Like millions of others, British actor Eddie Redmayne still recalls the joy of watching the Harry Potter films. “Every year or two it was, ‘Ah, take me back to that place!’” he sighs. “In the same way as those other great iconic franchises – like Bond – there’s the whole theatre of queuing up to go and see it and knowing the familiarity of that world you’re going into. It’s reassuring as the years pass that you’re still being hugged by those things.”
“Hugged” is right. A seven-book series that enchanted millions, JK Rowling’s boy wizard has spawned eight films, one current hit play, theme parks and a mountain of merchandise that’d put Star Wars to shame. Nineteen years since the publication of his first adventure, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Potter has defined childhoods (and adulthoods) ever since. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a second film franchise, the Redmayne-starring Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is upon us.
Inspired by Rowling’s 2001 spin-off compendium, as any Potter fan knows, Fantastic Beasts is a famous text in the world of magic. Referenced in Philosopher’s Stone, this book-within-a-book was penned by Redmayne’s character, Newt Scamander, an employee at the British Ministry of Magic. Set in 1926, some 70 years ahead of Harry ever casting his first spell, the film shines a light on Newt long before he became a renowned ‘magizoologist’ (the study of mythical beasts) and put pen to paper.
The 34-year-old Redmayne, Oscar-winning actor from The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl, comes across as just as enthusiastic an ambass-ador for Rowling’s creation as Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry, once did. “I have a little brother who is six years younger than me, who was a bit obsessed, and he got me into the books,” he admits. “I found them just something you could dive into – it was extraordinary escapism.”
Certainly fans can rest assured that Fantastic Beasts is no conveyor-belt cash-in – with David Yates, the director of the final four Harry Potter films, at the helm and a script penned by Rowling herself (her first credited screenplay). “It’s both incredibly satisfying for anyone that’s been a Potter fan and it’s incredibly fresh,” comments Redmayne’s co-star Carmen Ejogo, who plays Seraphina Picquery, President of Magical Congress of the United States of America. Read More