'Riverdale' Star Charles Melton Reveals He Gained 40 Pounds for 'May December' Role (Exclusive)

The 32-year-old 'Riverdale' actor opens up to ET about what he ate to gain the weight for his role.

Charles Melton opens up about his transformative journey for director Todd Haynes' upcoming film, May December.

The Riverdale actor, who stars alongside Academy Award-winning actresses Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, spoke to ET's Nischelle Turner at Netflix's Los Angeles premiere of the film about the surreal experience of working with such esteemed talents as well as the weight he gained for his role. 

Melton expressed, "Yeah, it was really nervewracking and very surreal. And it's kind of crazy to me that, you know, I’m here. I have to pinch myself because I’m with Julie and Natalie and Todd. But, you know, they just really elevated the whole set and just what I did, and from the get-go, I just learned so much from them."

May December, which premiered in May at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, is about actress Elizabeth Berry (Portman) who travels to Maine to spend time with Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Moore), who made tabloid headlines for her relationship with a young teen. 

The film follows Gracie, who has since married and had kids with the now-grown student, Joe Yoo (Melton), having given birth to one of their children while she was imprisoned for her crimes against the then-minor.

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The film is reminiscent of the real-life scandal between Mary Kay Letourneau and her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. In 1997, Letourneau was convicted of second-degree child rape for her relationship with her then-sixth-grade student, Fualaau. She was pregnant with her and Fualaau's first child at the time of her arrest. Letourneau and Fualaau eventually married and had another child before divorcing in 2020. Letourneau died on July 6, 2020. She was 58.

What's caught the attention of many is Melton's physical transformation for the role. The 32-year-old actor shared that he gained a whopping 40 pounds to authentically portray his character, Joe, in the film. 


When asked about the decision, Melton revealed, "It was more of a collective discussion with Todd and I. We talked about what Joe would feel like, not so much as look like. Looking at the facts of him being this suburban father with three kids and being a loving husband. He doesn't really have too much time to spend on himself."

Melton lightened the mood by detailing his unconventional method for putting on the weight, saying, "I just ate a bunch of Five Guys and pizza and ice cream and Capri Suns and Gushers. I can keep on going. And I really enjoyed myself."

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Portman and Moore also spoke to ET about how the Letourneau-Fualaau story played a role in the film and their parts in the movie. 

"Samy Burch [the writer] used it as an inspiration, this is not a story about those people. But it certainly was a jumping-off point," 62-year-old Moore explained.

"It was very much an inspiration, it's not meant to be a depiction of them," 42-year-old Portman echoed. 

"For me, it was interesting watching some of the documentary footage and reading about the case... there are certainly things that I drew from her [Letourneau], but the script itself was so strong and the character of Gracie was so finely drawn," Moore added.

"I think that Samy Burch, who wrote the script, her decision to start it 20 years after the tabloid events was an amazing decision," Portman shared. "It allows you to see what happens after, and what happens to their lives and the stories they tell and what's true and what's not." 

The Thor: Love and Thunder actress added that the film also examines the impact that being at the center of a major tabloid story has on a person's life and how the telling of the story "changes your life." 

May December hits select theaters on Nov. 17 and Netflix on Dec. 1.