It was a case of the right man for the job. Af­ter be­ing over­looked for Harry Pot­ter, Ed­die Red­mayne is J.K. Rowl­ing’s new lead­ing man

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - JAKE COYLE

Af­ter spend­ing two straight falls con­sumed by awards sea­son, Ed­die Red­mayne is tak­ing a break from the Os­cars and fronting his first fran­chise.

In the Harry Pot­ter pre­quel Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the man­tle of J.K. Rowl­ing’s lead­ing man has been passed from Rad­cliffe to Red­mayne. His Newt Sca­man­der also wields a wand, but he’s a hum­bler op­er­a­tor in the same mag­i­cal realm. Newt is a sheep­ish Brit ar­riv­ing in 1926 New York, with a leather case stuffed with won­drous but out­lawed crea­tures. Though the film, which also stars Colin Far­rell, Kather­ine Water­son and Dan Fogler, is an en­sem­ble, Red­mayne is un­doubt­edly the freck­led face of the new Pot­ter­ma­nia. It’s a new, high-pres­sured role for Red­mayne, an Os­car win­ner for his Stephen Hawk­ing in The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing and a nom­i­nee for The Dan­ish Girl. So is fa­ther­hood; in June, his wife, Han­nah Bagshawe, gave birth to their daugh­ter, Iris. Red­mayne chats about div­ing into Rowl­ing’s em­pire, the film’s mul­ti­cul­tural mes­sage and just how many movies he’s got­ten him­self into. Your first brush with the Harry Pot­ter world came much ear­lier, didn’t it? This is true. When I was at univer­sity, they were cast­ing the net quite wide for Tom Rid­dle, the young Volde­mort. I had got­ten an au­di­tion. I think I was see­ing the cast­ing di­rec­tor’s eighth as­sis­tant. I re­mem­ber sur­viv­ing about three and a half lines of the first scene be­fore I was shown the door. I imag­ine, be­ing a young ac­tor in Bri­tain, many of your con­tem­po­raries were find­ing their way in. I def­i­nitely thought hav­ing a slight gin­ger gene there must be some dis­tant rel­a­tive of a Weasley I could be. I had lots of friends – Robert Pat­tin­son did the film and then Domh­nall Glee­son played a Weasley. They would come back with won­der­ful tales. So how did Fan­tas­tic Beasts come to you? It came in the most won­der­fully cryp­tic, slightly sort of Harry Pot­ter-y way. I got a call say­ing that (di­rec­tor) David Yates wanted to meet. We met at a club called Blacks in Soho in Lon­don. I went down­stairs and I found David sit­ting by a roar­ing fire. And I have this lit­tle case, this GlobeTrot­ter case that I al­ways use as my work case. I think I was work­ing on The Dan­ish Girl so I came from there. He just gently started telling me this story and in­tro­duc­ing me to who Newt Sca­man­der was. And then he men­tioned this case that had this sort of Mary Pop­pins-like qual­ity. And I sub­tly pushed my case back. I was so mor­ti­fied that he might think I was that ac­tor who had turned up dressed as the char­ac­ter. What did Rowl­ing tell you about Newt? We had a dis­cus­sion for about an hour two weeks be­fore film­ing. It was the first time I met her. She told me where Newt came from in her imag­i­na­tion and as­pects of her own life. It was a re­ally won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tion and gal­vanis­ing con­ver­sa­tion. But it’s not one that’s re­ally my place to talk about be­cause it was per­sonal to her. The fan­tas­ti­cal beasts your char­ac­ter is se­cretly shep­herd­ing are deeply feared and banned in Amer­ica. The po­lit­i­cal sub­text is hard to miss. I find that in­ter­est­ing in what it rep­re­sents of things we don’t know, things we see as other that we just be­come ter­ri­fied of and dis­miss. Newt be­lieves, with the right ed­u­ca­tion for both wizards and the crea­tures, there’s a way to live har­mo­niously. I don’t feel like he’s a broad­caster. He’s do­ing it in his own gen­tle way. Rowl­ing has re­cently an­nounced she plans not three but five Fan­tas­tic Beasts films. Will you be around for all of them? In my heart of hearts, I don’t know. I’m con­tracted to a few more but they al­ways con­tract you to more in case you’re needed. But I think only Jo knows what the story is. What I feel, what I get the sense of, is that Newt and his case and the beasts are the cat­a­lyst and the en­trance – our eyes – into this much big­ger story that she wants to tell about good ver­sus evil. I would love to be a part of it as it moves for­ward – un­less I get killed off! Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where To Find Them opens to­day.

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