‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Set Report #6: Interviewing Eddie Redmayne

Aug 24, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Actor Interviews, Exclusives, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Interviews, J.K. Rowling, Leaky, News, Redmayne, Redmayne Interviews, SetReports

Eddie Redmayne sneaks into the interview tent on the set of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and immediately you see why he got the part of Newt Scamander – he epitomises the quintessentially British gentleman, and has such a love of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world that comes through with each and every one of his answers about Crimes.

We were lucky enough to interview Eddie on set of the second Fantastic Beasts film, discussing how Newt will develop going forwards, his relationships with other characters (specifically Theseus, Leta, Bunty and Tina), his love of magical creatures, and his role in Dumbledore’s plans to thwart Grindelwald!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Set Report Links

Art Department & Plot Run-Through with Martin Foley   |  Walking the French Wizarding World: French Diagon Alley & the French Ministry   |   Props Department with Pierre Bohanna    |    Interview with Director David Yates    |    Interview with Producer David Heyman    |     Interview with Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander)    | Interview with Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander)    |    Interview with Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone)    |    Interview with Costume Designer Colleen Atwood    |     The Magical Creatures of Crimes of Grindelwald    |    Character Profiles: Trouble in Paris


This set report will disclose firsthand exclusive details about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald not seen in the trailers!


Eddie says that upon first read of the Crimes of Grindelwald script, he was particularly excited to see where these films are taking us, and how new characters enter into the equation:

“In the first film, you saw references made to a couple of characters, one of which was Dumbledore, and Newt’s relationship with Dumbledore. And the other was Leta Lestrange. One of the things that most excited me about this script is seeing how those two characters, along with my brother, Theseus, played by Callum Turner, how they come into the world. It’s an odd thing when you get involved in a film and you read an original script, but you don’t know where your character’s going or what’s coming with it. It was properly exhilarating to get to see the new script and, I suppose almost from a fan’s point of view, you’ll see where Jo has taken us.”

He was also hugely excited to be working with Jude Law:

“I’ve known Jude for- for many years socially and admired his work. He has that sort of twinkle in his eye that was, I think, so important in the depictions of Dumbledore in the films and certainly was really important to J.K. Rowling. I don’t know about you, but I find that thing with influential teachers at school, you know, when you then grow up and you sort of see them as human beings. It’s a bit like that parent thing. When they are fallible, but you always have that sort of odd dynamic. I think [Newt and Dumbledore] have quite a special relationship.”

Working with Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander was a delight (you can hear more from Callum in our on-set interview with him!), but also slightly odd – he and his wife had previously noticed how alike they look, and now they’re playing brothers!

“It’s wonderful. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is working with Callum. I was watching War and Peace. I don’t know if you guys saw that, which he was in. My wife and I were watching and he turned up on screen and literally, both Hannah and I said that’s like a taller, darker, better looking version of me!

“So when David was auditioning people for that part and then he’s like, “I want you to test with this actor,” and Callum walked in, I was, like, holy s***!”

Photo by Jaap Buitendijk

Photo by Jaap Buitendijk

He tells us that Callum actually shaped Jo’s thinking about Theseus, and shifted her perception of his character:

“He’s been really fantastic. I think, talking to Jo, how Jo had written Callum’s character in this film, versus how he’s mined that material, I think has changed her opinion of where she might take him. That’s so exciting for us when she has a plan of what the big major arc is, but when she comes to set, talks about responding to different actors’ takes on different characters and how that then shifts her opinion. So it’s lovely to feel like you’re an active part of something, you know.”

Later he says:

“I think [Jo] is the most formidable mind and imagination, 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. And so, if you go within a scene, “oh, maybe he would do this here or can I add this?” Then she’s incredibly free at allowing that 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.”

He reveals how he collaborates on scenes with David Yates and Jo Rowling by telling us about a ‘tracking scene’ set to appear in the movie:

There’s a tracking scene in the film in which some of Newt’s qualities that he had out in the field are put to test, and it was written by Jo. But then, how you manifest that physically, I basically had a week or two working with the dancer who I’d worked with before [for the Erumpent mating dance scene in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]. And we investigated all the different ways, having spoken to trackers and stuff. But that’s one thing, doing it for real, but actually, you’re in the wizarding world. So do the tracks become airborne? What can you do with the wand to release things? So that part, I go off and investigate things. I then show them to David. David’ll then discuss them with Jo”


We know that Newt’s request to travel to the U.S. (fulfilling his promise to Tina that he’d hand her a copy of his newly published book) was denied, bringing him to the Ministry of Magic. Miscommunications and his inability to travel puts a strain on his relationship with Tina, Eddie says:

“There’s been a misunderstanding and one of the lovely things is the way in which these guys come back together is typical for Tina and Newt through a lot of inability to communicate what they really feel. But it’s been love- so wonderful playing with Katherine.”

How do the quartet end up in Paris? It all seemingly begins with Newt and Jacob, Eddie explains, when discussing how much the presence of the ‘buddy comedy’ element from the first film will be felt in Crimes:

“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 to Paris. And so, there’s that [buddy comedy] element and Dan’s genius, which was one of the things I enjoyed most about the first film, how Jo had written Jacob, but then, Dan taking it to another level through improvising and playing. There’s so much of that and I love it because [Dan] always described it as sort of this Laurel and Hardy style kind of relationship. But it was unlike anything I’d ever had to play and it’s been really wonderful.”


We’re excited to see the characters from the first movie develop more, but also see more into Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s backstory – their involvement in Crimes and beyond raises the stakes, Eddie says, and things begin to get a lot darker for Newt, who Eddie says will show more of his authentic “knotty” self in this instalment:

“The interesting thing is that this film takes it to– you really get inside the psychology of the characters more. You can sort of get a sense of what’s coming historically in the Muggle world at the time, and certainly the wizarding world. There are elements that are reflecting that and with the rise of Grindelwald and this greater evil, the stakes are higher. So I would say it’s interesting when you’ve done a film and the world’s responded to it. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that and one of the questions I said to David, the director, and Jo is, you know, we’re into the next film with Newt. Where should we take him? They wanted  to dig deeper into what David describes as ‘knottiness’. His confidence in his own capabilities, his lack of confidence with other people, his kind heart and yet prickly nature, and standing up for what he believes in. It doesn’t make him easy and it’s a wonderful challenge for me. And it’s been lovely for them to go, “No, no, no. I want you to take it more into that place”.”

Eddie’s reaction to the script was pretty much how any Potter fan would respond to a new story by J.K. Rowling:

“Basically, at the end, my jaw is on the floor <laughs> and I then have to start and read it all over again. It works in that way, there are many new characters. They all have extraordinarily delicate and complicated arcs and so, I went straight back and started all over again. I find it absolutely thrilling.”

“The first thing I saw of this script was the audition scenes for various parts. And it’s so funny because you get sent these scenes and all the characters’ names are changed. I found this out yesterday. They’re so top secret on this set that the costume department, when they break down the characters and what their clothes are the whole way through, they’re not allowed to write the names of the characters. So Newt is Good Guy. Tina is Turner, after Tina Turner. Dumbledore is Very Good Guy.”

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate ‘very good guy’ as Dumbledore’s codename. However, we’re reminded on multiple occasions during this set visit that Dumbledore isn’t perfect, and,  just as he used Harry to achieve his means, he’s also using Newt in his scheme against Grindelwald, telling Newt “I can’t move against Grindelwald – it has to be you”. But why is Newt key to this plan?

“[Newt’s] capacity to- to see broken people and to reach out to broken people is a skillset which is pretty unique. It’s one of the things that Dumbledore has always, since he was a kid, seen in Newt. The complexity of it is building to a showdown between [Dumbledore and Grindelwald] — [Jo’s] created a scenario that’s not as simple as the two can just face off. And actually, Dumbledore needs to recruit the skillset of Newt to help.”

Eddie also told us about a scene which didn’t make it into the movie, but shows Newt’s struggle to cope with newfound fame after the publication of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

“There was a scene that was — because his book has come out at the beginning — it was him trying to deal with fame, basically. <laughs> With all these sort of, like, screaming girls. Which he was sort of totally struggling with. That scene didn’t end up in the script, but you definitely get a sense that he’s not that thrilled with the fact that the response has been so huge, because it’s had ramifications on how wizards are treating creatures.”

First and foremost, creatures come first for Newt, and Eddie tells us that although he’s slightly distracted from this to help Dumbledore, we’ll still see plenty of magical creatures! He spoke more about the appearance of baby Nifflers in Crimes of Grindelwald:

“My favorite scene to shoot so far involves the baby Nifflers. They’re just causing havoc and it coincided with the time that– I now have a 15-month-old child and the baby Nifflers retain many of the qualities <laughs> of my 15-month-old. What’s lovely is Pickett and the Niffler and the babies have returned, along with new creatures. They’re as unique and useful and dangerous and exciting as– if not more so — than the first. So it’s been wonderful. That side of it for me is so lovely because you have this 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. You then have Stuart [Craig] and co designing, and it’s such a collaboration of different spirits.”


Speaking about Young Newt, and the flashback scenes in Hogwarts, Eddie said he didn’t have much input on the young actor’s take on Newt:

“I haven’t worked with a younger actor in that way and it was very interesting because David said he had found this guy and he was completely wonderful. He wanted me to spend some time with him, but also, David had found in the audition tapes, this like instinct he had, which he didn’t want, rightly, touched. So it was sort of this weird thing where I just didn’t want to screw it up, basically. <laughter>

 “He’d really watched the first movie and so we spent a day just talking about the character. He had had the gait and the aversion to eye contact and understanding the elements to Newt and he was on it before I’d even– I didn’t talk about it. And it was interesting hearing what his take on Newt was.”

Speaking about Newt’s love “quadrangle” with Bunty’s ‘soft spot’ for Newt, Leta’s history with him, and Tina’s future with Newt, Eddie says the secret to Newt’s attraction is in his authenticity:

“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 he has a very large heart. As we were talking about before, I think he has great empathy.

Eddie ends our talk with a polite farewell, and a story of when he first visited the Parisian wizarding world outdoor sets we were visiting that day:

“Great to see you. Enjoy the tour and everything […] That was actually, after I’d read the script, that was at my first place I went to. Because it means that whatever’s in your imagination, you can then place in- in that world and it feels- it feels quite invigorating.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald releases in theatres on November 16th. Catch our set report from the Art Department with Martin Foley here, our walk through the French Wizarding World sets, and interviews with the Prop Department’s Pierre Bohanna, director David Yates, producer David Heyman, Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), and costume designer Colleen Atwood!

Leaky would like to thank Warner Bros for this exclusive coverage of yet another instalment in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and Eddie Redmayne for generously giving his time to talk to us more about Newt Scamander and ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’

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.