The Queen’s Gambit star Harry Melling says weight loss means people no longer recognise him from Harry Potter

Roisin O'Connor
·2-min read
Harry Melling in Harry Potter (left) and in 2018 (Warner Bros/Rex)
Harry Melling in Harry Potter (left) and in 2018 (Warner Bros/Rex)

British actor Harry Melling says he no longer gets recognised for arguably his most famous role to date, as Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films.

The 31-year-old appeared opposite Daniel Radcliffe in all of the blockbuster films based on JK Rowling’s wizarding series.

He currently stars in new Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit, about a female chess prodigy (Anya Taylor-Joy), and recently appeared in The Devil All the Time with Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland.

Over the course of the Harry Potter films, Melling lost a considerable amount of weight, and previously revealed that he ended up wearing a fat suit in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, to avoid being recast.

“I think it was an unconscious thing when it started to happen,” Melling told People. “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.”

He added that “one of the blessings” of that stage of his life was the fact that he didn’t get recognised.

“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,” he said.

Melling now faces a new challenge when it comes to recognition, due to his many roles in some of the most prominent TV and film projects of 2020.

Since wrapping on Harry Potter, he has appeared in films including The Lost City of Z, and the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

In 2020 alone, however, he has starred as a villain in The Old Guard, stolen scenes from Holland and Pattinson in The Devil All the Time, and played a brilliant yet arrogant chess player in The Queen’s Gambit.

Harry Melling in The Queen’s GambitNetflix
Harry Melling in The Queen’s GambitNetflix

“I hope people don't get bored of seeing me,” he joked. “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.”

He said he was enjoying his spate of roles as “the baddie” but admitted he was “awful” at chess when he was cast in The Queen’s Gambit.

“I knew a chessboard, I knew what the pieces looked like, but I had no idea how they moved, where they went, what the rules were,” he said. “So I was starting from scratch.”

The Queen’s Gambit has received rave reviews from fans, despite a relatively quiet release on Netflix.

See a roundup of reactions here.

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