Cre­at­ing fan­tas­tic beasts

> Di­rec­tor David Yates takes on an­other wiz­ard­ing project with J.K. Rowl­ing on a Harry Pot­ter spin-off

The Sun (Malaysia) - - THE BIG PICTURE - Har­ryPot­ter

AFTER helm­ing the last four Harry Pot­ter films, David Yates look a break from the fran­chise. But he has not left the world cre­ated by J.K. Rowl­ing en­tirely, as he re­turns with Rowl­ing’s Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with the author mak­ing her screen­play de­but.

Fan­tas­tic Beasts is set in 1926 New York. Some­thing mys­te­ri­ous is leav­ing a path of de­struc­tion in the streets, threat­en­ing to ex­pose the wiz­ard­ing com­mu­nity to the Sec­ond Sale­mers, a fa­nat­i­cal fac­tion of No-Majs (American English for Mug­gles) who are bent on erad­i­cat­ing them.

The pow­er­ful, dark wiz­ard Gellert Grindel­wald, after wreak­ing havoc in Europe, has slipped away, and is now nowhere to be found.

Un­aware of the ris­ing ten­sions, Newt Sca­man­der (Ed­die Redmayne) ar­rives in the city to re­search and res­cue mag­i­cal crea­tures, some of which are hid­den in his leather suit­case.

When un­sus­pect­ing No-Maj Ja­cob Kowal­ski (Dan Fogler) in­ad­ver­tently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city, Newt must team up with for­mer Auror Tina Gold­stein (Kather­ine Water­ston) and her sis­ter Quee­nie (Ali­son Su­dol) to find the miss­ing beasts amidst the ris­ing ten­sion be­tween the wiz­ard­ing and No-Maj worlds.

In a ques­tion-and-an­swer tran­script pro­vided by Warner Bros, Yates talks about mak­ing this movie.

After four films, how did it feel to step back into Rowl­ing’s world? “It was like com­ing home ... There was some­thing won­der­fully fresh, in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant about the char­ac­ters and the sto­ry­telling, in J.K. Rowl­ing’s script – and its time and place res­onated with what we seem to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in our own world now.

“So, I came back, and brought back the best of the peo­ple I’d worked with in the past, like Stu­art Craig, who de­signed all of the Harry Pot­ter films, and now Fan­tas­tic Beasts; and Mark Day, who’s been my editor for 15 years.

“And then I in­tro­duced some new peo­ple into the group that I was ex­cited to work with – Philippe Rous­selot as di­rec­tor of photography, whose work is just mag­i­cal; and Colleen At­wood, an ex­tra­or­di­nary cos­tume de­signer I’ve ad­mired for many, many years.”

Which char­ac­ter res­onated with you per­son­ally when you read it for the first time? “I loved Newt Sca­man­der. I iden­ti­fied with his so­cial awk­ward­ness.

“As a kid grow­ing up in the north of Eng­land, I was shy and had a re­ally dif­fi­cult time fig­ur­ing out where I was in the world, and I turned to film­mak­ing, sto­ry­telling and mu­sic as a way to ex­press my­self.

“Those of us who feel a lit­tle bit awk­ward and are try­ing to fig­ure out who we are and how we in­te­grate, and try­ing to find our con­fi­dence, of­ten in­vest in some­thing cre­ative.

“Newt Sca­man­der is en­tirely fo­cused on pro­tect­ing and nur­tur­ing wild, mag­i­cal an­i­mals, so Newt, to me, was a kin­dred spirit.

“And I loved Ja­cob Kowal­ski. He’s an ev­ery­man; he’s got a big heart; he’s open; he be­lieves in the best of ev­ery­body.

“He’s a Mug­gle – or No-Maj in Amer­ica – in the sense that he’s not a wiz­ard, yet he drops into the wiz­ard­ing world and ac­cepts the joy of that world for all its dif­fer­ences and its idio­syn­cra­sies.

“So, those are the two char­ac­ters I re­lated to most.” re­source.

“But de­vel­op­ing a screen­play for a movie based on a book means that, inevitably, you’re edit­ing and shap­ing, re­fin­ing and dis­till­ing, and, over the course of this process, you let lots of things go that you loved in the book but which wouldn’t fit in the time­frame of a movie.

“With Fan­tas­tic Beasts ... you’re right at the source, so ev­ery­thing that gets put into the movie you’re fash­ion­ing di­rectly with its amaz­ing cre­ator.”

(from left) Yates di­rects Redmayne in the up­com­ing Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them (top and below, right).

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