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Harry Melling hung out in cemeteries before playing Edgar Allan Poe

Actors prepare for roles in a variety of strange ways, but if you're playing an iconic figure of the horror world, there's only one place to head to.

Harry Melling in The Pale Blue Eye

If you’re playing a horror movie character – especially an iconic one – you’re going to have to go to some strange lengths while preparing for the role. Who knows what Nicolas Cage got up to before he played Dracula in the upcoming Renfield? Probably nothing normal, that’s for sure. And the same must be true when playing one of the most famous gothic horror writers of all time – Edgar Allen Poe.

Well, this definitely was the case for Harry Melling, who plays Poe in Netflix’s new gothic horror mystery movie The Pale Blue Eye, which also stars Christian Bale. In our recent interview with Melling about the role, we asked him about rehearsing in cemeteries; “it was very early on when I was trying to build an idea of who this person is. And I kept reading this thing about him [Poe], which was that he was obsessed with death, the idea of death; he was obsessed with the occult, what happens?”

“And I just on a whim, decided that I’m just gonna walk up to a cemetery, and just kind of hang out there. I’ve got my book with me; maybe just read some stuff there. I mean, it was really early on.”

Melling continued; “When I did walk in the cemetery as preparation, I was like, ‘Okay, this is interesting.’ I kind of feel in the space and environment that makes me feel like Edgar would feel there’s a romance to it. But at the same time, there is a sort of darkness to it. There’s lots of shade on the trees, and it just feels like death is literally in the atmosphere.”

“And I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll go again tomorrow’. And I went again the next day. And I would just kind of, you know, very respectfully, I must add, I would kind of read the script, I’d kind of go with some lines, I just kind of would decide that this is maybe a place, a routine, that I can get on board with.”

Melling concluded; “Because I think a lot of that early prep stuff is just about establishing a routine to build a character, and that kind of became a bit of one. Plus it sounded suitably strange! A suitably strange thing for me to do, that is in keeping with the strangeness, the misfit quality of Poe in those early scenes.”

So, it turns out that that is how you prepare to play Edgar Allen Poe – by visiting a graveyard every day. Which makes total sense, of course. The Pale Blue Eye comes to Netflix on January 6, 2023. Get in the mood by enjoying our guide to the best horror movies.