By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Christopher Mele is a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, but he’s been a professional actor for only a few years.
Nevertheless, the Canfield resident has a small role in “Draft Day,” which opens Friday. The movie centers on the Browns during the NFL draft.
“Draft Day” was shot in Cleveland and follows a fictional Browns general manager played by Kevin Costner.
Mele is in several scenes and has some lines. He plays an NFL scout and is in many “war room” scenes with Costner, whose character decides what players the Browns will select.
“He’s a really nice guy — helpful to a fault,” said Mele about the film star. “He asked if I worked for the Browns.”
For his role in “Draft Day,” Mele said he was picked by the director, Ivan Reitman. Shooting took place in June at the Browns’ workout facility in Berea, at Browns Stadium and at Cuyahoga Community College.
Mele, 53, was a football player in his younger years. He attended the University of Toledo on a football scholarship, and studied theater there.
After Toledo, he came back to the Mahoning Valley. He worked briefly at General Motors in Lordstown and then enrolled at Youngstown State University, majoring in communications. He worked for local radio stations WSOM and WKBN for a couple of years before going back to the GM plant.
About six years ago, Mele got the itch to get back into acting.
He started out doing work as an extra in some major films, including “Adventureland,” “She’s Out Of My League” and “Duplicity.”
“I got a feel for the film business, then I did anything I could get, including student films,” he said. “My wife thought I was crazy. I put 140,000 miles on my car [traveling to and from film shoots] and was barely getting paid. But I was getting experience and built a resume.”
Mele also appeared on Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery channel programs, and has done a handful of television commercials, including ones for Window World and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
He recently hired an agent and became a member of the actors’ union: the Screen Actors Guild-American Federal of Television and Radio Artists.
Mele also has a small part in “New York Minute,” which was filmed in Pittsburgh and recently opened in New York. He plays a mobster in the film.
Future roles will be in “Madtown,” which will be shot in Cleveland this month and next.
He’s also working on “On the Run,” which will be shot in Miami, and “Embrace,” in Chicago.