Harry Melling Considers His Appearance a Blessing. It’s Helped Him Move On From the Role of Dudley Dursley and Restart His Career
British actor Harry Melling became world famous as a child after he portrayed Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter film franchise. In time, this became the only role he was associated with, before he disappeared off the screens altogether. That’s when his appearance changed so drastically that it was impossible to recognize him as the cute chubby kid from the beloved magical universe. This is exactly what helped Harry to build his career anew. As he became unidentifiable, he gained the freedom to choose his roles and embody unexpected characters on screen.
When he was young, Harry worried about his weight.
Harry Melling wanted to be an actor from an early age and even took part in theater productions. But his real breakthrough was the role of Dudley Dursley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The boy’s mom sent a picture of young Harry to the producers, and it was a massive surprise to him that he was chosen to take part in the filming. Subsequently, Melling would appear in four more Harry Potter films, but by the beginning of filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, he would be facing difficulties due to his weight.
When he was a child and teenager, the actor’s weight often fluctuated. On the one hand, he was an active child, doing a lot of running and dancing; on the other hand, he liked to eat, especially if he was bored. At the same time, Melling took part in the National Youth Theatre, and when the 15-year-old actor was given the role of a chubby old man, he realized that due to his build, he risked playing such roles for the rest of his life.
Harry then started eating healthy foods, running, and going to the gym. As a result, he lost so much weight that in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, he had to wear a fat suit to keep the role. However, most of Melling’s scenes were cut during the editing process, so in the film, we can only see Dudley from afar, leaving Privet Drive with his parents.
The drastic weight loss helped Harry relaunch his career.
After the filming of the Harry Potter franchise, Melling disappeared from the big screens for a while, but he kept developing his acting career. He studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, took part in many theatre productions, and even appeared in a few episodes of various TV series, including Merlin, Just William, Garrow’s Law, and others. But in the mid-2010s, Harry made a triumphant return. First, he portrayed William Barclay in The Lost City of Z, after which he got a small role in The Current War, and then embodied Harrison in the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
In recent years he’s become a Netflix star.
Since 2020, Harry has appeared in as many as three Netflix projects. First, he starred in the action film The Old Guard, alongside Charlize Theron, then in the thriller The Devil All the Time, and, finally, in four episodes of the latest hit, The Queen’s Gambit. It was then that audiences really started to pay close attention to his acting, with the press becoming littered with headlines about how Melling had become completely unrecognizable since Harry Potter. He felt delighted to be in demand and that his work was finally appreciated by the audience.
He prefers to keep his personal life private.
While in terms of his career, Harry is thrilled that he has managed to become known for his new roles; when it comes to his personal life, the actor prefers to keep it behind the scenes. So Melling is not on Instagram and uses his only social media profile on Twitter strictly for work purposes — to promote upcoming projects.
Moreover, Harry avoids talking about romantic relationships, so fans don’t know whether the actor is dating someone or not. However, in March 2022, Melling was pictured holding hands with actress Patsy Ferran at a fundraising gala at the Royal National Theatre. But no confirmation or denial has ever emerged about their relationship.
He’s ready for new acting challenges.
In the last couple of years, the actor has been experimenting with many different screen personas and embodying a wide variety of characters. In 2021, he once again collaborated with the Coen brothers, playing Malcolm in their new film adaptation of Macbeth. And in early 2023, The Pale Blue Eye was released on Netflix, with Harry portraying the famous author Edgar Allan Poe.
Although the actor still gets his fair share of questions about his work on the famous film franchise, Melling feels honored by the fame that fans have bestowed upon him in recent years. He also notes that, ultimately, he considers his appearance to be a real blessing. It was precisely because the actor has changed so much since childhood that he was finally able to move on from the role of Dudley Dursley, which had haunted him for years, and start his career all over again.
Have you watched the latest series starring Harry Melling? Which of his roles did you find the most memorable?