17 Revelations About Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Straight From the Set
When the onscreen Harry Potter franchise ended its illustrious run in 2011, many fans of J.K. Rowling's story went into immediate mourning; sure we all still have the books to keep us company, but seeing that marvelous, magical world up on the big screen every few years brought with it a special kind of joy. That's what made the hype around the 2016 film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them simultaneously so strong and also a little hesitant — could it live up to its predecessors? As you hopefully know by now, it does . . . and then some.
Now we find ourselves just a few short weeks away from the premiere of its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. So far, the second film has been mired in a bit of controversy, courtesy of star Johnny Depp, who plays titular villain Gellert Grindelwald. But when I visited the sequel's set outside of London late last year, spirits were high, for good reason: the cast and crew were in the midst of creating some serious magic. The second movie in the five-part series aims to be even more dazzling than the first, which was confirmed to me repeatedly by stars like Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, and Callum Turner, as well as director David Yates.
David Yates Describes It as a "Political Thriller and Love Story"
Director David Yates described the script as an "interesting synthesis between a sort of political thriller and love story," noting that it's "a sort of fusion of genres." That aspect is hopefully what will differentiate this series from the original Harry Potter films.
"Fundamentally, it's a kind of love story, but it has a really interesting thriller-esque sort of vibe to it as well," he continued. "The thing about [J.K. Rowling's] books and movies is they're always very generous. You know, they combined a number of genres. In one way, they're funny, they're emotional, they have a fantastical element, obviously. They can be quite dramatic. So, this movie is no exception. It's a really rich meal."
Credence Is a Ticking Time Bomb
If you've seen the first film in the franchise, then you know things don't necessarily end well for Ezra Miller's Credence — his character is essentially blown to smithereens. That's what makes his reappearance in the sequel so exciting. But his return also comes with a great deal of emotional and physical issues to sort through.
"I would say that he is both free and burdened in new ways. Obviously, there is an element of self-awareness that brings both of those factors into play," Miller told the group of reporters between takes. "He's free of a lot of the confines he's known, and he's free of a certain sense of uncertainty that he's known. But with the consciousness of his reality comes also heavy burdens, and obviously he's a bit of a ticking time bomb, given his particular magical condition."
Miller went on to note that Credence has "a burning need to know more about who he actually is," and that the sequel will hopefully offer audiences a much-needed chance to truly get to know the tortured soul within him. "Obviously, he's had a very fragmented experience up to this point. So this quest for identity I can't relate to at all," Miller said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "No one knows what that's like to try and figure out who you are. It's obscure, you know?"
Credence Is Also Rocking Some Serious Scars
When Miller walked into the interview, he was dressed in a shabby leather and tweed jacket with plaid pants. Oh, and he was also flaunting some serious prosthetic scars on his neck and a partially shaved head. His responses to the reasons for the scarring were cagey, but he did give us a few hints about what was up with Credence's new physical ailments. "I mean, there's been a lot of wounding for Credence," he said. "There's a lot of sources of the wounds, obviously. . . . He's been through a lot. He's been through the mill in this one."
The Casting For Newt Scamander's Brother Is Spot On
Newt Scamander's family is expanding! The magizoologist's brother, Theseus, is introduced in the sequel, played by actor Callum Turner, who bears a pretty strong resemblance to Eddie Redmayne. That fact, in particular, hasn't gone unnoticed by the star. "I was watching War and Peace. I don't know if you guys saw that, which he was in. My wife and I were watching and he turned up on screen, and literally, both Hannah and I [said,] 'That's like a taller, darker, better-looking version of me!'" he laughed. "So when David was auditioning people for that part and said, 'I want you to test with this actor,' and Callum walked in, I was like, 'Holy sh*t.'"
Joke's aside, Redmayne calls working with Turner "really fantastic," and he praised Rowling's interpretation of the character, which has shifted since she first wrote the script. "How Jo had written Callum's character in this film vs. how he's mined that material I think has changed her opinion of where she might take him," Redmayne revealed. "And that's so exciting for us . . . it's lovely to feel like you're an active part of something."
Callum Turner Felt an Immediate Connection to Eddie Redmayne
One of the sequel's most exciting new characters is, undeniably, Theseus. He and Newt are total opposites in all aspects of life, despite their physical similarities.
"He's gone through the same schooling [as Newt], obviously, but once he got out, he decided that the establishment was the way to fight the good fight," Turner explained. "Theseus is quite more rigid, or just part of the establishment. You know, he's the head Auror at the Ministry."
In addition to looking the part, Turner suspects he nabbed the role of Theseus because of a very endearing moment during the casting process.
"It was kind of the normal process of going in with Fiona Weir, who is the casting director, and then having a second meeting with David [Yates], and then having a third with Eddie, which I was really, really excited about," he recalled. "I was very impressed and inspired by the [career] choices that [Eddie] makes. He's always made really good choices, so I was over the moon to just go and meet him. I actually did this weird thing on the first take. There's this scene, and, umm . . . well, I just kissed him on the head. We weren't even recording. It's not in the movie. There's no reason for me to have done it, but yeah. I think that's probably why I got the part."
Newt and Tina's Relationship Will Hit a Few Bumps
Redmayne said that Newt and Tina, played by Katherine Waterston, have "a misunderstanding" and "various miscommunications" that lead to some tension in their relationship. There's also the matter of Newt's new assistant, Bunty, who has an unrequited love for him.
"I think it's his unawareness. And secondly, I think it's his passion," Redmayne said of why women are drawn to the character. "I always find that when someone is passionate about anything, it's always an attractive quality . . . and I think he has a very large heart. He has great empathy."
The Sequel Will Explore Grindelwald’s Abusive Hold on Credence
Miller had quite a bit to say about the abusive relationship between Grindelwald and Credence, the former of whom takes advantage of the latter in the first film:
"I definitely felt, personally, that a lot of the exploration with Credence revolved around the idea of abuse and some of the different ways that trauma can happen to a young person. I see that in a lot of the exploration of Credence. Something interesting about sort of this idea of light and dark magic, and it's alluded to many times in this series, is that love is a form of light magic, right? And so Grindelwald's manipulation of love, targeting that deficit that he could perceive in Credence, is a form of abuse. You could also say it's a form of dark magic to wield power over that human need."
Credence Finds a Home in the Circus Arcanus
The trailer for The Crimes of Grindelwald might focus on Dumbledore and Grindelwald's beef, but it also introduces a dazzling — and disturbing — new addition to J.K. Rowling's world: a circus. While speaking to Miller, he revealed that despite the darkness lurking within the traveling show, Credence is able to find a home there.
"The histories of sideshows are disturbing ones. This era . . . that world would have been a world of a lot of heavy exploitation. Definitely some animal cruelty. At the very least, PETA would have been displeased," he joked. "We heard in Credence's narrative in the first film the derogatory term 'freak' thrown at him in a way that was deeply effective, right? I find it really interesting that we find him here in a sideshow, in a 'freak show,' as they were known."
Newt and Jacob's Buddy Comedy Routine Will Continue
According to Redmayne, there is a point in the movie when Jacob and Newt meet up and "it's quite clear they have to go on an adventure to Paris," as all friends do. He gushed about costar Dan Fogler's "genius," saying that he "takes it to another level through improvising and playing."
"I love it because it's always described as sort of this Laurel and Hardy style kind of relationship," he continued. "But it was unlike anything I'd ever had to play, and it's been really wonderful."
Leta Lestrange Is Probably Going to Be Your New Favorite Character
Producer David Heyman calls Leta Lestrange, played by Zoë Kravitz, one of the film's most "fantastic" new characters. "She's complex and rich and charismatic," he said. "Zoë is bringing color and shade to the part that, I think, elevates it even further. She is a wonderful character, who is, like so many of Jo's characters, sort of trying to come to terms with who they are."
. . . Meanwhile, Grindelwald Will Be Your LEAST Favorite Character
The last few minutes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them unveils a startling twist about Grindelwald, and the sequel offers him a chance to be fully fleshed out by actor Johnny Depp. Regardless of how you feel about the controversy surrounding his casting, you can expect the character to be quite chilling.
"He's a really scary [villain]," David Heyman told us. "He has the power of persuasion. He's very seductive. He can make people follow him because he is as persuasive as he is. He's incredibly charismatic. He's wonderfully amoral. Or awfully amoral, depending on which way you look at it. Wonderful for a delicious villain."
While he appears to have more of his humanity than He Who Must Not Be Named — he has a nose, after all — it seems his ruling style has more in common with real-life political figures.
"He's an absolutist," Heyman added. "He sees only one path. He believes in superiority of wizardkind over humankind and makes a very persuasive case for that. Not one that I am prepared to follow. Not one I suspect you're prepared to follow. But you can understand why some people do, and that's really, really scary."
One Creature, in Particular, Reminded Eddie Redmayne of His New Baby
Both new and old creatures will pop up on screen during the sequel, but if you're wondering which Eddie Redmayne is most excited about, wonder no more: baby Nifflers.
"It's probably been my favorite scene to shoot so far, the baby Nifflers. They're just causing havoc, and it coincided with the time that I have a 15-month-old child, and the baby Nifflers retain many of the qualities of my 15-month-old," he laughed. "It's been wonderful. It's so lovely because you have the [visual] effects department, who are sort of actors in themselves, coming up with ideas. You then have Jo's book and how she imagined them . . . it's such a collaboration of different spirits."
Political Themes Were Hard to Avoid
"If you're making a movie, ultimately you can't help but be sensitive to the world in which you create it," Yates said of the filming process. "It influences you every single day, influenced Jo when she was writing the script, influences us as we put the whole story together . . . but the themes, I think, are kind of universal and archetypal and timeless. Rather than a direct political sort of counterpoint or context, it's really about the values of tolerance and understanding and a celebration of diversity."
Yates went on to note that while the degradation of real-life society's value on celebrating said themes is "slightly scary," he has hope for the message at the core of the film. "What's wonderful is that, you know, we're making a movie that will be seen by millions of people and millions of young people, and we're making a story that celebrates tolerance, acceptance of the other."
What to Expect From Young (Hot) Dumbledore
Are you ready to feel wildly confused about your newfound attraction to Albus Dumbledore? Hopefully so, because Yates describes the character, played by Jude Law, as "quite a rebel" and "quite complicated." But there's also a dark edge to the beloved character that diehard fans will likely recognize.
"He's far from perfect. He's an inspiring teacher, and all the pupils love him. But as ever, being Dumbledore, he's a wonderful manipulator, and he has this incredible ability to sort of maneuver people into situations that they may not want to be maneuvered into," Yates continued. "Jude brings this amazing freshness and sexiness and sensuality and wit and charisma to the role."
The Sequel Will Introduce — Gasp! — Sex
Before you get any ideas, no — we're probably not going to see any love scenes in the Fantastic Beasts universe anytime soon. But according to director David Yates, this is a much more sensual film, broaching emotional ground that other films in this series and the Harry Potter franchise don't touch on.
"We didn't really have sensuality or sexuality in any of the Potters, or even the first Fantastic Beasts. We had these grown-ups, but ultimately these grown-ups are really like big kids in a grown-up world," he said. "This is a slightly more sensual film because it is a love story. There's a sense of sensuality between the characters, which is lovely, actually. It feels like everything's growing up and getting a bit more sophisticated."
The French Ministry of Magic Is Astounding
Upon walking into the set for the French Ministry of Magic, the reporters in my group (myself included) couldn't help but gasp. It's a gorgeous set with soaring ceilings and impeccable attention to detail. Unsurprisingly, it's David Heyman's favorite set in the entire film.
"The French Ministry is pretty bloody beautiful," he remarked. "I think it's one of Stuart [Craig]'s most beautiful sets . . . the detail, the filigree. Also, just from a practical point of view, how it's been multipurpose. Because we go into different parts of the French Ministry, and we've had to repurpose one set for different levels . . . we even used it for the Ministry of Magic in London. It feels extraordinarily magical."
The Actors Are Apparently Just as in the Dark as We Are
Rowling and the studio confirmed that there will be five movies in this franchise, all taking place in different cities. It's not hard to imagine that Rowling has the bulk of the story mapped out, if not 100 percent of it, but that's not something the actors are privy to. Miller told us that although some people who are "playing out longer arcs" get to "get a little bit of divination going" in order to know how to play their roles, they're mostly in the dark.
"Sometimes we're given glimpses into the crystal ball by, you know, the metaphorical Professor Trelawney," he joked. "I find [the process] really engaging, and I think everyone's sort of along for the ride, anxious to know more about the story that we're all telling together."
As for Redmayne, he wouldn't change a thing about how Rowling operates. "I think she is the most formidable mind and imagination, frankly, and I wouldn't want to interfere in that creativity," he said. "But what is extraordinary is that she allows you ownership of the characters once they're there . . . she's incredibly free . . . it definitely feels like one of the most creative sets I've ever been on, allowing us freedom to investigate."
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald arrives in theaters on Nov. 16.