Charles Melton fell in love with movies somewhere between South Korea and Kansas. "I grew up a military kid going from base to base," says the actor, who was born in Juneau, Alaska but spent time everywhere from Texas to Ansbach, Germany, before his family finally settled in Manhattan, Kansas. "I grew up going to Blockbusters with my dad. We still go to the movies every week, actually. And I always had this sense of wanting to be on that screen and be a part of that world, and maybe giving someone the feeling that I feel right now."
A local talent showcase led Melton into acting, where he discovered an unforeseen benefit of his nomadic youth. "Being a military kid, always having to adapt and assimilate," he says, "and not so much just change my identity but go with the flow of different cultures while evolving — I look on my life and I can say, Oh, this maybe informed why I wanted to do what I wanted to do."
Until now, Melton was best known for playing bad boy Reggie Mantle for six seasons on CW's teen soap, Riverdale. He transformed himself — and his career — with a turn in Todd Haynes' May December, in which he stars opposite Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman. He and Moore play a married couple whose taboo relationship ignited a '90s-era tabloid scandal.
"I watched it in the theater for the first time with a few friends and my sister and dad," Melton shares, providing something of a full-circle moment for the father and son. "I don't see my dad get choked up too often, but this movie definitely pulled the heartstrings."
Below, Melton shares with A.frame his Top 5. "There's just something about being in a dark space and watching a movie," he says, "that is one of my favorite things to do in the world."
Written and Directed by: Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski
I love The Matrix. When I was in fifth grade, I used to watch The Matrix every day after school. This whole idea of being the one, and going beyond the perception of the mind and being able to believe something into happening in this different reality, that just blew my mind and really excited me. And it's still a masterpiece. I watched it a few months ago and was completely floored by it.
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg | Written by: Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm
It's so incredible. I've seen that movie six times, and it's still one of my favorites of recent years. It's trying to find a solution within a problem and trying to make the problem the solution, and it just goes so deep on so many levels. Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors, and what Thomas, the director, does, and with Mads and all the other actors do, it's so vast and expansive. And when he's dancing at the end? It's such a good movie.
Written and Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai. Tony Leung. Oh my gosh, it's so beautiful. I feel so warm every time I watch it, and I always find myself peeking [around] as I'm looking at the screen. Like, I'm this fly on this wall, and I'm peeking beyond the screen. There's just so much being expressed with little being said. It's all in the pathos and the eyes. The slow motion when he's walking past her. It's so beautiful.
That was one of those movies where I was like, 'What?!' I had to see it again. Like, 'I don't understand what I'm thinking or feeling quite yet, so let me watch it again.' I watched it three times in three weeks.
Written and Directed by: Todd Haynes
My introduction to Todd Haynes was I'm Not There, and then I saw Carol, then Dark Waters, and then I saw Velvet Goldmine, which I've seen six times. I really love that. But Safe, with Julianne [Moore], my gosh, that film was so ahead of its time. It's still so ahead of its time.
Todd just sits in these shots, and the discomfort that you're feeling for Julie, in a sense, you become Julie's character. As the audience member watching, you feel all these things. To me, that is incredible and so beautiful. It's hard to navigate my feelings in talking about this, because I just did a movie with Julie, and she's such an icon, and I love Safe and I saw it before I knew I was going to be working with Todd. So, that's another favorite of mine.
Written and Directed by: Brian Helgeland
There's a lot of different actors that I look at, not so much to emulate but, just be inspired by the places that they go. I think of Lee Jung-jae, Tony Leung, Joaquin Phoenix, Heath Ledger — there are a lot of influences. And A Knight's Tale is such an incredible movie.
The contemporary rock and roll soundtrack with the Medieval times, I really love that. Heath's character is all about changing his stars. So, Ulrich von Liechtenstein but his name's William, and it's this journey in pursuit of being a knight. Then you have Paul Bettany, who's incredible, and so Shakespearean. They're giving these amazing performances. A Knight's Tale is the best. You feel so good watching it.