Charles Melton is an actor best known for his portrayal of Reggie Mantle on “Riverdale.” He recently caught up with Heavy to discuss his work, upbringing and his new Safe Driving Campaign with USAA.
His other roles include “Bad Boys for Life,” “The Sun Is Also a Star” and “American Horror Story.”
Here’s what Melton had to say:
On Attending the Met Gala
The Met Gala is the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and kicks off its newest exhibit. While the 2020 benefit was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, it returned in style on September 13, 2021, with the theme American Independence.
The 30-year-old told Heavy that he “really enjoyed” himself. “It was great to be around people,” he explained. “And meet new people and I really had a fantastic time.”
On Upcoming Projects
Melton remained coy on what comes next in his burgeoning career, but did tease, “I’ve got a few things in the works that I would love to talk about but I won’t.”
One project he can discuss is his upcoming film, “Swing.” In August, Deadline reported Vertical Entertainment picked up the film’s North American distribution rights. It is expected to be released this fall. According to the outlet, the film stars Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon as a former Army officer who takes over coaching for an Ivy League rowing team.
“It was great working with Michael Shannon and he’s such a brilliant artist,” the actor told Heavy. “And it was awesome to work with one of my best friends who I did ‘Bad Boys for Life’ with, Alexander Ludwig.”
Alex MacNicoll, Ash Santos, Lilly Krug and David James Elliot round out the cast.
On Joining the ‘Riverdale’ Cast in Support of Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Father
On September 8, Melton joined forces with the “Riverdale” cast and crew to voice their support for Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa, the father of the show’s creator Roberto.
“Nearly two months ago, his father was kidnapped in his home country of Nicaragua,” the cast explained in an Instagram video. “Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa has been a tireless crusader for democracy and human rights and because of this, in the middle of the night, his home was invaded by armed guards acting on the orders of the country’s dictator. Roberto’s father and a dozen other activists were kidnapped and arrested. No one knows where they’re being held and if they are being given food, water or medicine which is why we’re asking for your help today. Please make your voices heard, because the fans are a part of our family too.”
Roberto broke down the events in an article for Time on September 21, revealing his family has since learned his father is being held indefinitely at the “notorious prison” El Chipote for charges of treason and conspiracy. According to the showrunner, the 77-year-old is a journalist and political pundit who spoke out against President Daniel Ortego and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in favor of democracy in Nicaragua.
On why he chose to speak out, Melton told Heavy, “I think, you know, we’re a family. And, you know, just being together for one another is powerful and just showing our support, I think it was a very powerful thing that we can do for each other, for a loved one such as Roberto.”
On Being an Army Brat
Melton grew up on military bases around the world, with his father serving in the United States Army for “26 plus years.” As he told Heavy, his favorite locations were Korea and Germany.
“In Germany, we were stationed in Illesheim,” he explained. “And I remember school in Ansbach military base and then, you know, every weekend, you know, the bases are all different sizes and Illesheim was the smallest military base in Germany. So, we would drive to, you know, the military base in Bitburg to go shopping at the BX or PX because it was so big.”
He added, “It’s so funny. I feel like I’m speaking code, but it’s so natural. I don’t think anyone knows what a BX or PX is outside of military circles.”
BX stands for Base Exchange, while a PX is a Post Exchange. These are retail stores on military bases. Restaurants and gas stations on base were also different.
“I only knew 7-Eleven because like movies. I never knew what a 7-Eleven was, it was always AAFES,” Melton told Heavy. He added, “It was never Pizza Hut, it was Anthony’s Pizza. The cheeseburger pizza was my favorite.”
The military brat added, “You can only imagine how blown away I was when I came to the United States.”
On Partnering With USAA for its Safe Driving Campaign
Melton spoke with Heavy in support of his partnership with USAA for its Safe Driving Campaign, a partnership he was “pretty jazzed about” as a “USAA lifetime member.”
“Just being an Army Brat and traveling all over the world and my dad’s a huge fan of long road trips, so I connected so much to the Safe Driving Campaign that USAA has,” Melton said.
Explaining the campaign, USAA wrote in a statement to Heavy, “With more people getting back into traveling, vacationing, and spending time with their families, the roads are filling back up. And although this is an enjoyable time, it’s also a time where everyone should give extra attention to the roads and engage in safe driving.”
On Road Trips
His father’s affinity for road trips has made Melton a near-expert in travel. The CW actor explained to Heavy that while growing up, he, along with his two sisters and dog, would pack up in the family vehicle that “my dad always drove, my mom was the co-pilot.”
“I remember when I was 18 years old my dad drove, we went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida and I think we had about a day and a half or two days to get there so we drove from Kansas and my Dad mapped everything out with my mom,” Melton recounted. “These were the pitstops, we were going to stop every four hours for fresh air. He was going to take a 20-minute power nap if he could. We were going to see different sights, enjoy the views, make sure we were eating and, like, my Dad’s not a big texter so that was pretty great because he was never on his phone at all driving and obviously wearing our seatbelts, have a great soundtrack, music to listen to. We had CDs then – no MP3 players or Spotify. But you know, just kind of seeing how my dad did it, road trips, influenced the way I did my travel.”
And travel has been a large part of his life as an actor, with “Riverdale” filming in Canada. “I love the drive,” Melton said. “I’m definitely someone who drives versus someone who flies.”
While he can be regimented in his approach, he also added, “I think it’s not rushing it, enjoying the sights along the way is the best way to go about driving and safe driving.” The actor referenced a pitstop he made during a recent trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver thanks to an encounter with a man named Chuck. He told Melton, “You need to go to the sand dunes in Oregon.”
His companion on these trips is often his dog, Neya. “During the pandemic and post-pandemic, I drove probably about 10,000 plus miles with Neya,” he explained. “And you know, I really had to map where I was going to go, what sights we were going to see, how often I should be sleeping, checking in with people on the road trip, just experiencing the views, no texting while driving, no social media while driving.”
Melton added, “I think all that is just a testament to what my father did growing up and just seeing how he operated driving.”
Referencing the Safe Driving Campaign, Melton told Heavy, “I think especially now people are taking advantage of driving and, you know, seeing, like, the land and seeing America – the Grand Canyon, Sion National Park, Yellowstone Park.”
He referred to driving as “growing, so rooting,” but acknowledged the “many different distractions” available these days.
“Do it safely, like wearing your seatbelt,” Melton explained. He added, “Have a tracklist ready to go, you know. Have your snacks ready to go. Have a great playlist ready to go. Roll down the window, pull over at the rest area, you know, to stop.”
Melton can be seen in the “Riverdale” finale on October 6, airing on the CW at 8 p.m. Eastern.
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