Harry Melling interview: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

“I was a real beginner when it came anything to do with chess,” confesses “The Queen’s Gambit” co-star Harry Melling in our recent webchat. He adds, “I had to study up and quick. That’s part of the joy of acting, finding all of those different things you have to learn along the way to play certain roles.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is a Netflix limited series that follows the rise of chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during the Cold War. Melling plays Harry Beltik, a state chess champion who is defeated by Beth before befriending her. The actor explains, “Harry starts off quite a plucky character, ready to win back his trophy. This woman walks into his life and makes him re-evaluate everything, not only his own game of chess, but what he wants in life. She completely, in a very positive way, helps him as he helps her. He realizes it is not all about chess for him, and it’s not all about winning. It’s about doing something for someone else.”

As the series progresses, Harry moves in with Beth. Melling reveals, “The most challenging scene was where he says to Beth, ‘I know you’ve been taking these pills.’ Then he leaves. For the story that had to be told in that moment, it was very important we got a sense that Harry was doing this for Beth, not for himself. He wasn’t leaving because he had enough. He was leaving because it was the right thing to do to allow her to become who she needs to be. He had done all he could at that point in the story.”

In the final episode of the series, we see Harry in a scene with other chess players Beth has encountered. Melling says, “It was really lovely to come to the scene where they are all trying to help. You go, ‘gosh this is such a huge story.’ When you’ve been concentrating on one bit you can get surprised at the stuff happening around it. It was a nice reminder of the extraordinary journey Beth goes on. She starts off having lost her family and throughout the series she collects these different people and she kind of creates her own family.”

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UPLOADED May 26, 2021 5:30 pm