‘Fantastic Beasts’ Duo Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol Reunited at LeakyCon 2018!

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Aug 22, 2018

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

Actor Interviews, BigNews, Events, Exclusives, Fan Events, Fandom, Fans, Fantastic Beasts, Films, Fogler, Fun, Interviews, J.K. Rowling, Leaky, LeakyCon, Movies, News, Potter News, Redmayne, Sudol, Yates

Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol, who portray one of our favorite onscreen couples in the Fantastic Beasts film series, reunited on the MainStage at LeakyCon 2018 in Dallas. The panel, moderated by LeakyCon founder Melissa Anelli, treated fans to a wide-ranging discussion and, thanks to Leaky correspondent Kathy Paz, readers can catch up on every detail below. It’s not quite as immersive as experiencing the recollections through a pensieve, but the coverage is definitely as magical and thorough!

Devon Murray Panel + Exclusive Interview    |    Alison Sudol Panel   |  Acting As A Young Wizard & Antagonists Panels   |   Chris Rankin Panel


Dan, now known to Potter fans the world over as the indefatigable No-Maj with a heart of gold, Jacob Kowalski, entered the panel first. He was followed by his costar and, he might say, better half, Alison Sudol, who plays the head-turning legilimens, Queenie Goldstein. As the took their seats in front of the massive Leaky Cauldron, they both marveled at the size of the attending crowd, and Alison graciously thanked them for waiting since 7:30 a.m. Dan interjected to ask if they were all staying at his hotel and waiting in line with him for coffee that morning, jokingly suggesting he ought to run out and get a cup now!

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The banter between Alison and Dan set the crowd at ease and set Melissa up for the perfect panel intro, commenting on how they seemed so amazed and humbled by the crowd even though Fantastic Beasts is a certified global phenomenon. She asked what keeps it so real for them, and Alison immediately replied, “Life keeps it real,” explaining that her puppy pooped in the middle of the hotel lobby! (She’s responsible pet owner, though, and had a bag…)

Melissa noted that both have expressed having nerves in front of large crowds, and Dan agreed but observed that the fandom, in all its vastness, is lovely, saying, “That’s a lot of people and it’s beautiful. It’s all Harry Potter themed and this is it!” Alison said that she also gets nervous when performing her music on stage, feeling like she’s going to die, and then everything ends up being fine. (At this point, Dan wanted to crowd surf, but Melissa said Warner Bros. would kill them!)

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Bringing it back to the beginning of their journey, Melissa wanted to know about their casting process. Alison said that she was cast only days before Dan, like the twin who “came out first.” An audience member chipped in, “Awkward twins!” and Dan replied, “Like the Twins movie.”

Alison then expounded on her audition, saying:

“I didn’t actually think I was auditioning for Harry Potter at first. I was told by this extraordinary casting director Fiona Weir who was in London, ‘There’s this project-it’s in the people who did Harry Potter and I’m going to need you to sign an NDA.’ She said it was about witches and I thought it was about Salem and then she told me about this character Queenie and I fell in love with her empathy and her warmth, and anyway, I came back the next day and felt like I ruined the audition. I knew by this time it was for the Potterverse and I started to lose my mind cause I’m a big Potter fan (to big applause) and I thought I should never act again after that audition. Then a few weeks later I got a call there was going to be a screen test in New York and I didn’t know that would be the process. We were all in a hotel for two days doing chemistry reads. Dan wasn’t there yet. Then I went to England. They still weren’t sure about me.”

(Dan interrupted to say that he loved the anecdote–told in full at Alison’s panel here–about Alison braiding Katherine’s hair during an audition, which fostered the sisterly rapport between the two.)

Alison continued:

“They brought me to England and tried 1000 wigs on me to see if I could be Queenie. On the the last day they brought Dan in. I didn’t know I had the role yet. They brought you in and you were wearing cut off gloves and you had a crazy beard. You looked like a furry Hobbit but you were magical. You were really wonderful and so charming. You were great and the chemistry was there.”

On his own audition experience, Dan recounted:

“I remember my screen test and you were there and you were all in black and you had black hair and you looked like Bebe Neuwirth from her Cheers days and I thought, ‘This is a lovely looking individual.’ I also met Eddie that day for a screen test and what I noticed about him was he was like nine feet tall and he was so lovely.”

Dan revealed that he wore a ‘Chaplain-era tramp’ costume all through his auditions and screen tests to help put him in character until David Yates said–“No more–you don’t need to wear that”! Alison observed that he did look ‘more tramp than Hobbit’, and Dan did a great impression of David Yates, before adding that he loves David. Dan recalled that Yates would say something gracious like, “It’s fabulous–take it down 80 percent.”

Alison then commented on Yates’ ability to connect with the actors and simplify the process for them, saying:

“He’s got this wonderful ability when dealing with these huge sets and the beasts doing wild and mad things everywhere and sometimes hundreds and hundreds of extras but he always brings it back to the heart of these characters and the intimacy of the moment. Sometimes as an actor you can be in this place and you think you have to be razzle-dazzle, and he said, ‘Just be still, you’ll be fine’. Just a really heartening thing that I don’t have to match the size of this, I just have to be real and human or a human witch for some of us magical ones. It’s a sore spot for Dan that he doesn’t get a wand.”

Melissa offered to find Dan a wand at LeakyCon, but Alison quipped, “Do not give him a wand. He is a No-Maj.” Dan replied, to rumbles in the audience, “Hermione was a No-Maj wasn’t she?” Melissa clarified that Hermione was “Muggle-born, but she was a witch.” And Alison jumped in with the sweet: “Queenie loves Jacob just the way he is.”

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This led Melissa to comment on Queenie’s remarkable empathy, which is “so present and touching.” She asked if Alison thought that was because of what Queenie can feel and see immediately, or is it a process?

Alison answered thoughtfully:

“I think she’s got an excellent gauge of who someone is because she can read them and she really can tell when someone is a good person and Jacob is just wonderful through and through and such a deeply large-hearted individual, so I think that’s very clear and also, Dan is such a wonderful person, I don’t think his character would have the same heart played by someone else.”

Dan then explained the dynamic from his perspective, saying, “She hears people’s thoughts, right? She hears all his thoughts once and she thought, ‘He thinks nice!'” (“Is that your impression of me?” Alison laughs)

Taking her cue from Dan’s observation, Melissa referenced Queenie’s line from the first film: “Aw, don’t worry, honey. Most guys think what you was thinking, first time they see me,” alluding to what women commonly experience in their interactions with men.

Alison commented:

“Yeah it’s an interesting thing to tap into. She appears to be a very free-spirited, light-hearted individual, l but imagine if you could hear what everyone thought immediately and you are a woman who doesn’t want to be ashamed of her body. She isn’t really self-conscious. She gets a lot of thoughts that a very different person might completely turn in on themselves and crumble and it shows how strong of the spirit that she is that she still is so warm and loving but it can make her a bit lonely because she has to protect herself a little bit. Tina is also very protective of her. It’s tough as a woman, even the things people say, the looks people give can be intense sometimes. I realized recently there’s a reason I don’t wear shorts and short skirts out of the house. It sucks!”

In spite of that, Jacob’s thoughts and way of looking at the world clearly endeared him to Queenie, and that unique connection was something the two actors had to experiment with in their auditions. Dan explained they specifically tested with a scene that morphed from audition to film set, but the scene was, essentially, Jacob’s good-bye. Alison added that they didn’t have a script for it, they “just knew it was good-bye.”

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Dan went on:

“It was a very emotional goodbye between the two of them, and I just noticed that you can tell chemistry right away, if it’s working or not. Just between you. I felt good about it. I felt good about Eddie. I came out thinking I did my best there. I did a really good job connecting with these people. They auditioned everybody in Hollywood.”

Alison elaborated on her other screen tests as well, saying:

“I did screen tests with everyone and everyone brought a different quality. It was really interesting. They were just trying to find that magical chemistry between us. You had that physicality–this physical comedy side and it’s a complicated character. There has to be this sensitivity and this vulnerability but it’s deep and it’s not something that he leads with. It’s just who he is. And there has to be the physicality and the lightness and the strength and the sweetness. It’s a really fine line that you walk you’re like, ‘That’s what I do.’ It’s really amazing because it’s a very particular set of qualities and I noticed immediately that you were really confident and at ease in that and you made me laugh right off the bat. You were so funny and continue to do that and that was really nice to have even behind-the-scenes throughout filming especially if you got in your head.”

Dan sweetly replied:

“You look at her and she’s like, glowing. Some people have that quality and some people don’t. Meryl Streep has that quality. Luminescent skin, people. You have an effervescent soul that shines through your luminescent skin.”

Asked about stories on set, Alison told the audience that they sang Christmas Carols during the department store scene in Fantastic Beasts because they were a little loopy at that point in filming. Dan added that they destroyed the Macy’s set and had the most fun being dragged through the department store by the invisible Demiguise and smashing into things.

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He noted:

“Each scene has so many beautiful little JK-written delightful bits that you hope make it into-the best makes it into the film and you hope the other stuff makes it into the DVD extras because it’s so delightful.”

Alison added that one such moment was her duet with Katherine–found in the Fantastic Beasts extended and deleted scenes feature–singing the Ilvermorny song for Newt. She said, “I got to co-write the song with JK. It was a wonderful moment but there was no time to stop for a musical number.”

As to whether Jacob and Queenie might perform a duet, given the musical background of both Alison and Dan, Alison said maybe not in the film but possibly for fun, assuring Melissa, “Consider the seed planted.”

They went on to discuss Ilvermorny and Hogwarts houses. Alison revealed that she is Horned Serpent and would be a Gryffindor. Dan said he was a Hufflepuff in his heart and a Pukwudgie, to which Melissa added that she felt Jacob could be a Hufflepuff.

Melissa moved on to what’s coming up next for the busy pair, and Dan jumped in, rattling off, “I’m on The Walking Dead. I’m a character named Luke in season nine and it’s going to be intense. Right around the time the movie comes out my episodes air.” He also said he has a bunch of comic books coming out, Brooklyn Gladiator, Moon Lake and that he’ll be at New York Comic Con the first week in October! Dan also mentioned that Alison has joined him on his 4D Experience podcast.

Alison has music coming out next month and is very excited; she started a new label with her longtime manager is gently moving back into music and writing scripts.

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And finally, the moment in the panel the crowd was eagerly waiting for, Dan and Alison took questions from the audience:

First question: What was your favorite scene to film together?

Dan answered:

“The rain scene; everything was leading up to that scene and to get to perform it with her, the rain and the umbrella, it’s all very romantic, classic Hollywood moviemaking. So honored to be a part of it.”

Alison added:

“When we first met in the sister’s apartment. It was so early in filming, the first time they all got together and the first time Queenie sees Jacob. There’s something so sweet about it. The delight and the wonder. He was so sweaty! It was such a sweet moment for everyone.”

Second question: What would Queenie and Jacob’s Hogwarts houses have been if Jacob was magic?

Dan said that J.K. Rowling revealed Jacob would be a Gryffindor because he’s a soldier and a fighter. Alison did not know for sure, but she personally thought Queenie would be in the same house as Jacob, hanging out in the common room.

Third question: (Came from a mother whose daughter stayed home but has a fascination with Eddie and wanted to hear a story about him that they could share):

Alison prefaced her answer by explaining that her story was from an exciting and challenging Crimes of Grindelwald scene–that she obviously couldn’t talk about–but after the scene ended:

“There was a scene I was in that was quite an emotional scene. And it was quite hard on me… I was really down on myself and really sad and I came to the makeup trailer. He came by and he said ‘that was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen’ and ‘you’re so wonderful.’ I said I just didn’t know and he said, ‘I feel the same way too when I do the scenes, it’s just part of it.’ And as an actor I respect so much that he would say he was in the same boat and that he also doubts himself and hugged me and he’s just such a good friend. He’s an extraordinary actor but he’s also a very, very good person.”

Dan added that Eddie is a gentleman!

Melissa jumped in to note that she new they could divulge very little about the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald film, but asked if they could share any ways in which their characters are changing.

Dan acquiesced, saying:

“It’s developing. The movie is darker. They’re further along in their relationship so you can imagine it gets more complex. Now there’s a question of how did they get back together again. You see them at the end of the first movie, -oh yeah, ‘I know you!’ So now it’s obvious they’ve spent some time together between then and the movie and there’s the whole dark cloud of their not supposed to be together and they are. So there’s a lot of stress that comes with that, so your relationship is put under stress. So there’s a lot of drama coming.”

And back to the audience…

Fourth question: They were asked about favorite creatures and spells:

Dan said his favorite spell was “Riddikulus,” and his favorite creature was the Demiguise because it’s so cool–it has lots of power and is super smart and would make a great pal.

Alison said her favorite creature is the Niffler and that her new puppy is like a Niffler, stealing things. She also said she would like to have a Time Turner. Allison added that her Patronus is a white stallion, and Dan revealed his is both a dolphin and a squirrel!

Fifth question: A woman commented that her family loves the jazz club scene in the first movie–particularly the scene with the giggle water–and wondered if they could tell her more about it. Was it scripted or improv?

Dan said it was Alison’s idea that the giggle water would make No-Majs laugh. Alison explained that they had Dan do 200 different variations of the giggle, and they also took out a scene where Alison kissed a giant to get into the bar!

Sixth question: What was it like working with JK Rowling?

Dan enthused:

“I met her the second day of rehearsals, and I was freaking out. She was up all night writing, and they put us in this room together, and I was constantly star struck, and I saw that next to her was this script that was as tall as she was, and I said, ‘Do I have to memorize all that?’ She said ‘no, no, no. This is everything.’ How I interpreted that in the moment was that was all five movies and she’d been working on it since the first movies. She gave me some great advice in that one meeting about the character, and she said that Jacob reminds her of Ron. She said that was great because she loves Jacob, and Ron gets to do everything–he gets to be the clown and the hero and he gets to have a romantic journey. And I said, that’s great, thank you.”

Alison recalled:

“All thoughts left my mind when I saw her. (Dan interjected, “She’s a rock star.”) You never expect to meet certain people in your life, and you definitely don’t expect to meet J.K. Rowling, let alone have her know your name. Once, we were all standing around her. She came to set on the day of the rain scene, and we were just leaving, and we were all star struck like children. I think Eddie was pacing back and forth and back and forth, and I couldn’t say anything. I think it took me like three visits before I could have an actual conversation with her. She’s got an incredibly powerful presence. She’s an incredibly strong woman and really smart. She’s a real force. Of course she is. She doesn’t disappoint.”

Next question: What was their favorite part about being on set?

Alison said:

“Everything is so detailed and so beautiful. I was practicing the strudel ballet with my wand. The wands are weighted and beautifully handmade. Out of the corner of my eye I saw laundry dancing, and I was like, what?? Then I turned around and saw puppeteers, so I was slightly disappointed, but the details and the fact that there’s working magic within the set, we’re not in some green screen environment. There is some, but there is a lot that is handmade, and it creates a real atmosphere, and you can play with things and look at them and pick them up. It makes it feel like it’s a real place, like you’re actually in this world, it’s so cool.”

Dan added that his favorite part was seeing them recreate New York in the ’20s because he’s from Brooklyn, and the ’20s is his favorite era–and his grandfather was a baker!

Last question: What was their most challenging scene?

Dan said his most challenging scene was also the most fun–the scene when he was running from the Erumpent–because it was freezing and icy and wet. He said, “I am Indiana Jones running from the ball in Raiders of the Lost Ark! I was like a kid in a candy store.”

Alison chose the good-bye scene in the rain, explaining:

“I’ve always had this fear of being emotional on camera. I cry all the time in my life but, to have to cry and bring up this emotion again and again, I was really nervous about it… It was like, at first things were stuck, and I was having a hard time accessing the moment. I told Dan some things that were going on with me personally and allowed myself to get a bit more in the present–that’s when something cracked open in me, and I was able to feel what was happening and allow myself to feel the sadness of it. And it was also a thought of ending the movie, of ending the experience as well. It was very hard but ended up being very beautiful, but whenever I see that scene I just feel it.”

Melissa closed out the panel by thanking everyone for being there, and Dan and Alison said good-bye!

Be sure to check out our other coverage from LeakyCon 2018 at the links below:

Dan Fogler’s Panel | Devon Murray Panel and Exclusive Interview | Alison Sudol’s Panel Acting As A Young Wizard & Antagonists Panels | Chris Rankin’s Panel

 





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.