The Crimes Of Grindelwald cast assemble to spill secrets on witchcraft, wizardry and baby nifflers.
Despite the sweltering, sunny August weather, there is a palpable sense of dread hanging over the swanky Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, London. A pall of anxiety, a tangible tension. Is it the menace of Obscurus? Or the threat of Dumbledore arch-nemesis and baddie wizard, Grindelwald? Well, sort of.
With both ethereal dangers haunting the incoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and promising more peril and character introspection, there’s also another shadow hanging, phantom-like, over the cast as they gather with TF in a glossy suite on the third floor. That of J.K. Rowling’s displeasure or the fallout of breaking a contractually agreed code of silence if any of them should so much as hint at a plot development or talk specifics.
Eddie Redmayne does a nice line in answering (charmingly) a different question to the one you’ve asked. Ezra Miller deflects with tall tales about circus training and wide-eyed discussion of the Mandela Effect. “Whooops!” chastises Alison Sudol when she thinks Dan Fogler has inadvertently let a secret go (he hasn’t). “That was smart! I was totally about to answer that question!” finger-wags Zoë Kravitz when TF thinks she’s about to spill.
But, let’s agree – not knowing is part of the fun of J.K. Rowling’s sorcery world. So here’s what we do know: part two of a planned fivefilm arc sees returning magizoologist Newt Scamander (Redmayne) co-opted by Hogwarts’ headmaster, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), to help track down escaped dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who is on a crusade to take over the world. As Newt is drawn deeper into a dangerous fight for power, relationships are tested, lines are drawn and sides must be chosen. Oh, and nifflers have babies.
Let’s talk around that premise, shall we?
TF sits down with Law, Redmayne, Katherine Waterston (Newt’s MACUSA Auror friend and future wife, Tina Goldstein), Miller (Obscurial, Creedance Barebone), Claudia Kim (Maledictus Nigini, who can turn into a snake and will eventually become Voldemort’s pet and horcrux), Fogler (Jacob Kowalski, Newt’s no-maj mate), Sudol (Legilimens sister of Tina, Queenie), Callum Turner (Newt’s older war-hero brother and Brit Auror, Theseus) and Kravitz (former Newt love-interest and now fiancée of Theseus, Leta Lestrange)…
Glamorous locations (erm, not)
Eddie Redmayne Last time, the whole film was set in New York and we shot it all in Watford, just outside of London. So when Jude got cast, and I knew that the film was set in Paris, I emailed him going, “Mate, if you haven’t done your deal yet, will you just not sign it until you insist that they shoot some of it in Paris?” [laughs]
We tried and failed.
Jude Law I shot in Lacock [near] Bath. That was about it. Eddie Redmayne I got to go to Canning Town [in
London]. I was actually quite excited about that. I lived really close at the time so it was a very small commute.
Jude Law Eddie encouraged me to be open and playful. One great piece of advice he did give me was during one of our early scenes. We were trying to come up with a device that would help create an element of mystery. He reminded me I had a magic wand, and therefore could do whatever I wanted!
Katherine Waterston The special effects department always panics when the actors start coming up with, “Oh, I could just…” But that’s how we did the change in the first film, when we changed our outfits. Because I was an Auror, I thought it was like undercover work, so I’d need something so that I wouldn’t stand out as a detective. You sort of go up to [the special effects team] and say, “Could I just…”
Eddie Redmayne Can I tell a story? There was one moment on set when Jude – or Dumbledore – out of nowhere pulls an address card out of the air [as seen
in the latest trailer]. We got to rehearse the scene. We’re shooting it. We were going to do it, and Jude was like, “Can I have the card?” David [Yates, director] and the effects guys said, “Oh, no, no, guys, you don’t need the card. We’ll just put it in with visual effects.”
Jude was like, “Give me the card. I’ve spent the first three weeks training with a magician to fucking pull this card out of the air.” The look on his face when he was told they could just put it in, in post… He was like, “No way. That’s not happening.” I’ll have you know, he did it himself, and that’s the one in the film.
Zoë Kravitz It’s very easy to feel silly [working with CG], because the thing is, you have to commit 100 per cent, or it doesn’t look right. But you also feel so silly. I remember one day, it was me and Eddie, and we were fighting these creatures, and there’s nothing there. We were both – they call “action!”, and me and Eddie are like [makes fighting noises and waves arms
around]. And if you watch playback, you watch yourself struggling by yourself on the ground, and you’re just like, “I hope they put a creature there, or else it’s going to look really awkward!”
Taking on Dumbledore
Jude Law David [Yates] and Jo [Rowling] both gave me a huge amount of freedom right from the get-go, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that those two great actors [former Dumbledores Richard Harris and
Michael Gambon] were somewhat hanging over my head, even if it was just subconsciously. But in a way, you know, it’s a blessing. It’s very rare you play a part where you can close your eyes and picture your character as an older person. Knowing that that’s where he gets to… so I didn’t really feel restricted by it. [I was] more curious about things that we’ve all read in the novel. There’s things I read in the novel that I was able to demonstrate a bit more visually, the challenges that he’s going through as a man, as opposed to being an older man having resolved all of those issues, or at least put them to bed. I was able to physicalise them a little bit more, or emote them a little bit more. I was free – with impending doom!
Newt and Dumbledore
Jude Law There’s a certain element of master and apprentice, but I feel like Newt’s capacity to be himself against all odds is something that Dumbledore’s admired. Newt’s always sort of loved Dumbledore
– but there’s a moment when the kid is becoming the adult, and forgetting to question his motivations, and what his agenda is, and whether he’s going to speak cleanly to him. Quite often, in that way Dumbledore has, everything is through the gauze of caprice. I think the dynamic of Harry Potter and Dumbledore is… the age gap is far more accentuated. He allows Harry to grow up and he’s steering him, but at the same time he’s allowing him to make the discoveries himself. He’s aware there are certain things he can’t help him with, just because of his age, and that he has to grow up.
That’s not present in this relationship. I think it’s a much more mutual and balanced relationship. But at the same time, there’s still a certain amount of manipulation going on. And I think there’s also a huge amount of admiration. Without giving too much away, I think Albus in this film is dealing with a certain amount of his past and regret, and demons that he’s trying to deal with that have put him in a certain position. He sees in Newt someone who is pure and more upstanding. There’s a great line in it, which I’m going to paraphrase, which is to do with how Newt sees the good in all beasts and monsters. There’s a part of Albus that sees himself as a monster, and loves the fact that this companion is someone who’ll not judge that, and sort of see the good in him.
Newt and Tina
Katherine Waterston One of the most amazing things about being in this process with Jo is that she doesn’t short-change any of the characters. There’s time and room to grow throughout the entire series. Obviously, in the first film, I’ve been demoted at work, and then at the very end, I get my old job back. So that’s a big change for Tina. And she certainly has a great deal more confidence in this film than she did in the first. She was right about what was wrong in the first film, so she feels a little bit more confident in her instincts – and I think quite proud to have that position back, and to be doing what she thrives at doing. But it’s not all coming up roses for her, because there’s still some things keeping her on slightly unstable ground, because some boys aren’t always what they seem to be!
Eddie Redmayne It’s a bit like what Jude was saying about knowing who Dumbledore [becomes]. We all know that Tina and Newt live happily ever after, hopefully, in Dorset somewhere, I think. But at the same point, it’s about how you’re going to get there. Newt has always been very content in himself and his own world, after struggling to socially engage for so long. And throughout the last adventure, he connected with three people, and particularly Tina, and suddenly it’s opened up a whole chunk of his heart. At the beginning of the film, that’s all he wants, to regain that. But suddenly, all these things are put in his way…
Katherine Waterston I feel like it’s going to be Pickett for life for me. Eddie Redmayne I love how loyal you are.
Katherine Waterston No creature is going to top Pickett. He’s so expressive and tender.
Eddie Redmayne He has a tiny little face. There are baby nifflers in this new film and there’s a little scene where they’re just causing havoc, and Newt’s trying to recapture them. I worked with this woman, Alexandra Reynolds, who’s a dance choreographer. We looked at hacky sack. There are guys in the States and all over the world who, like you keep a football in the air – they do it with hacky sacks, and they catch them in all these places. So that was like my inspiration.
Alison Sudol We’re all very excited about the fact that everyone loved the niffler – I’m obsessed with the niffler. And then there’s babies! We’re all just… Dan Fogler They’re very cute. Really cute.
Alison Sudol I can’t deal.
Zoë Kravitz I love the baby nifflers! They’re so cute! I mean, the nifflers are cute, and then the baby niffler is even cuter. It’s going to make you swoon.
Dan Fogler There’s a really cool creature. It’s a Chinese lion dragon, the Zouwu. A long tail. They’ve mastered the fur. It just looks like it’s there. And it’s aggressive. I’m very excited about that one.
Joining the Potter universe
Zoë Kravitz I remember when the first book came out when I was in sixth grade or something. I just remember my whole school, it was all anyone talked about. I didn’t have Daniel Radcliffe on my wall…
Callum Turner I had Daniel Radcliffe on my wall. I can
say that! [laughs] It was really, really nerve-wracking [to join the project], but exciting at the same time. By day two, it felt like I’d been part of a family for years. It was lovely. I screen tested with Eddie, and kissed Eddie on the forehead in a scene. I think that’s why I got it. It wasn’t warranted in the scene. If in doubt, kiss Eddie!
Zoë Kravitz It’s so funny. I kissed Eddie in my screen test, too – no, I didn’t, really. [laughs] I taped myself at home, and then I did a Skype session with David and Eddie, where I had to read the scene. I got off that call and was like, “I’ve bombed that. That was so awkward.” But they brought me to London to screen test with Eddie. It was a long process.
Callum Turner Theseus is head Auror at the British Ministry Of Magic – it’s a tongue-twister! – and is really straight-laced. And Newt’s not. He’s the complete opposite, and he actually wants him to get in line and try to save the world. Because he knows he’s special, but he won’t do that. And that’s the tension. That’s what’s going on between the two brothers. A brother trying to boss his other brother around, basically! But I feel very lucky to be part of it. Privileged,
actually. I did the house sorting with my girlfriend and her friends – they all got Slytherin, and I got Hufflepuff. I was so annoyed.
Zoë Kravitz You’re not Slytherin!
Callum Turner Yeah, exactly. It’s very Hufflepuff of you.
Zoë Kravitz I’m Slytherin.
Perfecting an English accent
Zoë Kravitz I was very nervous, especially being around all English people and wanting to not make a fool of myself. But I worked really hard. I guess the key is not thinking about it while you’re doing it, so you can still be in the moment in terms of the emotion in the scene. So I tried to stay in the accent all day, and I would make myself do it at the weekends, getting coffee or getting in a taxi or whatever, just to keep it up or see if people could tell I wasn’t really British. But it was a great challenge, and I hope it sounds OK. Do I have a favourite English expression?
Callum Turner You like custard creams.
Zoë Kravitz That’s not an expression!
Callum Turner I introduced Zoë to custard creams right towards the end.
Zoë Kravitz And I was going crazy. They were like, “Where’s Zoë? Oh, over by the custard creams.” But I like that you guys say “brilliant” for everything. “Brilliant. It’s brilliant.” Or “fabby!” That’s what David [Yates] always says. If he likes a scene, he goes, “Fabby! Fabby!”
Training and injuries
Katherine Waterston Something I learned on the first film, there’s bits of wand work or stunts that we have to do that we practised for weeks. But sometimes, you get to a set, and they say, “Right, you’re going to tumble down these massive stairs and reach across here.” And you just have to do it that day.
Eddie Redmayne And there’s nothing you can do to prep for it, really. The weird injuries are still the same injuries. There was a bit where Callum and I were having to fend off some huge spell. The reality of shooting that is, one would be like [acts pushing an
invisible force]. You put so much tension into your arms to try to make it look like something is pushing against you. You do sort of wake up with the oddest injuries. Wand wrist and wizard’s elbow!
Ezra Miller We started with tightrope walking, and then we were juggling swords. We started swordswallowing. There was an injury, and it was really bad. We had to take a two-month hiatus from all circus training. And then we got back on those balls – you just walk on those balls. At the time, when Claudia had to do the lion stuff, I had to go and do a different esoteric training in the Alps. It’s a very particular cave where you can go. But you, of course, have to kill a zebra to get a map, and they’re endangered.
So I can’t recommend it to anyone else.
Claudia Kim [shaking head at Ezra’s fibs] So I worked with the movement coach that helped Eddie do that dance in the first movie. So that was really interesting. But I will say it’s more of an emotional journey that she led me into. I would love to say more…
Zoë Kravitz Yeah, I did mess up my arm at one point. Not anything serious, but you’re fooling around, and it’s easy to get hurt.
Jude Law What I loved about the Potter series was that it evolved into that. The darkness was allowed to bubble up over a period of films. And it’s that element I like about [Rowling’s] world in particular, that everyone has darkness, as we all do. I think it’s why it’s so relatable, that we all have demons.
It’s how you handle them and what you learn from them and what choices you make.
Zoë Kravitz Leta is a pureblood wizard, and she has a darkness to her, which in the film, you’ll see what that’s about, and where that comes from. And I just love the way that Jo writes these incredibly complex characters. No one’s good, no one’s bad. Everyone’s just human. Yeah, it’s really refreshing, as a woman especially, to get a character that has so many layers.
Ezra Miller Grindelwald deceives people by giving them popcorn ideologies that are instantly appealing or gratifying, or enforce their sense of identity. We’re all so void of purpose, I think, that we’re all really vulnerable to manipulation. Because we just want to feel like we have something to do on this dying planet.
And I think the same thing is happening on a broader scale with a certain type of thoughtless, political alignment.
Working with Johnny Depp
Jude Law Well, I’ve yet to work with him. It’s all hinted at in this one. I’m just looking in a mirror at him. Lovingly.
Katherine Waterston I didn’t encounter him too much. But I got to be sort of skulking around while he was giving this big speech [seen in the latest trailer].
It was amazing to see him work and his commitment to the work. It was probably 90 per cent extras while he was giving that speech.
Eddie Redmayne It was in this massive amphitheatre, it’s this huge rally. He’s having to seduce everyone with charisma. It’s interesting, because in film, you’re used to playing to cameras here [indicates close-up], and he was having to play to an audience of hundreds and hundreds of people [throws his arms wide]. It was extraordinarily compelling, and he had to do it again and again and again.
Jude Law I have to say, I’m so excited for the journey this film takes that character on. Because obviously Jo’s already created one of the great villains in cinematic history, and this guy is so different and just as threatening. And yet, like Voldemort, he’s seductive, too. It goes back to what we said before about everyone having demons. They’re always sort of seductive, too. It’s exciting. You’re in for a treat.
74 Callum Turner Did Zoë and I work with him?
I think that’s a… We can’t answer that, can we?
Zoë Kravitz Oh, yeah, it’s a spoiler. Sorry.
The introduction of Nagini
Claudia Kim I can tell you she’s the Maledictus… Ezra Miller Right there, you’ve got her gender identification and occupation. It’s a lot. I hope you’re paying attention. She’s the Maledictus. Go on…
Claudia Kim So, yes, she will one day permanently transform into a beast. She’s a circus performer. Her powers are exploited by the circus master. And I would think that she only dreams of freedom. And that is the very thing that Credence gives to her. It’s just incredible to see how excited the fans are, and they’re so incredibly knowledgeable, that all of their [Nagini] theories are so convincing.
Ezra Miller [laughs] Yeah. We’ve got a lot of fringe theories that honestly we wish were true. Do you know what I mean? We’ll be like, “Oh, that would be awesome.” We were like, “Jo, have you read this fan theory? Is that a good idea or what?” She’s like, “Nuh uh.” She’s got it all mapped.
Credence, suffering and survival
Ezra Miller Like all people who carry trauma, to figure out how to reconcile that with their life and identity, that’s the prayer of the Obscurus. When survivors do that they become incredibly powerful bodies and voices in this world. A lot of the people who have given us the greatest works in human history have come from a place of transforming their own trauma. We also know that it’s the kid who gets abused at home who often becomes the bully on the playground, and that there are cycles of abuse where you can fall into the patterns written into that trauma. I think that’s the metaphor at play with the Obscurus. Obviously we know that the Obscurial Credence is an anomaly in the sense that he shouldn’t have lived this long with this force inside of him. So we just don’t know what’s going to happen.
I think that what Jo has given people is a very useful and powerful metaphor, because it applies to all of us in some way or another. Our human power is repressed by the societies that we’ve created. And the cultural normative standards that exist within those societies I do feel prevent us from acknowledging and tapping our full potential of our human power.
I think we all react in different ways when we’re growing up, and adopting that conditioning. But there are definitely specific cases of humans all over this world who, because of that conditioning, they internalise the idea that that power is not OK. So they push it down into the shadows. And then the shadows themselves will come to call. They want that power. So it’s the idea that if you deny your calling, it will come for you with increasing violence and aggression. And I think it is a really powerful metaphor for people all over the world who feel like they cannot express their potency in their own social contexts, or in the societies in which they’re raised.
Ezra Miller It is being addressed! It’s a funny idea to me that every form of representation has to look the same. For me, personally, I find Dumbledore’s queerness extremely explicit in this film. I mean, all around. He sees Grindelwald, his young lover who’s the love of his life; he sees him in the Mirror of Erised. What does the Mirror of Erised show you? Nothing more than the most desperate desire of your heart. If that’s not explicitly gay, I don’t know what is.
I think it’s also really powerful to have characters who are fascinating, dynamic people, doing magical works in the world, and that the story does not only pertain to their sexuality. People have to also take a moment and acknowledge the gift that Jo Rowling gave us by writing one of the greatest characters in literary history, one of the most beloved characters across the whole spectrum of civil society, and the beliefs and ideologies there; one of the most beloved characters; and then, at the end of writing that series, was like, “Oh, yeah, and he’s gay. What? Step to me.” She is forever a god for that. But everybody chill. Why don’t you wait until you see the film before you start talking shit on Twitter? Or wait to make up your own mind about something for once in your life. Do your own research. Make up your own mind. Follow your heart, and really, really investigate situations before you identify yourself and pick a side, and start throwing things at the opposition.
Because that’s what’s totally screwing everything up right now. And it polarises us. We’re all human, and there’s a lot of things we can agree on. Yeah, I’m ranting…
Queenie and Jacob
Alison Sudol It’s complicated, right? We’re not supposed to know each other, let alone love each other. That’s very, very, very forbidden, in a very backwards system of the state’s magical law. So Queenie is not having that, basically. It’s so hard to find love. It’s so hard and so rare. But also, Jacob’s been through a lot of life that maybe Queenie hasn’t seen yet – of war, and of real division, and seeing the dangers that can happen in the world. So he’s much more conservative than she is. She’s very like, “Nope, I love you, and this is happening.”
Dan Fogler Jo’s written these iconic, classic hero’s journey characters. They just work, man. Like any relationship, it gets more complex as spells wear off, and wars are brewing. Things get crazy. And everyone’s got a wand. [Being a non-maj is] like being in a western without a pistol, you know? But Jacob is magical in his own right. My great-grandfather was a baker on the Lower East Side of New York, probably on the same street that we were emulating. And holy crap, that was weird, just to read it and be like, “I know this. This guy is like an ancestor.” So I think I’m being one of my grandfather’s brothers or something. I look like Uncle Manny.
Where do we go from here?
Dan Fogler I have an idea what’s going on in the next movie. But in the first movie, J.K. sat with some of us. She gave me the arc. She was like, “Here’s his arc for the entire five-episode run.” I was like, “Oh my God, this is the greatest journey in the world.” And then I came back for this [film]. We all met for a dinner at the beginning of rehearsals. I was just like so content. I was like, “Aha, I know everything that’s happening.” And then I just sat with Jo for a second. I was like, “I just wanted a recap. So just going into this one, we’ll be doing this and that’s going to happen…” And she was like, “Oh, no, that’s all changed.” “Damnit!” I don’t know what the method to her madness is, but maybe she’s just changed the whole thing. Now I’m like, I don’t want to get my hopes up or get too excited about it. It could be one storyline or one arc, it could anything.
Alison Sudol Yeah. She said one thing to me which I can’t repeat, which was such a giant bomb, but then didn’t say… You know when someone tells you half of something huge, and they’re like, “I can’t tell you the rest.” I harangued her. I was at the wrap party, and I was like, “Can you just a little… can you just elaborate a little bit?” She’s like, “Nope.” It’s kind of fun in that you don’t know what your future is. None of us know what our future is, right? Fantastic Beasts: the crimes OF Grindelwald Opens On 16 nOvemBer.