Alison Sudol’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Panel at LeakyCon 2018

Aug 13, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Actor Interviews, Conventions, Fan Events, Fantastic Beasts Movie, LeakyCon, News, Sudol

Fantastic Beasts star and musician Alison Sudol (who portrays Queenie in the film series) appeared on a panel at LeakyCon on Friday to help kick off the event, and shared her thoughts on Queenie’s evolution, her favorite moments from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, reflections on music and finding your voice, and much more… Leaky’s correspondent Kathy Paz captured the panel live, so if you weren’t able to attend LeakyCon, we’ve got you covered!

If you can’t bear to miss out on LeakyCon’s ten year anniversary celebration next year, head to the official website to find out more about getting tickets to Dallas (August 9-11 2019 – now available), and Boston (October 11-13 – available September 4).

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Many fans of Fantastic Beasts would have been familiar with Sudol’s name through their love of her as an artist, and Alison opened her panel, moderated by Mallory and Jason of Binge Mode by discussing her music, saying that singing gave her the confidence to pursue acting:

“When I sang, that was the first time I actually felt brave […] The transition to acting was quite natural.”


Discussing this transition more, Alison says the move to acting actually came at a lower point in her confidence as a musician, but she gave a beautiful answer explaining that she’s working on cultivating her truest self, and advises everybody else to do so, too:

“I have been doing a lot of personal work lately because I stopped playing live as a musician about six years ago. I just couldn’t for a while. So I decided to pursue acting. And that has been such an extraordinary ride, and really beautiful and deep and rich, but there was a part of my voice that I have actually suppressed over the past few years.

“I’m not quite ready to talk about all the reasons that that happened, but it did happen, and what I’ve noticed recently is that by not actually being myself and really speaking from my deepest truth, it’s like a part of me is dying.

“The thing about this world is that there’s this… It’s not spoken, it’s not something you can put your finger on and go ‘People are telling me not to be myself’, or telling me to not speak my truth, or do the things that I love. But there is this strange feeling. Sometimes it’s just a look someone will give you, or a reaction when you’re doing something that is really true to you, and that can be really devastating if you’re a sensitive person. What I’ve found is really important is really getting in touch with who you really are, and what you have to say, and what you feel is something you want to celebrate about yourself, and cultivate that. 

“When you’re not using your voice – I don’t just mean singing, it could be cooking, it could be this, it could be that you secretly want to play guitar – if you can cultivate that and allow that to pass through you, you’ll just be so much happier in your life. As an artist and actress, the more that I allow myself to be, the more there is room for my art, and the better it grows” 


She shared her thoughts on the beauty of being able to share in J.K. Rowling’s vision, and also the challenges of acting out ‘magic’ in the Muggle world:

‘There’s something so powerful about diving into a different world … it opens up doors where the regular world can make it hard to find a doorknob. I’ve learned so much from the Potter books, and from being inside of this world and being able to be Queenie. It’s challenged me personally in a lot of ways to step into that, but also just the magic. Simply that the idea – even as an actress – I don’t know how to close that door.”

Alison shared that she co-wrote the Ilvernorny song with J.K. Rowling in the deleted scene, and that Rowling came to set that day!

“It was a little bit tricky for them in the pacing of the film to have a musical number. But it was a joy. It was really fun with Katherine as well.” Singing with Katherine [Waterston] was: “ a sweet moment”

When discussing how Queenie evolved as a character, Alison said she was initially written very far from the sensitive, enigmatic and bubbly character we see in the film:

“Initially she was written more like a bombshell. But if she had been described to me like that, I would have never thought I had a shot.”

After the casting director described Queenie as an empath, Alison explains that Queenie started to be seen “as a person who can read into people. She’s also described as a beauty, that that’s not really how she sees herself.”


Eventually, Alison said, “The bombshell lessened and the warmth was able to come more.” and Queenie’s power came through – something that Alison says has challenged her and taught her a lot about herself in learning to ‘feel what she feels’:

“Queenie has this great gift, this great power. But she doesn’t know that. All her life she’s been trying to be normal […] A lot of the time, the thing that’s most special about us is the thing we’re most self conscious about.”

“I grew up reading these books and I was a total sci-fi need as a kid. And there’s something so powerful about jumping into these worlds.” “I’ve learned so much from the Potter books and from being inside of this world, being able to be Queenie. It’s challenged my in a lot of ways.”.

“If you play a character, you need to Be empathetic towards them. You need to feel what they’re feeling… to be empathetic and play an empath, you feel what they’re feeling which is basically everyone.”

Working with Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) has been fantastic for Alison: “he’s an extraordinary physical comedian. He’s very charming … it’s a very sweet story.”


The reason Queenie and Jacob’s relationship resonates with so many people, she says, is because:

“It’s so pure, and through Jacob’s eyes we get to see the Wizarding World as if any of us got dropped into this totally extraordinary universe. To willingly let that go is heart wrenching!”

“You can see that they have true affection. They have a lot of things in common. Their hearts are quite similar … Who doesn’t want to believe that love like that exists? As human beings we need love.”

Despite the important place of strudel in their relationship, ‘not nearly enough’ strudel was consumed on set, she says, but she did share that “Jacob’s bakery at the end, that was real baked goods.” She was completely tempted to eat the set (despite not being allowed) and wanted “all the carbs.”

Alison and Katherine [Waterston] had to find sisterhood when bringing Queenie and Tina to the screen, and Alison says it was important to them that this relationship was shown on screen:

“We decided early on to have certain things, like certain cues about our childhood, so you could see there was a relationship there.”

The duo discovered they would be playing sisters almost immediately after meeting for the first time, and as many will know, Alison sat next to Katherine on the couch and started braiding her hair  (“She was so tall and cool – I got that little sister vibe!”), which made everybody on set cry! Alison said she always wanted a sister growing up, and she and Katherine found small  cues to show their bond (made entirely in the moment) – things like tasting things at the same time and the way they set the table together.

tina and queenie

She also discussed Queenie’s power and her important role in a blockbuster movie:

“In Hollywood women don’t often get the opportunity to play roles that are multifaceted. With Abernathy it was cool to see her play on that stereotype … She’s smart – she’s much smarter than she lets on, and it was fun to see that. I hope we’ll see how she’ll come to her own” 

Alison (and all of us, really) loves that Queenie is “so unapologetically feminine”, and also said she’s proud to be playing a Jewish character:

“It’s a really cool thing. Diversity is important. I’m really proud of who she is.”

And though she can’t tell us anything, Alison did say that she’s enjoyed discovering more whilst filming Crimes, specifically with regards to Queenie’s role as a Legilimens:

“I don’t actually know what’s in the future for her, but it was interesting to see her evolve in this film, and keep tapping into her escence and see her in very different situations this time, and seeing how she’ll navigate that.”That power is very key.”

Her favorite scenes to film were the Strudel scene, and the department store scene, and she would LOVE to look after a Demiguise, or Pickett!


Sudol actually took the Pottermore Patronus twice, and somehow managed to get a white stallion and then a black stallion. Her boyfriend got a cat, and was definitely jealous of how cool Alison’s was!

Her favorite things about the films are the spells, but she says she’s a total nerd and (like Neville) she thinks herbology is really cool. As a Greenpeace ambassador, Alison obviously loves the conservation and biodiversity messages in Fantastic Beasts, and is super impressed with the details on set. On her favorite creature in Fantastic Beasts, she didn’t want to choose, but eventually confessed: “I have a weakness for the Niffler. We have a four month old puppy and she’s basically a Niffler, if shoes were gold.”


Alison was sorted into Horned Serpent, and when made to decide between Ilvermorny or Hogwarts, Alison had a pretty hard time:

“I grew up with Hogwarts. And who didn’t want to go to Hogwarts! It sounds like the best place. And as a kid I always wanted to be in England…  But Queenie went to Ilvermorny and she loves Ilvermorny… I imagine it as this early 19th century building with woods and canoeing. So I kind of have skewed now to Ilvernorny!”

On projects she’s working on currently, Alison said she’s focusing on music again, but also branching out to writing!

“I’m coming back into music after a very long time. And I made a record as we were shooting the first Fantastic Beasts.”

She says she’s working on releasing two EPs: the first one will be coming out next month, and will be called Moon:

“It’s based on the idea that as an artist you can create a career for yourself, and also the planet.”

After recently starting a label with her long-time manager and best friend, Alison says she’ll be starting to do shows again, which is great news for us! In the realm of writing, Alison shared that she wrote a children’s story a while ago that needs a deep edit, and is also currently writing a script.

Her tips for singer songwriters is to ‘listen to your voice”:

“There’s a lot of pressure in the industry to sound like someone … but the things that really helps connects people to your music is having your own voice … always do it for the love of it because nothing can take that from you.”

“Find friends and make things. Make a lot. That’s the best thing.”

Moving onto Harry Potter, she says Hagrid is her favorite Hogwarts professor, because he’s a “big soft bear spirit” – read our interview with Alison and Dan last year here, where they theorise that Hagrid and Queenie/Jacob could be related! – but she understandably hates Umbridge:“She was horrible! Way worse than Snape.”

Finally, if Queenie went to school at the same time as Harry, Alison thinks Queenie would “like Ron a lot. He’d make her laugh … She’d love Hermione too, but she might be intimidated by her.”

We loved being able to catch up with Alison at her panel, and we’re glad she said she had a magical time, too… Now to set the countdown until November – we can’t wait to see more of Queenie’s journey in Crimes of Grindelwald!

Catch our coverage of our interview with Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan), and his panel here, and stay posted for coverage of panels with Dan Fogler, a joint panel with Alison and Dan, a Young Wizards Panel, an Antagonists Panel, and a panel with Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley)!

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.