Celebrity Then And Now
Harry Melling
Name: Harry Melling
Birthdate: March 13, 1989
Famous Years: 2001-Present
Currently Known For: The Lost City of Z
Networth: $2 MillionFamous For: Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter Series
Harry Melling
Name Harry Melling
Birthdate March 13, 1989
Famous Years 2001-Present
Currently Known For The Lost City of Z
Networth $2 Million
Famous For Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter Series

From the very beginning of the “Harry Potter” series, many youngsters immediately felt affection for the titular character because of his upbringing. Before heading off to Hogwarts, Potter had been raised by his aunt and uncle Dursley, and grew up with his cousin Dudley. Dudley was described as being a spoiled brat that got anything that he wanted, which was the opposite of Potter’s childhood. Fans immediately came to detest the character, but someone had to be willing to play him on the big screen. That role, of course, would end up going to Harry Melling, who played Dudley in five of the eight “Harry Potter” films.

Melling was born on March 13, 1989 in London where he had come from a family of actors. His grandfather (Patrick Troughton) had been the second person to play the Doctor on “Doctor Who”, while his uncles had also achieved success on the screen. Melling knew he wanted to follow in their footsteps, training in theater at a young age and taking roles on stage. Then, he’d land his most notable role to date when he was cast as Dudley in the “Harry Potter” series.

To get the role, melling said that his mother had “sent off my photos to the producer of the Potter films when I was 10, thinking I might be an extra.” Then, “A year later I was asked to read for Dudley. When I got the part, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m in a film,’ not that I was cast as fat and ugly. I kept quiet about it. Nobody ever recognized me.”

At the time, Melling didn’t know exactly what he was getting into as part of one of the biggest book and film franchises of all-time. “Once the first film was out, people started to realize exactly what a franchise this was going to be,” he said. “That was when the films started to change. They took on a formula.” Despite being cast into a role that was less than appealing, Melling says that “Harry Potter gives you a sense of needing to prove yourself beyond the whole child actor thing. It’s a great opportunity, a great platform, but how do you go on from that?”

While many of the other child actors in the “Harry Potter” scene were focused primarily on the film series and not working outside of it, Melling was busy with many other productions. In 2005, he appeared on the television show “Friends and Crocodiles”, and then had a very busy 2010 after reprising his role as Dudley Dursley.

When he came back as Dudley for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1”, many noted that Melling had looked quite a bit different. In his three years away from ‘Potter’, Melling had lost a significant amount of weight, no longer looking the spoiled child that he once portrayed. Because of that, Melling had to wear extra padding under his clothing to make it look like he never lost the weight, and said part of the reason he did so was to shed the image that many had of him as the character.

Melling wanted to distance himself from the way he was being cast as much as possible. He said that on stage he had been playing an old man, and that “Before that I had played fat clowns and I thought, ‘If I want to have the career I would like, I am going to have to lose weight.’ I was just starting drama school, and found I was moving around a lot. I also started to eat sensibly. The weight just dropped off. I went from (224 pounds) to (159 pounds).”

Melling doesn’t much care for talking about his character these days, saying that “I kind of want to let it go. It’s done.” He added that he knows that people will still want to bring up his role in “Harry Potter”, saying “I don’t know if it will ever really be done. People will still go, ‘Oh, you’re Dudley Dursley, the fat one.’

He took to the stage at the Royal National Theatre, and starred in three different stage productions that year while also appearing on television in “Merlin” and “Just William”. Since then, Melling has been one of the busier stage performers, appearing in 12 productions since 2012, including multiple stints in the play “King Lear”. Most recently, he was at the Finborough Theatre in 2017 in “Jam” playing Kane. In 2016, he would return to television with a one-episode appearance in “The Musketeers”, and in the film “The Lost City of Z” starring Charlie Hunnam and fellow former “Harry Potter” star Robert Pattinson.

Now Melling can fully focus on his career outside of the popular film series, saying that “Harry Potter was a lifetime ago. I was 10 in the first film, so much has happened since then.” As for what his next big goal is, he wants to play the next Doctor in “Doctor Who” after his grandfather did it before. “I am not the person in charge of that (decision) but I would love to keep it in the family. It probably won’t happen as I might need to be a bit older. I’ve really enjoyed doing theater but getting ‘Doctor Who’ in the family again would be great.”