‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Great, But That’s Not Why We’re Talking About It

Every year or so, the internet loses its dang mind over a new, offbeat crush. Remember when the Hot Priest from Fleabag was a thing? (For the record, that was Andrew Scott, already Hot Moriarty from Sherlock, thanks.)

Now the new Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit has the always-online crowd thirsting after Harry Melling. But there’s a twist you didn’t see coming, unless you’re a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies. And who wants to confess to that anymore? #ThanksforNothingJoRowling.

Where Have You Seen Him Before?

Harry Melling

Harry Melling has been quietly earning a reputation as a dramatic actor. Now in his early thirties, he graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and acted in a swath of high-profile theater roles in the West End.

He’s part of an acting dynasty, too. His grandfather was Patrick Troughton, a storied British actor who famously played the second incarnation of The Doctor in 127 episodes of Doctor Who. Two of his uncles are actors as well.

Melling has been acting since he was ten years old. However, unlike many child actors, he’s had little trouble transitioning into mature roles. Audiences first took notice of him in the Coen Brothers’ offbeat anthology film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in 2018. This year, he made waves as Steven Merrick in The Old Guard (a film you should definitely watch on Netflix if you haven’t done so already) and Roy Lafterty in The Devil All the Time.

It wasn’t until The Queen’s Gambit limited series premiered in October, though, that he suddenly found himself plastered all over the internet. He plays Harry Beltik opposite star Anya Taylor-Joy in the historical chess drama that’s getting rave reviews. It’s good. You should watch it. But Harry Melling’s glow-up from his best-known role is what’s getting all the headlines.

Because that guy? The one in the photo up there? You’ve seen him before. Go on, scroll back up. I’ll wait.

Harry Melling’s most famous role before now was… Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films!

Dudley No More

Like Matthew Lewis, who played the awkward, chubby Neville Longbottom in the series, Melling lost a significant amount of weight in his teens. In fact, he actually had to wear a fat suit in his final appearance as Dudley–in scenes that were later cut but can be seen in the bonus content for Deathly Hallows.

Because Melling’s physical transformation was so stunning–and because, frankly, Dudley was not a role that required much range–many viewers failed to connect the dots between his first film role and his more recent work. It’s likely made it easier for him to slip into adult roles.

Melling has also said that he’s enjoyed the relative anonymity of leaving his Potter persona behind. People don’t recognize him on the street–although that might change as his star continues to rise.

You can check out the trailer below, but seriously, don’t sleep on this show. It’s really good–and by next month, we’ll all be obsessed with some other childhood favorite who got a glow-up.