Watch: Harry Melling explains his strange inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe
Harry Melling revealed that he spent a lot of time watching the work of silent film legend Buster Keaton before taking on the role of Edgar Allan Poe in the Netflix thriller The Pale Blue Eye.
The 33-year-old said he wasn’t sure this research had a direct and obvious impact on his performance, but it certainly informed some aspects of the character.
Melling plays a fictionalized teenage version of Poe in the film and teams up with Christian Bale’s senior detective, Landor, to investigate a murder at his secluded military academy.
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“Strangely the only movie I’ve come back to – and I honestly don’t think it really impacted my performance – I’ve watched a lot of Buster Keaton,” Melling told Yahoo UK.
“I just thought there was something useful in his weirdness. But that was it.
“I saw that and thought maybe I’d go back to the script. But there was something interesting about how impressive it was. [Keaton] is is.”
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Melling said it was “an absolute gift” to be able to play someone as interesting as Poe, and praised writer-director Scott Cooper for his screenplay based on Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel.
He added: “Poe had such a wide spectrum to her in terms of what she experienced in the story. For me, she has such a beautiful relationship with Landor that I was excited to discover. Everything about it was such a gift, it really was.”
Along with his mystery-solving bond with Landor, the film’s Poe version also begins to form the beginning of Toby Jones’s love affair with the academy doctor’s daughter, Lea Marquis.
Lea is played by Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton, and Melling says it’s “easy” to find her chemistry on and off camera because she’s “a very nice guy.”
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He added: “He’s such an easy guy to be around, and he’s so kind and generous and cooperative. I loved the way these characters came together.
“They both have such a sense of otherness that they share it when they’re with each other, and they really see each other clearly.
“There’s such a relaxed and honest breath when they’re together, so it was pretty easy and nice to find those moments of recognition and comfort.”
Boynton said that Melling’s intensity in the role increased how easy it was to work with him on stages.
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“It’s intense but I think there’s something really approachable. It’s like intense curiosity and it’s very open and inviting.”
Pale Blue Eye is available to watch on Netflix from January 6th.
Watch: The Pale Blue Eye Trailer