Harry Melling discusses “Potter”, stage career in new interview
Harry Melling, who portrayed Dudley Dursley in the Potter films, has spoken in a new interview of his newfound stage career and how he looks back upon his time working on the Potter films with fond memories.
The actor first talks about his love of the theater:
I come from quite an actor family, so I definitely grew up watching theater from a young age and always knew there was something magical about that. And always knew that I wanted to be involved in that.
But saying that, I think that screen work is equally as magical but just in very different ways, really. At the moment, I’ve done theater after theater, certainly in the last two years. But that’s not a kind of ‘I’m never doing screen work again!’ That’s just the work that’s become more available that I’ve been interested in.
He then reveals that he would like to get back on screen in the near future:
I’d love to get back in front of a camera and doing that medium as well. Because it’s so different. I think often you find actors [who just] do one of them always want to go back to the other.
You’re constantly trying to work it out, really, how you do the performances that you love seeing and how you get that. Not out of a cunning plan of ‘Yes, I must do stage’ – just out of what’s been offered, really.
Earlier this year, Meddling made his New York debut in a production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, where he played the Fool. He commented,
It was amazing. This year’s very New York[-]central. Just kind of ‘Yes, please, more of that.’ I love the city so much; it’s just a great place. Very wonderful characters. Eccentric in a way that’s different to England, and I loved that.
On top of that, the actor also performed his own play Peddling this year, which you can read our review of here. Melling said,
It was a one-man show in New York. This brilliant new writing gear company called High Tide that [does] a festival in Suffolk every year. They’re really great at championing new writing, and they liked the play, and they wanted to do it. We got the opportunity to do it in New York, and it’s coming to London next year. So yeah, that’s exciting.
He looks back fondly on his time spent working on the Potter films. The actor said,
It was so many years of doing it. And although I wasn’t on the yearly commitment that perhaps the others were on – because they were needed throughout the year for the shoot – I think maybe I got the best of both worlds: allowing myself to live in the same world as movie making and then try [to] get back to school.
I was very lucky in that sense. I had a great time; I learned a lot. It was a wonderful experience. It’s kind of odd to talk about it because it’s like talking about your childhood; it’s sometimes quite slippery, what you remember and what you don’t remember. But I just remember it being such a blast.
He goes on to reveal that people no longer recognize him as Dudley:
That’s another blessing, particularly that person because it wouldn’t be the funnest of people hanging around you all the time. So it’s nice to go on a tube and not be recognised and potter about London without people shouting rude things at you. So that’s a really good thing.
The actor explained that he was not entirely sure if he would be asked to return for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 because of his weight loss. He explained,
What happened was… I lost the weight when I was about 18, at drama school. Not really consciously, but you change your routine and whatnot. And it just started to go, and I thought ‘Hey, this is exciting; I’m changing the way I look’.
I still had one more film to go, and I thought, ‘Oh, God, I wonder what they’re going to say. I’m not sure how they’re going to get round this’. But they did; they really tried to. So I think the recasting fear was more me projecting onto them, as opposed to them saying things.
Melling is excited for the future Potter spin-offs, such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but reveals that he is unlikely to star in them.
The Potter Projects! I think probably behind me. I don’t know what I’d be achieving were I to go back there. Certainly not playing who I was playing. I think that has to live in its own world, which is probably outside the movie world, to be a success really.
Otherwise, you question why you’re doing it. But I can’t wait to see it; I have no idea how they’re going to do it. But I think, ‘maybe that’s done’. Maybe those ten years are done, and now it’s about looking onto the next ten years.
His new play, The Angry Brigade, takes the actor back to the 1970s.
It’s a great piece of theater, I think; the writing is exceptional: so full and brimming with ideas. Paines Plough [is] such a great company to work for. I’ve always wanted to work with them because I love all the new writing stuff they do, and James Graham is a brilliant, brilliant writer.
I play quite a few [characters]. In the second act I play a guy called Jim; he was one of the Angry Brigaders – one of the Stoke Newington 8. He went to Cambridge where he met John Barker, who’s a fellow Angry Brigader. And they just got bored of the way the world ran, really, and they tried to change it. Especially in Britain they were bored of the government and the types of people [who] were running the country and how the country was organised… they just didn’t want to be a part of it.
I think it’s extremely funny because James’s writing is always very funny. It’s extremely sharp, the wit is very clever, very witty. But also there’s some really heart-breaking scenes; you see their relationships corrode, and you see them splintering. So it’s constantly going between those two things, from being very funny to going very serious. It’s a time in history that was kept under wraps. So that’s what is fizzing underneath this production: the need to tell this story.
Melling can be seen in The Angry Brigade, which runs from September 19 to October 4 at the Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth. It will then head out on a national tour until October 25. For more information, and to purchase tickets, click here.
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