Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five new Wizarding World adventures created by JK Rowling.
At the end of the last movie, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured in New York by the Magical Congress of the United States, with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But Grindelwald escaped and is now gathering pure-blood wizards to rule over all Muggles (ie: normal human beings!)
Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), who has been keeping in touch with Newt, reads in a tabloid that he is to wed Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) and cuts off all communication with him, not realizing that the gossip was wrong. Leta is in fact marrying Newt’s brother, Theseus.
Eddie and Katherine sat at a roundtable with us to talk about Hogwarts, magic and JK Rowling.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens this Friday, November 16th 2018.
Newt is a character that you can identify by the way he holds himself before you see his face. Did you put a lot of thought into the way you hold your body, it seems quite deliberate and true to the character?
Eddie Redmayne: In the first script, the way he was described when you first saw him was that he had his own walk, he stood out from the crowd. Jo mentioned to me that he had a Buster Keaton quality to him. It was the most amazing and terrifying description I’ve ever seen of a character.
I started looking at Buster Keaton things, and then meeting people. There are people in the world whose job it is to track creatures. I met this guy and he expressed to me how when you’re tracking creatures you have to be super silent. So if there are leaves you have your legs a foot apart so that you can keep all the weight on one foot, where you decide where you can put the other foot. And this guy stood like that, and he walked like that, and I was like, ‘That’s it then.’ Which was great until (Newt) had to run like that; I’m going to have to have a hip operation.
What did you anticipated about becoming a part of the legacy of the Harry Potter world, and has it played out the way you expected?
Katherine Waterston: I didn’t anticipate anything. Did you?
Eddie: I don’t know, and it may seem weird to say that, but you don’t really because you can’t imagine what it will be. Also, if you’re a pessimist like me you don’t let yourself imagine it will be a success.
The oddest thing is coming to places like the Wizarding World here (in LA). Even when we went to China, seeing people dressed up as Tina or Newt, brandishing your wands and you’ve made a decision on set, slightly high on caffeine, about your wand two years ago. Now someone is holding (it the way you did) and you’re like, ‘Was that my decision?’ That stuff is so odd and impossible to get your head around. It was surreal but wonderful at the same time.
This is the first time you go to Hogwarts.
Katherine: Not us.
Eddie: That’s a fricking sore point with us, because my character gets to go to Hogwarts, but lovely Josh, who played the young version of me, he’s the one (who goes). Neither of us got to go. We got to go to the green screen aqueduct. (he laughs)
But I did go and skulk around the classrooms, the sets that were built, and I may have taken a selfie or two in the Dark Arts room.
Katherine: That was really cool to see. What I wish I could have seen were all the students. This generation has grown up with (the franchise), and apparently all these young actors in Hogwarts’ uniforms were bouncing off the walls. I wish I’d seen them.
The stunts seem to be bigger in this sequel.
Katherine: Think of the alternative, we have to make them bigger and better. It’s a nightmare. What are we going to have to do in the next one? Those records (in the Department of Ancestral Records) almost killed us a couple of times.
Eddie: What was weird about the records was that they built all these (rows and rows of bookshelves) that went up and turned, and it was really hard to hold on to. After about three minutes we were like, ‘I can’t feel my fingertips. Have you got this?’
Katherine: That is what’s amazing about these films. Everything is so well thought out and brilliantly done, and then every now and then there’s a low budget moment where you feel, ‘Are we making a student film?’ We had to go down a set of stairs that nobody had built.
Eddie: Down to the river Seine. We had to walk down the street in character and look down the steps and go (he jumps up from his seat to demonstrate bending his knees pretending to go downstairs). I was excited about this moment. I’ve waited all my actor life to do that. David (Yates, the director) was like, ‘You’re looking like a duck.’
The boundary between good and evil seems to blur in this movie, especially between Newt and his brother Theseus – do you agree?
Eddie: I think it has a lot to do with the situations that Jo (JK Rowling) put us in. The fact that these guys are at each other, they are clearly chalk and cheese, and yet there is great love between them. That’s all the stuff that Jo writes so brilliantly. The characters aren’t one dimensional, they’re being pulled and tugged and pushed – nutty is the word David Yates used to describe it. Newt is quite a nutty character.
Was JK Rowling on the set all the time?
Katherine: No, she’s far too distracting. She comes on set and everything shuts down. We’re like moths to a flame. She is really so enchanting, plus she’s got all the goods, she’s got all the details, she’s got the hot gossip as far as the characters go.
I think she understands that she has that power over us and she knows we have a film to make. So she doesn’t come round all the time, but it’s always awesome when she does.
Eddie: She watches all the rushes and she even said the way that Callum’s character, Theseus was written in the script, he was a bit mean to Newt. But the way that Callum played him made him so human and empathetic, he’s just trying to do the right thing. Jo saw that and said to me that when she sees that footage she responds to that in how she writes the characters going forward. It’s a lovely dance.
Are you given a road map as to where your characters are going during these next few films?
Eddie: We literally found out the other day that some of the next film was going to be set in Rio de Janeiro – and we were like, ‘To Rio!’
Katherine: We’d love to know. But it’s just like real life. It’s not difficult to play a character who doesn’t know what’s going to happen to them next. That’s being a person. You just have to be where you are now and try to tell that bit of the story well and then hope that continues to be a wonderful challenge. I don’t think either one of us are worried if she’s going to send us into interesting directions and stretch us in new ways, because she always does that.