Harry Melling, Dudley Dursley, is glad people don’t recognize him from Harry Potter

I watched that fabulous Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne action movie, The Old Guard, when it came out in July. (Was it that long ago?!) I didn’t realize that the villain was Harry Melling, who played Dudley Dursley, until someone mentioned it recently in one of our weekly Celebitchy Zoom calls. He just seemed like a creepy British actor who was particularly skilled at playing the bad guy. Well Melling likes the fact that he’s not recognized from Harry Potter, because that has freed him to go out in public without getting mobbed (I’m assuming) and to play different types of roles. He told People that he’s happy he has more flexibility now that he’s lost weight and grown up. He’s also starring in two other popular Nexflix films, The Devil All the Time and The Queen’s Gambit, and said it’s wonderful that everyone is watching them. My son reminded me that he was also in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, in a devastating short with Liam Neeson. Here’s more of what he told People:

Harry Melling… 31, looks virtually unrecognizable from his Dudley Dursley character in the Harry Potter film series to his three Netflix projects, all of which hit the streaming platform amid the coronavirus pandemic: the Charlize Theron-starring action film The Old Guard, the star-studded thriller The Devil All the Time, and the company’s latest buzzed-about show, The Queen’s Gambit.

“I hope people don’t get bored of seeing me,” he jokes to PEOPLE. “But honestly it’s just a great, strange coincidence that unfortunately, people can’t get out and so they’re relying on Netflix. So it’s been a really strange and wonderful happening, the fact that these shows have all had this strange COVID life almost.”

Over the course of the Harry Potter films, Melling lost a considerable amount of weight, previously revealing that he was almost recast for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, but ended up wearing a fat suit to keep the role.

“I think it was an unconscious thing when it started to happen,” Melling says of his transformation. “I went to drama school when I was 18 and that’s kind of where the weight shifted, not for any sort of major need on my side, but it’s just something that just happened. And I’ve done a lot since drama school, went to do lots of theater. I think one of the blessings of that sort of stage in my life was the fact that I didn’t get recognized. I had this history of being part of the films, but also I felt like I had the opportunity to sort of cause a new start, which I think is useful…

“Everyone does say it’s fun to play the baddie, and I do think there’s a lot of truth in that.”

[From People]

I watched the DVD extras for the final Harry Potter film and there’s a sweet scene between Dudley and Harry where Dudley wishes Harry well. When I first saw it I was struck by what a great actor Melling is. I feel bad for those now adult actors that their work is sort-of marred by Rowling’s forever-tainted legacy.

In our Zoom call we also talked about the fact that so many of the young Harry Potter actors turned out fine and aren’t as affected by fame and celebrity as American child stars. That may just be because many of them, like Melling and Daniel Radcliffe, have gone on to be working actors. They didn’t get sucked up by marketers through Disney or the predatory music industry in the US, which tries to make little kids into full on brands.




photos credit: Netflix press, WENN and Avalon.red

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15 Responses to “Harry Melling, Dudley Dursley, is glad people don’t recognize him from Harry Potter”

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  1. Sarah says:

    No way!!! We recently re-watched The Old Guard and I never would have made the connection without you pointing it out. Good for him.

    It is interesting how child stars in the UK seem to have more opportunity to grow up and get on with acting rather than having to be owned by a corporation (looking at you Disney).

    • Case says:

      This is so true. Saoirse Ronan was a child star and look how successful (and level-headed!) she is. Same with Emma Watson and several others who grew up to be seemingly lovely people doing good work.

      Zendaya and Hilary Duff are the only child stars who comes to mind who managed to escape the Disney curse.

  2. Bibliomommy96 says:

    I loved those scenes with Harry & his aunt, and Dudley, I was so sad they cut them. It brought so much to their characters,

  3. Lolamd says:

    I love the Queen’s Gambit and he is especially good in the series.

  4. souperkay says:

    He is such a good actor! Buster Scruggs is when I did the full exorcist head spin watching him work with Liam Neeson he is so good! I loved him in Old Guard & the devil all the time too, I’m glad he found his footing post potter. I kinda want to see him and dan r in opposition again, hopefully they will work together again soon.

  5. Becks1 says:

    I think one of the reasons so many of the HP stars are well-adjusted is bc the films took so long and the kids grew up. Like Emma Watson was 11 when Sorceror’s stone came out, and 21 when Deathly Hallows II came out. So I think that’s a little different from being a huge child star and 10 and that’s the biggest thing you’ve ever done. Harry Potter as an entity is the biggest thing these actors will probably ever do, but I think the sheer time involved made a difference and has made it easier for them to transition to post-HP work.

  6. VIV says:

    I had to IMDB The Old Guard cast because I knew I recognized him, and I knew he wasn’t Neville, but I just couldn’t place him. He’s making great stuff – love TOG and The Queen’s Gambit!

  7. Mika says:

    It’s not a coincidence that the Harry Potter kids have done better than many of their American peers. There are much stronger labour laws protecting child actors in the U.K than the State of California. There are also stronger laws protecting them from unwanted press attention under the age of 18.

    • Molly says:

      Someone somewhere is doing something right, because those HP kids seem to have avoided the worst outcomes of child stars.

    • tcbc says:

      Also the American director/producer of the first film and the person most responsible for casting the actors, Chris Columbus, learned from his previous experience directing “Home Alone” and intentionally cast kids that had strong family bonds, rather than just picking the ones he thought were the most talented or dynamic. That’s a big reason why the Potter kids are so well-adjusted, and also why as a whole they’re not very talented, IMO.

      • Mash says:

        Per crazy days and nights the Harry Potter kids particularly the boys went through it in the worst way I didn’t believe that until Rupert Grint said that he couldn’t watch the first batch of HP films and that just sound like a survivor’s statement I don’t know it was weird

  8. Elisa says:

    He’s a good actor and also reminds me so much of Christopher Eccleston, they should act together on something

  9. tcbc says:

    Men are so lucky they’re allowed to be “interesting looking.” An actress of comparable physical appearance would have to wait until she was much older to get any work, and even then she’d be fighting with 100 other similar women to get 2-3 lines in a police procedural once a year.

  10. Boo says:

    He was in an episode of “Merlin” too, in which he played a person with magic. Must have been fun for him to play the wizard.