‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Set Report #9: Interview with Colleen Atwood

Aug 24, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Colleen Atwood, Crew Interviews, Exclusives, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Filmmaker Interviews, Interviews, Leaky, Movies, News, SetReports

Colleen Atwood is not only an Academy Award winning costume designer, she also has one of the coolest jobs around, and gets to work with all the major actors on set of Crimes of Grindelwald. She’s got a great understanding of the characters in this saga, and was the perfect person to some insight into the next instalment in the wizarding world film series!

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


The costume department on Fantastic Beasts deals mainly with the principal costumes and the featured actors, and Colleen tells us that her approach to costumes takes into consideration the period, the character, and the amount of physical movement an actor has to do on set. Between seventy and a hundred people (Colleen says there are multiple working on separate stages such as aging, dying, textiles and fitting at any given time) work on set to get costumes ready for shoot:

“For instance one scene, the opening scene of the movie, I have– you know, it’s maybe 12 people in the scene but because of the number of multiples I need for the scene it’s over a hundred costumes ‘cause I need so many different stunt versions and different versions and variations of the costume. So it does fluctuate but basically that’s the heavy load, and then [the amount of people working in the department] goes up when you have like a big crowd day.”

One of the big inspirations for Colleen when designing for Crimes was the film noir atmosphere being created by David Yates:

“My inspiration definitely reflects film noir and I love the way The Third Man looks. I mean it’s a great looking film. The use of light and shadow is beautiful. It’s not set in Paris I don’t believe but with Paris as a backdrop it’s helpful too for design because you get a French take on it but with the lighting of the noir films. It’s definitely a player in my inspiration. That was David Yates’s big note; you know, like he really liked the noir kinda feeling for this one.”


On costuming Jude Law as a young Albus Dumbledore, Colleen shares that Jude had some input on the overall look:

“Jude had some thoughts about Dumbledore, what he felt the younger spirit of Dumbledore was, which was the favorite teacher that all the kids liked; it was sort of like a mentor to some of the outsiders and sort of embraced special kind of magical powers. And so with that approach– Dumbledore was vaguely purplish tones in the Potters, so I sort of backed into that but I didn’t use purple; I used grays and softer tones that were very approachable. His clothes kinda have a soft texture so they feel lived in and- and at the same time, you know, a little bit different than what everyone else in the school would wear, like more approachable. He has a great coat that everybody loved; he has a big corduroy overcoat that he wears for a scene in the fog. Jude looks great, he’s a great-looking man, so it doesn’t hurt!”

On Newt’s blue coat, Colleen said they didn’t want to change too much for Crimes, but needed to give him an upgrade to represent his newfound fame through the publication of his book:

“With Newt we all sort of fell in love with the blue coat, right? So what I realized that I wanted to do with it is take a little bit more– he’s done a little better in the world on the outside. His clothes are a little bit nicer quality; they’re not quite as rumply; they’re a little more urban I’d say. He’s written a book and he’s become acknowledged for who he is. And what I did is I took a gray fabric that I found that I had woven for the film ‘cause I found an old piece and then the mill luckily reproduced it for me and then we just wanted a little bit of a hint of blue so I did a screen over it of little, tiny blue dots so in some of the light you catch kinda the old blue. It’s pretty subtle but you get a little kick of it without it being the same.

Photo by Jaap Buitendijk (exclusive for Leaky's set visit reports, showing Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander) and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander) on set with director David Yates for 'Crimes of Grindelwald')

Photo by Jaap Buitendijk (exclusive for Leaky’s set visit reports, showing Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander) and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander) on set with director David Yates for ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’)


“I left the waistcoat almost the same color ‘cause I felt like it was a color that was almost like animals in the wilderness have sometimes; their outside is kind of subtle but they always have a little– a couple feathers or a little thing here and there that gives it brightness so I did that color again for him for his waistcoat.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Colleen spoke about dealing with two separate time periods at Hogwarts: the young Newt flashbacks, and the Hogwarts of the 1920/30s:

“In this movie I had Hogwarts in two different time periods so for their earlier period I did a nod to the earlier period like a longer skirt, ankle boots, you know, the sweater, shirt setup’s the same, and- and then for the ‘30s take on it I just shifted it into that. The robe itself is based on a medieval robe basically; those robes are a very old design. I sort of took them out of the choir robe thing and did a little bit more trim on them; I did some velvet trim on them and- you know, and then the hoods are the house colors inside, so we did some fun things like that but they’re pretty much– you know, they’re pretty classical.”


On how Leta Lestrange will compare to Bellatrix, Colleen says that she’s far more ‘pared down’ than her ancestor:

“We’re kind of looking at the ‘30s here; we’re looking at a period where it’s modern in a sense compared to Victorian. Even though Helena [Bonham Carter] was in modern times her nod was definitely to the Victorian, but with Zoe Kravitz who plays Leta we did a much sleeker, kind of more pared-down version. She’s from the manor born, she’s an aristocrat, and I played up sort of the glamor that an aristocrat of that period would have in the world of magic.

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We were told by Martin Foley during our tour of the Art Department that Tina had gained confidence since being reinstated as an Auror, and Colleen shares how this will translate into her costume:

“We played around in the beginning ‘cause we went with a dress look at the beginning like a cape, this great dress and she’s become the level of Carmen Ejogo in the last one, not quite but a sort of more political look. Then we went back to her detective look, so we went back to the trousers. And we did this coat that is this blue leather trench coat that’s really cinched around her that looks fantastic on her because she’s so tall and thin, but it also is empowering and I based it off a real period sort of trench coat. It’s this really beautiful dark navy-blue color so it’s quite striking on her physique, but it feels powerful like– when you see her you feel like she’s got some chops. <laughs>”

The only item of costume Colleen could recall needing to be taken from the WB Studio Tour display to replicate was actually Tina’s necklace:

“Tina has a necklace that you don’t really see in this one but [Katherine Waterston] wanted to wear it ‘cause she’d worn it in the first one, and I had to go get it off <laughs> the display to make some more duplicates of it so it got borrowed for a few weeks.”

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Queen’s also going places in this movie, and Alison Sudol thought that those places required plaid patterns, which Colleen happily made a reality:

“We’ve sort of talked about like, you know, “Where do you think you’ve gone?” ‘cause I always say that with these guys that come back, they’ve thought about who their characters have become, and [Alison] says, “I was thinking I might wear a tartan, a plaid” and I was like “Oh, <laughs> I’d never thought of that,” but I had this old piece of plaid fabric that I’d bought in– strangely enough in Germany, that was a vintage piece of fabric and I took it and I reworked it and I printed it for her dress and it’s a plaid but it’s not quite a tartan. It’s happy, it’s got a Queenie quality – like Queenie’s moved on, but it’s still a very girlish, it has that kind of Queenie quality to it.


On costuming Grindelwald, Colleen says she’s worked with Johnny Depp many times previously, and they worked together to give Grindelwald a unique look:

” I’ve dressed Johnny a lot in my life in different things, and he always has a certain style and something he brings to the table as an actor. He has a physicality that works great in costume because he just kind of owns it quite easily, but this character was– I sort of brought it to him and he was like “Yes, let’s do this.” And then he has a look at the end that’s quite unique that we worked on together — it’s a different take and I think it’s fresh and it’s gonna be great on him.”

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Flamel was a tad more challenging, given the openness of his character, eventually deciding on a ‘spiritual’ look:

“I used a- a hand-woven fabric that felt ancient and I did a couple different versions of him in the beginning for David because we weren’t quite sure where we were gonna go with who he was and when I read up on Flamel, and looked at alchemy and people in that period, I kind of did a more merchant look, which was a plausible solution for that character in time. And then we decided he was in a lab environment so we sorta wanted to go with a more kind of minimal, kind of almost spiritual look for the character, which is based on an under-robe more than an over-robe ‘cause usually they’d wear the big, heavy velvet robes over it but we went much simpler with his character and it worked better with the light hair and everything and in the lab environment it looks– you could kinda buy it as an ancient lab kinda robe.”

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Credence is one of Colleen’s favorite characters, and costuming with Ezra has been a joy. Credence’s new look is based off of his journey to come into his own:

“I love Credence. I love his character. I love who he’s becoming and I also think Ezra Miller is a spectacular young actor, a really great actor, and so it’s fun to kinda work with him on where we’re going with it and he loves a costume so he’s a costumer’s friend.

“So Ezra at the beginning of this is sort of a bit more of himself but he’s owning it more so he doesn’t have his very eccentric haircut. He’s not hiding who he is so much, so he’s opening up to the world so instead of black I used warmer colors; I used some black. I used some things that are reminiscent of who he was before because I think all of a sudden even in your life as you change you don’t like “Well, this year I’m gonna wear all red and next year I’m gonna wear all”– you know, that we take the things that are us and move them on in our lifetimes and that’s what I’m trying to do with these people and the same with Credence even though– before he was such an extreme character.”

On what moves her so much about Credence:

“Well, when you read into the character he’s quite a– you know, he’s a tortured soul, he’s a victim of happenstance, and he has a different journey than other people, and maybe as an artistic person I connect with that kind of character in a way, in a similar way I connect with Newt’s character who is somebody that’s a little bit of an outsider too.”

Colleen says that the costumes in Circus Arcanus are inspired by French circuses and sideshows, and tie to who each character in the circus is, but we’ll have to wait to see more!

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Theseus’s costume (like his wand, which we saw in the Prop Department) is super official, and – like Percy Weasley – he’s out to prove himself to the Ministry:

“I would say he’s like the middle child; he’s trying to do everything the right way so even though in his heart he may be different than that he’s trying to all appearances be like a young ambitious wizard that’s coming up in the world of wizardry and in the world of government.

On the challenges of bringing costumes to life, Colleen says the trickiest part of design is giving each film individuality:

“I suppose it’s more not an individual costume; it’s more like how to get the Grindelwald world its own world that’s coming into its own, and how to  get the different individual worlds of the Aurors and the different national groups and all those characters together and evolve the main cast at the same time into a world. The big challenge to me isn’t one costume per se. I mean there’s always one that’s a headache and you’re just like “Oh, why isn’t this like working?” but it’s more like trying to get the whole world into something that feels fresh and alive and that it can have a journey forward in time.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will hit theaters November 16th. Catch our report from the Art Department with Martin Foley here, our walk though the French Wizarding World sets here, and interviews with the Prop Department’s Pierre Bohanna, director David Yates, producer David Heyman, Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander) and Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone).

Leaky would like to thank Warner Bros for this exclusive coverage of yet another instalment in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and Colleen Atwood for giving up some of her time of set to talk to us more about ‘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.