Harry Melling is no stranger to playing the bully or villain. In fact, his best known role to date is the one which called for him to grow up in cinema as the nasty cousin of Harry Potter in the epic Wizarding saga. Melling portrayed Dudley Dursey in the Harry Potter movies and has since moved on to impressive other works, now looking to graduate into a major comic book film at Netflix where he is a much more sophisticated antagonist. In The Old Guard, an Image Comics story adapted to a film for Netflix, Melling portrays science genius and ruthless businessman Merrick — a character who he had fun comparing to Dudley in an interview with ComicBook.com.
If Dudley from the Harry Potter world grew up, went to university, and studied quite a bit — could have become this Merrick character? “Well, I hope not, I mean, you know,” Melling laughed. “Hey, it could be. Yeah, I mean, he certainly did a lot of, he certainly must’ve done a lot of science at university. But, yeah, I mean, you know it’s always fun to play these eccentric characters, and to find the details within them. So, I’ll take that, absolutely.”
Merrick and Dudley are, of course, quite different. Neither character intended to be the fan-favorite as their villainous qualities detract from the mission of the beloved heroes of the movie. While Dudley was the scared and annoying cousin to Harry Potter, Merrick is much more aggressive and ruthless in his means to take what he wants.
Meanwhile, Melling spends a good portion of his time on screen sharing it with Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was also willing to compare his role to another popular gig — that of Baron Mordo in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
“Well, they were all great, you know, they’ve all been really good. They’re very different, you know,” Ejiofor said. “This is very different to Doctor Strange, obviously, and the kind of Marvel universe. These characters have a different set of attractions for me, I guess. And there’s something about this that’s very kind of, it’s very grounded, you know, these are people who aren’t, who don’t celebrate their gifts at all. You know, that actually their immortality they carry as a kind of burden, which is quite an interesting way into this, into the story. My character, Copley, he’s complex. I have a great deal of empathy for the character because of what he has gone through, but he’s obviously crossing all of these moral and ethical lines in the way that he is behaving and what he’s getting drawn into. And all of that was really interesting to play, and really interesting to kind of play around in, and to see whether you can sort of carry an audience through maintaining a kind of empathy for this sort of slightly strange guy.”
The Old Guard got a solid rating of approval in ComicBook.com’s official review. The movie hits Netflix on July 10.