Dudley said trans rights. In a recent interview with The Independent, Harry Potter actor Harry Melling unequivocally stated that “transgender women are women and transgender men are men.”
Melling starred in the Harry Potter films as the titular character’s bullying cousin, Dudley. At the start of each film, Harry would be forced to spend the summer with his bigoted, non-magical relatives before being whisked away to the Hogwarts wizarding school. It is in these summer sequences that author JK Rowling would present an opposition to generalized prejudice which she now refuses to extend to real life trans people.
But Melling has shown just how little he has in common with his former role or its creator. When asked about Rowling’s many transphobic comments, he said, “I can only speak for myself, and what I feel, to me, is very simple, which is that transgender women are women and transgender men are men. Every single person has the right to choose who they are and to identify themselves as what’s true to themselves.
“I don’t want to join the debate of pointing fingers and saying, ‘That’s right, that’s wrong,’ because I don’t think I’m the correct spokesperson for that. But I do believe that everybody has the right to choose.”
Since publishing an essay outlining her anti-trans stance in 2020, Rowling has proudly and loudly embraced transphobia. As a result, many of the actors previously involved with the Harry Potter franchise have been put into the position of outlining their stance on the controversy. Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes have both defended the incredibly wealthy and powerful Rowling as the victim. Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, meanwhile, have come out in support of trans rights, with Melling now joining them.
Elsewhere in the interview, Melling described how the perceptions around his fictional role have affected his life, particularly in terms of his weight. In the books, Rowling describes Dudley as having “porky hands,” “piggy little eyes” and being as large as a “young killer whale.” As a child, Melling was cast into the films to fit those descriptions.
Journalists would sometimes describe his weight in similar terms. Commenting on one such article from the time that described Dudley as Harry’s “lard-bucket cousin,” Melling said, “When you’re 10 years old and you play a role like that, people are going to think of you as that thing, and are going to want to hold on to that thing.
“Obviously, that was 23 years ago. And obviously, that writer was trying to hook an audience in, so I understand why they’re saying those things, but I just have to read that and accept that that’s their way into the interview. There’s nothing really else I can say.”