The Potterverse is growing...
It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling's wizarding world is alive and well. For those who haven't been able to catch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage, fear not, you can still get your Potter fix as later this year we're getting a spin-off movie set seventy years before the events of the first HP movie.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them might ring a bell for fans, as the title is inspired by a textbook that appears briefly in the original books/movies. But make no mistake, this isn't a tale about the boy wizard's ancestors. This is all about the Fantastic Beasts author, a magizoologist called Newt Scamander. It's his story that Rowling's script follows, as he journeys overseas to New York City where the magical community faces a zealous sect of No-Majs (the American term for Muggles) out to destroy them. Unlike witches and wizards of the UK, who haven't been persecuted by non-magical folk, in America this political struggle poses a very real threat.
There's a chance that Albus Dumbledore might show up, but for the most part, this is a wholly new creation. And that means a fresh set of characters to help - and hinder - our hero during his adventure. Want to know who they are? Click on and all will be revealed...
Eddie Redmayne is Newt Scamander
Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne is trading awards-bait for full-blown fantasy in the role of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who authored the revered Fantastic Beasts textbook seen at Hogwarts. While he’s probably very, very old when the events of the original movies take place, we won't see Redmayne playing a wizened crone through the magic of prosthetics. Nope. This jaunt goes back to the 1920s when a young Scamander ventures overseas to New York City, after getting kicked out of Hogwarts for being a bit of a scamp. Okay, he's more than a scamp, he "endangered human life." But somehow he still managed to wangle a job at the Ministry of Magic keeping magical creatures in check. That's also a surprise, as Redmayne says he's not a particularly astounding wizard.
His journey to the Big Apple becomes fraught after his suitcase, carrying a bunch of his fantastic beasts, is accidentally opened. The creatures run amok and it's up to Scamander to sort it out, which is a trifle difficult as he's not the biggest people person according to Redmayne. "He’s not particularly comfortable with human relationships. He’s comfortable in his own skin, but he disconnects with people,” the actor says. “He enjoys his solitude, and he’s also spent a year out in the field. So he really hasn’t had to deal with people." It's always the loners, isn't it?
Katherine Waterson is Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein
After first appearing on a shortlist alongside Elizabeth Debicki and Kate Upton, Katherine Waterston scored the role of Tina Goldstein. The up-and-coming actress, seen in Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs, and next year's Alien: Covenant, plays the part of a hard-working, straight-talking witch who befriends Newt.
She works at the US equivalent to the Ministry of Magic, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA, for short). Originally she worked as an Auror, which is the name given to witches and wizards who investigate dark arts crimes, but was demoted to a dull desk job after "she stood up for the wrong person" by using unauthorised magic. Tina lives with her sister Queenie, and is desperate to sink her teeth back into investigative work.
Dan Fogler is Jacob Kowalski
Nabbing most of the screentime in the first two trailers - after Eddie Redmayne, of course - is Dan Fogler. A stand-up comic who's dabbled with numerous voiceover gigs in animated movies like Kung Fu Panda, he'll be onscreen and larger-than-life as American No-Maj and aspiring baker, Jacob Kowalski. He becomes an ally of Newt's, and as the only main character who isn’t gifted with a wand, he helps him navigate the New York No-Maj scene while tending his own wounds after returning from the war.
"I'm Newt’s sherpa in New York, and I'm also the audience’s sherpa throughout the movie,” Fogler tells Vanity Fair. “Because I'm not familiar with magic, my reactions are very much how the audience would react to these things." He adds: "He’s got a big heart," before comparing his character to Ron Weasley; "they’re kind of cut from the same cloth."
Alison Sudol is Queenie Goldstein
Better known for her musical endeavours under the name A Fine Frenzy, Alison Sudol plays Tina's sister Queenie Goldstein. Even though she lives and works alongside her sibling at MACUSA, they're polar opposites. Where Tina is more reserved, Queenie is described as fun-loving witch who doesn't let things get in her way. While she too is chained to a desk job, that's not to say she's without a powerful skillset: she is a gifted Legilimens, the Potterverse equivalent of a mind reader.
“She’s basically a complete and utter magical empath," Sudol tells EW. "She’s able to read people - so it’s not just reading somebody’s thoughts. She’s can read into someone’s story, she can see people’s goals. And so even though she’s able to do magic with her wand, a lot of her magic is actually internal, which makes her a different type of wizard or witch." We've already met a character who possesses that same power in Severus Snape. But something tells us that Queenie's hardly the glum sort.
"She’s incredibly fun, playful, joyful, and free-spirited, kind and wise," Sudol continues, "and also has a sort of stillness about her because she’s always tuning into people, so she’s quite an interesting character to play — very vivacious and lively, yet very centered and aware.”
Colin Farrell is Percival Graves
Newt meets Colin Farrell's wizard Percival Graves in New York. An Auror who serves as MACUSA's Director of Magical Security, he's also the "right-hand man" of the American wizarding community's President. That's why he's entrusted with the task of tracking down young Scamander and holding him accountable when his beasts start running rampant.
Graves is a strict sort who takes his job seriously. But he's not the nicest guy around. He's got a manipulative streak, and after seeing what he can do in the recent trailer you probably wouldn't want to get on his bad side. This is one powerful wizard. For Farrell, the man who holds all the power is his director, David Yates. "[He] is an extraordinary man and filmmaker who kinda feels like a protector of the kingdom,” he explains to Coming Soon. “He’s so well-versed in the mythology of that world and has a deep affinity for the characters and the lore of it. He was great to be around.”
Ezra Miller is Credence Barebone
Justice League's Flash tones down the fast moves to play a shy character named Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts. We've only just had our first look at him, appearing rather reluctant to be sharing a back alley with Colin Farrell, and yet we still know very little about his role in Newt's adventure. An early casting report says he's a "rival of sorts" to Newt. We also know that he's the middle adopted child of Mary Lou Barebone, a staunch anti-magic extremist.
While Miller tells EW that he's unable to breathe a word about his character, the outlet revealed extra tidbits about Credence. He's “withdrawn, extremely shy and far more vulnerable than his two sisters," (whoever they might be!) and "defenseless" against the abuse from his mother who sounds like she'd do more than give you a stern look for traipsing mud onto the living room carpet. He's also a lonely figure, who becomes a person of interest for Percival Graves.
Samantha Morton is Mary Lou Barebone
Say hello to the new Voldemort! Sort of. All Potter films need a villainous element, and that's exactly what Samantha Morton provides in Fantastic Beasts. The British actress plays Mary Lou, leader of a No-Maj group out to destroy all witches and wizards. She sounds lovely doesn't she?
Mary Lou's group is the New Salem Philanthropic Society, described as "a radical organization... that wants to expose and kill wizards and witches by bringing about another Salem Witch Trials." Their posters can be spotted in a recent image that revealed Ezra Miller's character, her son Credence. As well as being a tyrannical leader without a jot of compassion, she's also in possession of a really scary haircut.
Carmen Ejogo is President Seraphina Picquery
A floor-to-ceiling portrait of her hangs in the lobby of the Magical Congress, and her headdresses rival anything Madonna wore in the ‘80s. Played by Selma's Carmen Ejogo, President Seraphina Picquery is the magical community's formidable leader. She will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe. "Magical beasts are terrorising No-Majs," she warns in the teaser. "When No-Majs are afraid, they attack. Contain this or it will mean war." That being said, the brief glimpses we've seen of her don't quite let on which side she's on. We might want to believe that she's a good guy, but we know that she's the boss of Colin Farrell's character Graves, who probably isn't.
Her reputation as a highly-skilled witch can be traced back throughout her early school days: she was the only witch in her generation to be offered a place in all four houses at Ilverymorny (the US equivalent of Hogwarts), before settling on the Horned Serpent.
"It’s been a lot of fun to come up with a look and a personality that has that element of other-worldliness, I’ve never had to do that before," Ejogo tells Pottermore, expanding on the character's obvious flair for fashion. "The costume for Seraphina has been this wonderful evolution in the hands of costume designer Colleen Atwood. She was great because she let me contribute. All of my rings, for example. I said to her that maybe [Seraphina] should have all these rings on her fingers."
Ron Perlman is Gnarlack
If there's one actor who does grizzled yet loveable well, it's Ron Perlman. You know, Hellboy. He's a real genre guy, turning up in most of Jean Pierre Jeunet's sci-fi outings as well as grounded grit like Sons of Anarchy.
Here he plays a goblin called Gnarlack. We don't really know a whole lot about him, except that he's a gangster who runs a New York speakeasy. His establishment is shown in the trailers as a wonderfully eccentric little place, that provides refuge for Newt and Tina at one point in the story.
Jon Voight is Henry Shaw, Sr
Jon Voight joins the cast as the No-Maj father of US Senator Henry Shaw. It appears as if Shaw senior is ramping up for a political campaign, as promo materials can be spotted all over the trailers. They read "Shaw: America's Future" with a portrait that actually... doesn't look anything like him. That'll be because it's really his son's campaign we're seeing, and he's played by someone else. We think that Shaw senior is probably an ally of Newt's, but that's a hunch more than anything.
We know for certain that one of his son's fundraising dinners is crashed by a Scamander beastie. Most shots of Shaw senior in the trailer are reactionary as he can be seen at numerous points wearing a shocked expression.
Jenn Murray is Chastity
Jenn Murray is best known for her work on UK television, yet she's since made the big screen leap appearing in period pieces Brooklyn, Love and Friendship, and Testament of Youth. Her part as Chastity is another that's being kept under wraps. During the casting announcement it was revealed to be a "key role", and she's said to share scenes with Ezra Miller's character Credence. That’s all we know so far - but speculating fans think she might be one of Mary Lou’s daughters.
Faith Wood-Blagrove is Modesty
The studio decided to cast an unknown in this mysterious part. After conducting an global search for a suitable young talent, Faith Wood-Blagrove won the role. Ten years old, the actress will play a character by the name of Modesty who we know very little about.
She appears momentarily in the first teaser trailer, in a blink-and-you'll miss it shot showing her throwing her arms in the air. Interestingly, she's also wearing a bald cap... or she's shaved her head. What might this mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Producers were on the look out for an actress "who could bring a 'haunted' character with 'inner strength and stillness' to life." What might that mean?
Zoe Kravitz is ?
A late addition to the cast, Mad Max: Fury Road's Zoe Kravitz was only announced after filming had wrapped. So who's she playing? The fact that her casting was revealed so late makes me think she's playing an entirely CGI character. Or, she filmed her role during principal photography, but her involvement was kept quiet. According to those initial reports she "has a small role in the first Fantastic Beasts film, but there's the possibility for her to return with a meatier part in the sequel."
Gemma Chan is ?
Humans star Gemma Chan was announced way back when Jon Voight signed on. While he's been seen mouth agape in every trailer, we've seen nothing yet of Chan. The same went for Ron Perlman's character who is in the trailer, but you know, he's a goblin, so his appearance wasn't made immediately obvious. Could it be that Chan is also playing a similar CGI role?