Danish films for children and teens have many fine qualities, but rarely do they hatch adult actors with obvious star quality. Cyron Melville, 24, is the exception. Debuting at the tender age of ten, he went on to act in a number of the top recent Danish teen films. This year, he can be seen in his first starring role, in Morten Giese’s intense "Daniel".
Cyron Bjørn Melville has a face that was made for the camera. Maybe it’s the contrasts: a burst of red hair over gorgeous eyes and the jaw-line of a classic screen hero. Moreover, he has a physical presence on screen that few people his age can muster. When he’s in the frame you notice him, even when he’s not front and centre.
Melville, who is half Danish, half Scottish – his father, Johnny Melville, is a comic and actor – made his debut in 1995, in Carsten Rudolf’s awardwinning "The Beast Within". His portrayal of an emotionally traumatised boy trapped between an unfaithful mother and a cowed father ranks among the most extreme child performances in Danish cinema. Melville, at ten, plays the difficult leading part with conviction and strength, veering from joyful to sullen with an unschooled immediacy and presence that is the hallmark of the best child actors.
Later that year, he acted in a 24-part Christmas TV series, the last of his parts as a child actor. When next we see him on-screen, he is a teenager. His supporting role in Aage Rais-Nordentoft’s "Kick’n Rush" (2003) coincides with a new flowering in Danish teen films. Over the next few years, he stands out in a string of important new films in the genre. Christina Rosendahl casts him in her short film "Fucking 14" and her first feature, "Triple Dare" (2006). Christian E. Christiansen’s "Life Hits" (2006) has Melville playing the female lead’s love interest, who ends up the blameless victim of a drug overdose.
Most recently, Natasha Arthy’s teenagemelodrama "Fighter" (2008) allows Melville to shine in his most prominent supporting role to date. His performance as Emil – a Danish teenager who falls in love with a girl from a Muslim home – makes it clear we’re watching a young actor with all the makings of a star. Acing both the physically demanding fight scenes and the subtlest shadings of his character’s personality, the performance landed Melville a nomination for a Bodil, the top Danish film award.
Premiering in 2009, Morten Giese’s first feature "Daniel" has Melville breaking new ground in his first leading role playing a young conservatory student, Daniel, who has inherited not only his father’s great talent but also, it seems, his fragile mind. Unblinkingly peering into the darkest recesses of his character’s mind, Melville crafts his portrayal of Daniel with disturbing, heart-breaking intensity. His appearance is toned down – his red mop cut and tamed – in a role that’s brutally demanding, both physically and mentally, and has all the appearances of a huge breakthrough for the young Danish actor.