go on forever…” he added.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘Riverdale’ Airs Bittersweet Final Episode That Luke Perry Filmed — Nearly 2 Months After His Death

Aguirre-Sacasa admitted in March that the cast and crew were still struggling to come to terms with Perry’s death.

“You know, honestly, we are I think all still in shock and are all still processing and grieving,” he said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “We know that we have to address it in some way, but we’re giving ourselves a little bit of time and space before we figure out the best way to honor him.”

Riverdale airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on The CW.

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