Putting the fan­tas­tic in Fan­tas­tic Beasts, Ed­die Red­mayne spills the goss on the pop­u­lar film saga

He may be an Os­car win­ner, but Ed­die Red­mayne still can’t be­lieve his luck at star­ring in Fan­tas­tic Beasts

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Be­ing in the same class as Prince Wil­liam at school could prob­a­bly give some peo­ple a bit of an achieve­ment com­plex. Luck­ily, with a list of suc­cesses as long as Ed­die Red­mayne’s, it’s not a prob­lem.

Next month, the 36 year old re­turns to the Harry Pot­ter uni­verse in Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindel­wald, as the awk­ward but ad­ven­tur­ous wizard Newt Sca­man­der. For those unini­ti­ated in the wiz­ard­ing world, these films are set in 1920s New York be­fore Harry was even a twin­kle in his fa­ther’s eye. This se­quel to the hugely-suc­cess­ful Fan­tas­tic Beasts And Where to Find

Them sees Newt team up with a young Al­bus Dum­ble­dore (played by Jude Law) to take down an evil dark wizard.

Old Eto­nian Ed­die first came to our at­ten­tion as the dewy-eyed An­gel Clare in a BBC adap­ta­tion of Tess Of The

D’urbevilles. With his bee-stung lips and freck­led face, he could have slot­ted hap­pily into the role of “generic love in­ter­est”for the rest of his ca­reer. But nuh-uh: from creepy cowboys to world-renowned physi­cists, Ed nails ev­ery role. And, aside from all his ac­co­lades, he’s just a bloody nice guy. Ed­die met his wife Han­nah Bagshawe when they were at school (she was study­ing down the road). The pair had a sort of Wills and Kate ro­mance in re­verse. When Han­nah or­gan­ised a char­ity fash­ion show, plucky Ed­die vol­un­teered to walk the run­way… top­less. Over a decade later and they are mar­ried with two chil­dren: Iris, two, and seven-month-old Luke.

As a true Harry Pot­ter fan, Ed­die is more than thrilled to be a part of these beloved sto­ries. He said of the fran­chise, “I used to hear sto­ries about those movies, and how it felt like a fam­ily on set. I was al­ways mildly jeal­ous, to be hon­est.” Now lead­ing a for­mi­da­ble cast, Ed­die is well and truly one of the fam­ily…

It must feel pretty good to be Ed­die Red­mayne, right?

Some­times it feels like an em­bar­rass­ment of riches.

In what way? Mar­ried life? Work? Fa­ther­hood?

All of the above are bril­liant. Be­ing mar­ried is a dream come true.

What – if any­thing – can you tell us about the new Fan­tas­tic

Beasts movie?

In the first film, you sort of saw ref­er­ence or ref­er­ences made to a cou­ple of char­ac­ters, one of which was Dum­ble­dore, and Newt’s re­la­tion­ship with him. And the other was Leta Les­trange [Zoë Kravitz]. And one of the things that most ex­cited me about the script is see­ing how those two char­ac­ters, along with my brother, Th­e­seus – played by Cal­lum Turner –

how they come into the world. And, re­ally, this new world of Fan­tas­tic Beasts is aligned and kind of joined into the Pot­ter lore that we all know about.

What sur­prises do we have in store?

There are more charms and spells. Not ones that I can name, but quite of­ten, the charms and spells will come as a con­se­quence of some­thing be­ing needed within a set piece. Like, some­thing phys­i­cal that will come from a spell – and we’re like, “Oh, does a spell for that ex­ist?” And then about 20 peo­ple run off to the Harry Pot­ter en­cy­clo­pe­dias [to check] – and then, we hear from Jo [JK Rowl­ing, the author] about which one we’re al­lowed to use. There are new crea­tures as well – there are baby Nif­flers!

Nif­flers have to be the cutest mag­i­cal crea­ture go­ing – they must steal the show…

Oh, yes. It was prob­a­bly my fa­vorite scene to shoot, the baby Nif­flers. They caused havoc. It co­in­cided per­fectly with my fam­ily life – I had a 15-month-old at the time, and the baby Nif­flers re­tain many of the qual­i­ties of her. What’s lovely is Pick­ett [a Bowtruckle – ba­si­cally a stick in­sect with a per­son­al­ity], the Nif­fler and the ba­bies have re­turned along with new crea­tures. And they’re as unique and use­ful and dan­ger­ous and ex­cit­ing, if not more so than ones in the first film. So, it’s been won­der­ful, be­cause you have all these peo­ple in 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. And then you have Stu­art Craig [the film’s de­signer]. It’s such a col­lab­o­ra­tion of dif­fer­ent spir­its. So, I’ve re­ally en­joyed that side. And it was prop­erly ex­hil­a­rat­ing to get to see the new script, I sup­pose, al­most from a fan’s point of view. You’ll see where Jo has taken us.

What was your ini­tial re­ac­tion when you read the script?

It has such an in­tri­cacy to it. It has so many lay­ers. And it has so many jaw-drop­ping mo­ments. If you’re a Pot­ter fan… ba­si­cally, at the end, my jaw is on the floor, and I then have to start and read it all over again. There are lots of new char­ac­ters. They all have ex­traor­di­nar­ily del­i­cate and com­pli­cated arcs, so I went straight back and started all over again. I find it ab­so­lutely thrilling.

How has your char­ac­ter de­vel­oped?

They wanted to dig deeper into what David [Hey­man, pro­ducer] de­scribes as his “naugh­ti­ness”. His con­fi­dence in his own ca­pa­bil­i­ties, his lack of con­fi­dence with other peo­ple, his kind heart and prickly na­ture – how he stands up for what he be­lieves in. It’s a won­der­ful chal­lenge for me.

How col­lab­o­ra­tive was it with JK Rowl­ing?

I think she is the most for­mi­da­ble mind and imag­i­na­tion and, frankly, I wouldn’t want to in­ter­fere in that cre­ativ­ity. But what is ex­tra­or­di­nary is that she al­lows you own­er­ship of the char­ac­ters once they’re there. She’s in­cred­i­bly free at al­low­ing you to make sug­ges­tions and play­ing within that. It def­i­nitely feels like one of the most cre­ative sets I’ve ever been on at al­low­ing us free­dom to in­ves­ti­gate.

A lot of our favourite char­ac­ters have re­turned, but there are also some new­bies…

It’s a re­ally won­der­ful core group of peo­ple from the last film who’ve re­turned. And what’s been so fan­tas­tic, as well, is each new per­son that comes into the film, comes with their own sense of ex­cite­ment. You know, see­ing Jude on day one with his wand go­ing, “It’s cool!” It’s so much fun. Ev­ery­one brings in a new en­ergy and a new way of look­ing at the

‘The baby Nif­flers were like my 15-month-old child’

thing. And so that is what keeps us tested and push­ing.

This time around, we get to see Jude Law take on the man­tle of Al­bus Dum­ble­dore. What has it been like work­ing with him?

It’s been re­ally won­der­ful. I’ve known Jude for many years so­cially and ad­mired his work, and when we got to act to­gether, it was re­ally play­ful. He has that sort of twin­kle in his eye that Dum­ble­dore al­ways has, which I think is so im­por­tant in the de­pic­tions of Dum­ble­dore in the films, and cer­tainly was re­ally im­por­tant to JK Rowl­ing.

And what about Johnny Depp [Grindel­wald]?

I’m so ex­cited for Johnny to come and do that again. I got to do one scene with him last time, and it was so mo­men­tary and so top se­cret. Yeah, it’s ex­cit­ing.

Ev­ery­thing seems to be su­per-top se­cret about these films…

The first thing I saw of this script were the bits used for au­di­tion scenes. And it’s so funny be­cause you get sent these scenes and all the char­ac­ters’ names are changed. I found this out yes­ter­day. It was so top se­cret on the set that the wardrobe de­part­ment weren’t al­lowed to write the char­ac­ters’ names on their cos­tumes. So, Newt is Good Guy and Dum­ble­dore is Very Good Guy.

Does Newt go on more ad­ven­tures with Ja­cob [Dan Fogler]?

The ac­tion ends up in Paris, it’s where the ma­jor part of the film takes place. And there is a point in the movie where Ja­cob and Newt meet up and it’s quite clear they have to go on an ad­ven­ture in Paris. One of the things I en­joyed most about the first film was – not only how Jo had writ­ten Ja­cob – but Dan’s genius through improvising and play­ing. There’s so much of that and I love it be­cause, he al­ways de­scribed it as sort of this Lau­rel-and­hardy kind of re­la­tion­ship. But it was un­like any­thing I’d ever had to play, and it’s been won­der­ful. I think the in­ter­est­ing thing is that this film you re­ally get in­side the psy­chol­ogy of the char­ac­ters more, and it’s a darker place.

We got a hint of a love in­ter­est with Zoë Krav­tiz’s char­ac­ter in the first film and Newt is pretty pop­u­lar with the ladies – why do you think that is?

Firstly, I think it’s his un­aware­ness. And se­condly, I think it’s his pas­sion. I al­ways find that when some­one is pas­sion­ate about any­thing, it’s al­ways an at­trac­tive qual­ity. And par­tic­u­larly when it’s not in need of ap­proval. I think that he has a very large heart. I think he has great em­pa­thy. There was orig­i­nally this scene that was him try­ing to deal with fame, ba­si­cally. With all these scream­ing girls, which he was to­tally strug­gling with. That scene didn’t make it into the film, though. ■

Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindel­wald is in cin­e­mas from 16 No­vem­ber

As Newt in Fan­tas­tic Beasts

With his wife Han­nah Bagshawe

With Fan­tas­tic Beasts cre­ator JK Rowl­ing

Rooftop scenes with Jude Law in Paris

Show­ing off his red mane in The Dan­ish Girl

We’re baby Nif­flers

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