Actor and Manhattan native Charles Melton watched his alma mater, Kansas State, defeat NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl last month on TV.
Melton, who was born in Alaska but graduated from Manhattan High School in 2009, played for the Wildcats football team under coach Bill Snyder.
He was eager to see how his former team would end its successful season, but he found himself a bit distracted by the Pop-Tarts Bowl mascot, known as Strawberry.
“That Pop-Tart looked delicious — that edible mascot where you could pull a Pop-Tart off of them,” Melton, 33, told The Mercury during an interview earlier this week. “That looked pretty fun.”
Melton had his own fun Jan. 6 when he attended the 81st Golden Globe Awards. He was nominated for best supporting actor for his role in the drama “May December.” The film, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is loosely inspired by the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal in 1996. That situation involved a 34-year-old teacher from Seattle who was arrested for having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student.
In “May December,” Melton plays Joe Yoo, a fictional representation of the student, who is now an adult and married with children to his former teacher, Gracie (Julianne Moore). Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) also stars in the film. She plays an actress named Elizabeth, who is portraying Gracie in a movie, so decides to spend some time with her for research.
When Melton read the script, he was excited about working with Oscar winners like Moore and Portman and director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Todd Haynes (“Far from Heaven”). He was also intrigued about exploring such a complex character.
“There was something that I connected to, but I didn’t know what it was,” Melton said. “I had to reverse-engineer the layers of this person. That’s where the process and journey started. Clearly seeing the identity of this man and what he represented invigorated me.”
Melton, who starred as Reggie on the TV series “Riverdale,” wanted to do his best for his director and co-stars. To do that, he knew he had to be prepared when the cameras started rolling.
“There were nerves,” he said. “But it’d be pretty selfish of me not to be thinking about my character when I’m in those moments on set. I wanted to really exist in (those moments).”
Along with the Golden Globe nod for his performance in “May December,” Melton was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award and won a Gotham Award. Awards pundits are giving him an above-average chance to land an Academy Award nod when they are announced on Jan. 23. Melton describes hearing the Oscar buzz he is generating as a “mind-blowing” experience.
“It’s great to be seen and to be recognized,” he said. “My life is forever changed.”