The Drama and Discomfort: Charles Melton on May December | Interviews

RogerEbert.com hopped in a call with Melton the afternoon following his Best Supporting Actor Gotham Awards win and discussed his process in crafting Joe, how he used his army brat background for his performance and collaborating with Todd Haynes.

Were there any challenges in playing an older character such as Joe?

Yeah, I think there are a few challenges, but I mean, Sammy’s script provided such an opportunity to explore Joe. She just laid out this beautiful roadmap. There was so much in between the text, and it really allowed me to just dive into who this man was as far as a father at such a young age with so much responsibility being a provider for his family, being a loving husband, and just really understanding all those responsibilities he had at such a young age. And the arrested development and how that would just translate and transform into his physicality and how he moved, walked, and talked in life.

When it came to reading the screenplay, what was your first reaction to who Joe was and trying to build him from the page?

I really felt this intuitive, this innate connection with Joe. There’s this sense of oppression and loneliness that I was really attracted to. I think as an actor, we come to a character without any sort of judgment or opinions and empathy, but we also have to investigate our own experience, and find parallels of feelings that could be. Though the circumstances are different, the feeling is the same. It made me think about my father. My dad was in the Army for 20 years, and I grew up an army brat. I remember at the age of 11, my dad sat me down and gave me this whole inspirational speech, and my dad’s my hero. He talked about just being a big brother, taking care of my mom, my two younger sisters, and responsibility and honor, integrity. It was very inspiring, and he told me this the night before he went away to serve in Desert Storm for a year while we were stationed in Germany. So that’s much responsibility for a kid at a young age, and you’re so excited to step up to the plate and take on that responsibility. The feeling kind of gave me more of an insight into Joe. Because Joe, at 13, was a father.

And beyond just a kind of public perception and everyone probing into his life, he still had to come back home to his kid at the end of the day. And so that just, I believe, diving into the minutiae of who this man was and how he created this adaptive adult child to survive and move in life was really exciting for me.

Were there any difficulties in taking the responsibility of setting this tone in between all the campiness that is within the film?

What’s interesting, Rendy, is that it didn’t. For those 23 days of filming in Savannah, Georgia, there was nothing that felt campiness. It was very dramatic stuff. And I think this is a matter of just having Todd Haynes being the director and leading the ship and just putting the trust in his hands. At the end of the day, we’re telling these character stories, and there’s so much gratitude, and it’s amazing to see the audience. Todd presents this table of all these different foods, and you’re the audience member, and he’s not telling you what to eat, and you can pick and choose what you want to eat, so to speak, metaphorically speaking. And so it wasn’t like, “Hey, we’re going to play these for laughs.” No, it was never like that. It was just some heavy, heartbreaking stuff.

Sumber: www.rogerebert.com

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