Harry Melling is known to a generation of Harry Potter fans as Dudley Dursley, the spoiled son of the horrible Petunia and Vernon Dursley, who made the young wizard’s life a misery when he wasn’t at Hogwarts. Since those films wrapped, up Melling has carved out a career for himself as a talented character actor and playwright, appearing in The Queen’s Gambit, The Tragedy of Macbeth, and His Dark Materials.
He’s currently nailing it in Netflix’s The Pale Blue Eye, in which he plays iconic horror author Edgar Allan Poe. The mystery thriller stars Christian Bale as veteran detective Augustus Landor, who enlists the help of Melling’s young Poe after a military cadet is found hanged.
Melling’s performance has been positively received, but in an inevitable twist for former Wizarding World actors, interviewers can’t resist quizzing him about his time in Harry Potter. In an interview with The Wrap, Melling was asked whether having the iconic IP on his resume helps open doors for him in much the same way as it benefited Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson:
“I think that we all have the common thing, which is we’re very proud of those films, very thankful they exist, and we’re amazed constantly at the reach it has in terms of not just for our generation, but now my friends who are having kids’ generation, it’s constantly a story that people will latch on to.
But at the same time, we have to move forward, we have to move on with our lives, we have to make the choices we want, whether it’s about continuing that thing or not. And I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of storytelling.”
But Melling is keen to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past:
“I always knew I wanted to do that – not just acting, but I just love telling stories and expressing what people might be doing and what’s going on inside. I’ve just been lucky enough that the things that I’ve done have allowed me to explore character and those kinds of stories. And yes, I guess some of them have been experimental, and some of them have been a bit less sort of conventional as I guess your franchise films, but it doesn’t matter what the genre is as long as I feel that I can sort of offer something to it.”
Melling also recently made headlines when he was asked for his opinion on J.K. Rowling’s sad slide into transphobia. In an interview with The Independent, he admitted he’s not the “correct spokesman” on the topic, but made his thoughts very clear:
“I can only speak for myself, and what I feel, to me, is very simple, which is that transgender women are women and transgender men are men. Every single person has the right to choose who they are and to identify themselves as what’s true to themselves.”
It’s a quiet miracle that all the Harry Potter child stars seem to have emerged from the franchise with their heads screwed on, and Melling sounds like no exception. Here’s hoping he gets to realize his ambition to tell more offbeat stories in future.
The Pale Blue Eye is available to stream on Netflix.