There may have been no per­son more ex­cited for Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald than Dan Fogler. While Ed­die Red­mayne and Kather­ine Water­ston weaved their magic as lead Newt Sca­man­der and Tina Gold­stein in Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fogler’s Ja­cob Kowal­ski was the au­di­ence’s sur­ro­gate.

The 42-year-old, Brook­lyn-born ac­tor, who boasts a long list of voic­ing cred­its (Kung Fu Panda, Mars Needs Moms to name two) and an ar­ray of tele­vi­sion and film cred­its, was the man re­spon­si­ble for ex­pand­ing our world. A reg­u­lar guy who just wanted a loan to open a bak­ery in 1926 New York, Kowal­ski was whipped into the mag­i­cal world cour­tesy of Sca­man­der’s nu­mer­ous fan­tas­tic beasts.

But the flab­ber­gasted, clue­less “no-maj” (that’s a mug­gle for Harry Pot­ter fans, a be­ing with no mag­i­cal abil­ity) who plod­ded his way through the first story set in the wizard­ing world without Mr Pot­ter to guide us, is gone as Fogler re­vis­its a role for the first time in his two-decade on-screen ca­reer.

Kowal­ski’s mem­ory was erased at the end of Fan­tas­tic Beasts, but he is try­ing to get the gang back to­gether as Johnny Depp’s Grindel­wald, who es­caped cus­tody in one of Fan­tas­tic Beasts’ clos­ing scenes, wreaks havoc in the much darker se­quel as he en­acts his plan to erad­i­cate all non-mag­i­cal be­ings.

“I’ve never been in a se­quel be­fore so it’s re­ally cool to be able to con­tinue the growth of your char­ac­ter,” Fogler said.

“As long as they shave me down, give me a mous­tache and put me in that suit I can find him pretty easy. The char­ac­ter is very close to me or like a close rel­a­tive. I’m a New York born-and-bred guy. My fam­ily grew up on the lower east side of Brook­lyn. It’s in my blood, so play­ing this char­ac­ter is like stepping into a nice, fa­mil­iar set of shoes.

“With the help of Quee­nie (Tina’s sis­ter, played by Ali­son Su­dol, and Kowal­ski’s love in­ter­est) he is a lot more put to­gether I think. He’s a lit­tle less schluppy, his hair is more put to­gether, he’s wear­ing nicer clothes. He’s a lit­tle more suc­cess­ful in this one.

“He is help­ing the new char­ac­ter with a lot more con­fi­dence be­cause he’s been there in a lot of ways. The other thing that was fun to play is him not be­ing so flab­ber­gasted or in awe of the magic as he’s used to it. It was fun to be more off the cuff with cer­tain things.”

In an ef­fort to thwart Grindel­wald, Al­bus Dum­ble­dore (Jude Law) en­lists his for­mer stu­dent Newt, who agrees to help, un­aware of the dan­gers as the story leaves the United States for Europe.

Fogler has worked for decades, but 2016’s Fan­tas­tic Beasts launched the award-win­ning writer and direc­tor (for 2014’s Don Pey­ote) into a huge new world.

“Be­ing able to come on set, I’d never been in a gi­ant, movie fran­chise like this be­fore,” Fogler said. “This was the big­gest ... so for ex­am­ple, Jude Law, who has been in all sorts of stuff, is look­ing around go­ing ‘holy crap, they built Paris!’. When you have some­one who is a sea­soned pro who is in as awe as you are, it puts ev­ery­thing in per­spec­tive.

“It was a to­tal game-changer. This was a huge op­por­tu­nity to play some­one who was a com­plex, deep char­ac­ter who was close to my heart that I knew, if I did it right, I could knock it out of the park and show a side of my­self that no one has ever seen be­fore.

“There was a lot rid­ing on it. I knew I had it in me to do a great job and cre­ate a char­ac­ter peo­ple love. There was a lot of pres­sure as you just want to do well for the fans, you want it to be good enough to make more, you want them to like your char­ac­ter.

“Go­ing into this one was a lot less pres­sure and I had a blast stepping back into it.”

Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald opens on Thurs­day.

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