Harry Melling, who played Dudley Dursley. Lost enough weight following the Harry Potter franchise that not many fans ever recognize him.
2020 was a big year for British actor Harry Melling, having featured in three major Netflix movies, The Old Guard, The Devil All the Time, and the upcoming chess drama The Queen’s Gambit. But before all those roles, Melling was best known to audiences as the large, thuggish cousin to Harry Potter, Dudley Dursley. In an interview with People, Melling explained how dramatic weight loss helped shed his image as Dudley in the minds of viewers, which proved to be a boon for his career.
“I think it was an unconscious thing when it started to happen. 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.”
Harry Melling appeared as Dudley in every Harry Potter movie except The Goblet of Fire, and The Half-Blood Prince. Portrayed as remarkably obese, with a passion for rich foods. The actor was almost replaced in the role of Dudley at one point because of his dramatic weight loss. In a 2017 interview, Melling had revealed that he was allowed to stay on as Dudley. But dressed in a fat suit to continue with the illusion of the character’s immense size.
“I do look a bit different because Dudley was a very piggish character and about three years ago I lost a considerable amount of weight. It was quite funny because I had a big fat suit on in this film and face prosthetic. It was bizarre, you feel really big, and my mobility was affected. However, it is amazing to feel light but within someone that should feel really heavy. So that was a fascinating contrast.”
Across the breadth of the franchise. Audiences saw Melling’s Dudley go from a cruel and bullying tween to a cruel and bullying teen. Then, in Order of the Phoenix, Dudley was attacked by the dementors, who, according to author J.K. Rowling, forced him to finally face the fact that he was extremely spoiled and a terrible human being. That incident marked a change in Dudley’s behavior, and he and Harry ended the series on somewhat cordial terms. For Melling, playing villains like Dudley. And his characters in The Old Guard, and The Devil All the Time can be fun. Even if they are nothing like him in real life.
“Everyone does say it’s fun to play the baddie, and I do think there’s a lot of truth in that. I like to think that I’m not an evil person or malicious in any way.”
This news comes from People.