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Charles Melton Compares Starring on ‘Riverdale’ to Studying at Juilliard: ‘I Learned So Much’

Charles Melton Compares Riverdale to Studying at Juilliard Helped Me Redefine This Work Ethic
Charles MeltonEmma McIntyre/Getty Images

Charles Melton’s star is on the rise, but he’ll always love Riverdale for giving him his big break.

Melton, 32, discussed how his career has changed since playing Reggie Mantle on the CW series. “Obviously it frees up more time for projects like May December, but I learned so much being there,” he told I-D on Tuesday, December 19. “I formed relationships that I will have until the end of my days.”

The actor, who starred on Riverdale from 2017 to 2023, credited the show with teaching him skills that he can apply to other jobs.

“It really helped me refine this work ethic. Riverdale truly was my Juilliard — I was learning and growing and playing and taking risks. I was allowed to do that,” he gushed. “It’s bittersweet. But I’m so happy it brought joy to so many people.”

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Melton is excited to continue growing his craft, but he has no plans to explore method acting, adding, “The idea of causing suffering and pain to others around you, in order to tell your story for the character. That is not my cup of chamomile tea.”

Charles Melton Compares Riverdale to Studying at Juilliard Helped Me Redefine This Work Ethic
Charles Melton as Reggie Mantle in “Riverdale.” Kailey Schwerman/The CW

Before his critically acclaimed performance in May December, Melton captivated audiences when he took over for Ross Butler as Reggie on Riverdale. The teen drama, which was based on the iconic Archie Comics, explored a wide variety of over-the-top story lines including cults, killer board games and time travel.

Melton, for his part, became a breakout star as Reggie sold the town’s hottest designer drug, jingle jangle, and started his own tickle fetish ring.

After Riverdale came to an end earlier this year, Melton starred as Joe in Netflix’s May December alongside Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. He had to put in the work before director Todd Haynes cast him in the project.

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“I’m so grateful Charles Melton came into our consciousness. I didn’t know him from Riverdale. His looks were almost a deterrent,” Haynes told Vulture in September about Melton gaining 40 pounds for the role. “I felt that Joe would be a good-looking man, but Charles has that sort of hunkiness and pin-up quality that wasn’t necessarily how I pictured him.”

Charles Melton Compares Riverdale to Studying at Juilliard Helped Me Redefine This Work Ethic
Charles Melton as Reggie Mantle in “Riverdale.” The CW

The director praised Melton for his commitment, adding, “[He did it] to change his chiseled self into something more familiar. A suburban man in this place. There’s such remarkable physicality in the choices he made as an actor. A friend of mine saw a cut of it and he said, ‘Charles moves like a child and an old man, a combination of the two’ — which makes so much sense given his predicament.”

Melton is not the only former Riverdale star who has said that the show shaped their career. Earlier this year, Madelaine Petsch discussed how Riverdale taught her some valuable lessons.

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“The thing that Riverdale did that was really wonderful was [how] we would get scripts morning of — sometimes we would get new rewrites for a scene we were about to shoot in that moment. You really were in an environment where you had to work and think on your feet,” Petsch, 29, exclusively told Us Weekly in July. “Like, you never really got to just settle in and I think that that is a really great boot camp for an actor who wants to continue acting.”

Lili Reinhart also weighed in on Riverdale’s legacy, telling Vulture in August, “We can all be happy that we had a f—king consistent job for seven years. I could speak for probably all of us: We will never again do something that’s 100-plus episodes.”

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