Watch: Harry Melling reveals the strange inspiration behind his Edgar Allan Poe
Harry Melling has revealed that before taking on the role of Edgar Allan Poe in the Netflix thriller The Pale Blue Eye, he spent a lot of time watching the work of silent film legend Buster Keaton.
The 33-year-old said he wasn’t sure if this research had a direct and obvious impact on his performances, but it definitely affected certain aspects of the character.
Melling plays a fictionalized young version of Poe in the film, working with Christian Bale’s seasoned detective Landor to investigate a murder at his secluded military academy.
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“The only movie I kind of weirdly came back to – and to be honest I don’t think it really affected my performances – was watching a lot of Buster Keaton,” Melling told Yahoo UK.
He added: “I just thought maybe there was something weird about it that might be useful. But that’s all.
“I saw it and thought maybe I’d just go back to the script. But there was something interesting in terms of expression [Keaton] is.”
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Melling said it was an “absolute gift” to play someone as interesting as Poe, and praised writer-director Scott Cooper for the screenplay based on Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel.
He added, “Poe had so many options in terms of what he’s going through in this story. He has a very beautiful relationship with Landor for me that I was excited to explore. Everything about it was such a gift that it really was.”
In addition to the unraveling bond with Landor, the film’s version of Poe also begins a romance with Lea Marquis, the daughter of a doctor at Toby Jones Academy.
Lea is portrayed by Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton, who said it was “easy” to find her chemistry with Melling on and off camera because he’s “such a nice guy.”
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She added: “He’s such an easy guy around, just kind, generous and cooperative. I just loved the way these characters came together.
“They both have such a sense of difference that they share it when they are together and see each other really clearly.
“There’s such an air of freedom and honesty when they’re together, so it was quite easy and beautiful to find those moments of appreciation and comfort.”
Boynton said Melling’s intensity in the role only made it easier to work with him in their scenes together.
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She added: “It’s intense, but I think there’s something really approachable about it. It’s like intense curiosity, very open and inviting.”
The Pale Blue Eye is available to watch on Netflix from January 6.
Watch: Pale Blue Eye Trailer