Beasts are let loose

JK Rowl­ing casts her spell again in spin-off movie

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

Au­thor JK Rowl­ing’s won­der­ful, wiz­ard­ing world re­turns to the big screen in Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This spin-off story goes back a few decades to fol­low Newt Sca­man­der’s ad­ven­tures in New York. The ma­g­i­zo­ol­o­gist, played by Eddie Red­mayne, is an ex­pert in mag­i­cal crea­tures and the fu­ture au­thor of one of Harry Pot­ter’s school­books.

In 1926 New York, some­thing mys­te­ri­ous is leav­ing a path of de­struc­tion in the streets that is threat­en­ing to ex­pose the wiz­ard­ing com­mu­nity. After be­ing in the field around the world, the in­tro­verted Newt keeps some fan­tas­ti­cal crea­tures in his de­cep­tively nor­mal suit­case, but non-mag­i­cal Ja­cob Kowal­ski (Dan Fol­ger) ac­ci­den­tally lets them out, which is a breach of mag­i­cal law.

Newt, Ja­cob and former witch po­lice Tina Gold­stein (Kather­ine Water­ston) band to­gether to find the beasts, but their mis­sion puts them on a col­li­sion course with dark forces that could push the two worlds to the brink of war.

At the helm of the movie is David Yates (inset), who di­rected four Harry Pot­ter films. The movie also marks Rowl­ing’s screen­writ­ing de­but.

Yates says it feels like a homecoming. “There was some­thing won­der­fully fresh, in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant about the char­ac­ters and the sto­ry­telling in JK’s script – and its time and place res­onated with what we seem to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in our own world now,” he says. “What was very ex­cit­ing was be­ing able to de­velop the screen­play di­rectly with Jo. With the Pot­ter movies, we al­ways had the book as the source ma­te­rial – and it was an amaz­ing re­source. “With Fan­tas­tic Beasts, you go through the process of de­vel­op­ing the ma­te­rial, but Jo is writ­ing the movie. You’re right at the source, so ev­ery­thing that gets put into the movie you’re fash­ion­ing di­rectly with its amaz­ing cre­ator, and the ma­te­rial just flows out of her.” Yates says he iden­ti­fied with Newt’s so­cial awk­ward­ness, and his top choice for the part was Os­car-win­ner Red­mayne, whom he de­scribes as a soul­ful ac­tor.

Red­mayne talks about how he pre­pared to play his char­ac­ter: “Newt was won­der­fully well de­fined on the page and then it was about hear­ing where Newt came from in JK’s imag­i­na­tion. She wrote that Newt walks his own walk and that he has a Buster Keaton-es­eque qual­ity.

“So I met a man who tracks an­i­mals for a liv­ing, and he said that if you are try­ing to be ab­so­lutely silent, you turn your feet out. So I brought in that open-toed stance, which was great un­til I had to do stunts run­ning like that and I kept pulling mus­cles.”

The cast loved it when­ever Rowl­ing popped by the pro­duc­tion set to talk about the char­ac­ters’ back sto­ries and where she sees them in the fu­ture. It was re­ported there will be se­quels to the Fan­tas­tic Beasts fran­chise. But a real defin­ing mo­ment for Red­mayne was be­ing in­volved in de­sign­ing Newt’s wand.

“The first mo­ment I got to pick up a wand was that mo­ment of wish ful­fil­ment you never thought you’d have. And then I got com­plete stage fright be­cause I re­alised I had no idea what to do with it,” he laughs.

In UAE cine­mas to­mor­row

MAGIC: Eddie Red­mayne (main image, cen­tre) is wiz­ard Newt Sca­man­der. The cast also in­cludes Ezra Miller and Colin Far­rell (right)

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