This concerns the episode called "Meal Ticket" from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Is there any hint as to how the character Companion/Artist lost his legs and arms? There is a scene in brothel when Impresario says the Actor had intercourse but just once. Is it possible source of injury?

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    Its slightly confusing to me to have "the Actor" - when it wasn't initially clear to me whether that you mean in or out of universe. I checked IMDB and I don't see a character called "The Companion" or "The Actor". Harry Melling's character in IMDB is just called "Artist". Not having seen the movie, would that be a better name for the character?
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


The actor, Harry Melling, has all his limbs. In order to play the role, there was some stage tricks, use of a motion base, and a lot of CGI. More about that can be read at How Ballad of Buster Scruggs pulled off its cutting-edge effects.

In-story, how the character got this way is not addressed. Harry Melling believes it is a birth defect though:

You know, it’s important to to sort of have an idea of what happened to him. We’re talking post-Civil War, so having four limbs amputated is, from research, unheard of. Even having four limbs amputated now is a major major risk. So then you sort of steer towards the idea of this must be a something he had from birth and then you look into that line of research, and you find this particular syndrome that I sort of looked into. All of that work has to be done but not necessarily waved in front of the camera. How he moves is important. But all of that became secondary, because the story telling is this guy who went around performing these speeches and the audience is depleting.
Interview: Harry Melling talks The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Netflix and Liam Neeson with horses

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    thanks. Should i edit Q to specify that I am not asking about actor Harry Melling but The Actor (as movie's character)? Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:52
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    @aaaaasaysreinstateMonica I think it would help. When I read the question, I wasn't sure if you were asking how the person playing the character lost a limb/how it was performed in-universe.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 15:53

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