Parkside School in Cullman County was full of magic Thursday morning as the “Today” show and several of the stars from the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” came to the school as part of a Wizarding World Day that showcased its Harry Potter-themed classrooms and hallways and recognized the work of its teachers and students.
Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Zoë Kravitz, Ezra Miller and Callum Turner all stopped by the school on a promotional tour for the film, and got a tour of the classrooms and hallways before speaking to the school’s students.
“What your teachers have done here, what the community has done here, to rally behind this extraordinary school and inspire you guys to do such things, it has literally blown our minds,” Redmayne said. “So thank you so much for having us.”
Making a stop in Baileyton on a promotional tour that is spanning the globe is also a unique experience, Law said.
“It’s exciting enough to be a part of a film franchise or world that came from these books that goes all around the world. We were just in China and saw people there really embrace it, get so excited by it,” he said. “To also be a situation like this, where it’s actually had a real grassroots influence on a community… it’s incredibly exciting.”
All of Parkside’s students were thrilled to see the stars of one of their favorite movie series, but that excitement flowed both ways, Miller said.
“Inspiration never just runs one way. This is going to power us through the next four weeks of our lives as we’re so deep into the world of jet lag that you start to literally forget who you are,” he said. “In that moment I know that I’ll refer to this memory, because this is a reminder of what this is, and what J.K. Rowling’s legacy is in this world.”
As part of the ceremony, the stars also presented a check for $25,000 from Warner Bros. to the school.
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Like millions of others, British actor Eddie Redmayne still recalls the joy of watching the Harry Potter films. “Every year or two it was, ‘Ah, take me back to that place!’” he sighs. “In the same way as those other great iconic franchises – like Bond – there’s the whole theatre of queuing up to go and see it and knowing the familiarity of that world you’re going into. It’s reassuring as the years pass that you’re still being hugged by those things.”
“Hugged” is right. A seven-book series that enchanted millions, JK Rowling’s boy wizard has spawned eight films, one current hit play, theme parks and a mountain of merchandise that’d put Star Wars to shame. Nineteen years since the publication of his first adventure, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Potter has defined childhoods (and adulthoods) ever since. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a second film franchise, the Redmayne-starring Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is upon us.
Inspired by Rowling’s 2001 spin-off compendium, as any Potter fan knows, Fantastic Beasts is a famous text in the world of magic. Referenced in Philosopher’s Stone, this book-within-a-book was penned by Redmayne’s character, Newt Scamander, an employee at the British Ministry of Magic. Set in 1926, some 70 years ahead of Harry ever casting his first spell, the film shines a light on Newt long before he became a renowned ‘magizoologist’ (the study of mythical beasts) and put pen to paper.
The 34-year-old Redmayne, Oscar-winning actor from The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl, comes across as just as enthusiastic an ambass-ador for Rowling’s creation as Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry, once did. “I have a little brother who is six years younger than me, who was a bit obsessed, and he got me into the books,” he admits. “I found them just something you could dive into – it was extraordinary escapism.”
Certainly fans can rest assured that Fantastic Beasts is no conveyor-belt cash-in – with David Yates, the director of the final four Harry Potter films, at the helm and a script penned by Rowling herself (her first credited screenplay). “It’s both incredibly satisfying for anyone that’s been a Potter fan and it’s incredibly fresh,” comments Redmayne’s co-star Carmen Ejogo, who plays Seraphina Picquery, President of Magical Congress of the United States of America.
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He’s already made a big splash on the Hollywood scene, and he’s only 34 years old. Our friends over at Pottermore sat down for a one-on-one chat session with Fantastic Beasts’ leading man Eddie Redmayne.
Make no mistake about Eddie Redmayne; he’s definitely a method actor. As our friends over at Pottermore discovered, the 34-year-old Oscar winner went above and beyond to prepare for his portrayal of Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Plus, he’s a Harry Potter fan himself, which only adds to his (and our own) excitement.
When Redmayne learned he had the role, the first thing he did was have a one-hour sit down talk with J.K. Rowling herself, in order to delve deep into Newt’s head. “There was no small talk. I just said, ‘Right, tell me about Newt.’” How adorably British of you, Eddie!
Rowling always has a way with words, so Redmayne says it was easy to draw upon his characfter just from the screenplay. “You start by finding as much as you can on the page. You know that Newt has spent a year in the field, so you try and work out what that year would have been like.” He even gave a backstory to some scars his character has, like a wrist scratch from a niffler battle!
Director David Yates gave Eddie free reign to explore the character, so he jumped right into Newt’s animal taming abilities. “I went on a tracking course for a day, and this guy showed me how to live in the wild.” All that know-how translated into how Newt himself would track these wild, magical creatures, and what techniques would be best.
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Ever met a Niffler?
Eddie Redmayne has, and he learned one of the magical animal’s secrets from an earthly anteater.
The Oscar winner grabs a wand in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in theaters nationwide Friday, with preview screenings Thursday night) and took his Muggle self to a wildlife park in England to prepare to play a magizoologist.
“There was this anteater that had just been born, and people were trying to feed her and she kept scrunching herself into a ball. The way they would make her uncurl was to tickle her belly,” says Redmayne, 34, whose floppy-haired wizard surreptitiously transports magical animals to the USA inside a bottomless travel case.
On screen, the actor copies that trick to relieve an adorable, kleptomaniac creature called the Niffler of its horde of pocketed gems in Fantastic Beasts, a Harry Potter spinoff that meets Newt Scamander as he disembarks from a ship in New York City, 70 years before Potter’s story starts.
Let’s start with the basics: In Fantastic Beasts, set in America circa 1926, the non-magical sort are called No-Majs instead of Muggles, and this era is plagued not by Voldemort but by the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who has vanished after terrorizing half of Europe.
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It sure has taken a long time for Eddie Redmayne to get the filmmakers behind the “Harry Potter” movies under his spell.
More than a decade before he was cast as the lead in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a Potter prequel opening Friday, the actor had desperately tried to apparate into the franchise as a college student. But that role disappeared in a puff of disappointment.
“Years and years ago when I was at university, before I started acting seriously, I had gotten an audition for Tom Riddle (in 2002’s ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’),” the Oscar winner recalled to the Daily News.
“I met like the eighth assistant’s assistant’s casting director and I think I got through three lines before being asked to leave.”
But the saga remained in Redmayne’s blood — literally. He had discovered J.K. Rowling’s novels from his younger brother Thomas and his older brother Charles ran the fan website Potterverse.
But it wasn’t his brothers who flipped out the most when he finally landed a role.
“The most excited person in my family was my grandmother,” said Redmayne, who used to visit her in Edinburgh, Scotland. “When I was cast as Newt, she screamed, ‘I always knew you’d play a wizard! ‘ ”
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When he was nine years old, maybe 10, a small, freckly, flame-haired Eddie Redmayne auditioned to be in the West End production of the Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun. Acting was a new thing for him and before the casting call he found himself dreaming – both figuratively and literally – about winning a part. He’d be in the West End! He’d get to wag school! But then, on the day, a reality dawned somewhat murkier. Around 700 children turned up. Many wore Sylvia Young Theatre School T-shirts, and danced and sang precociously behind the scenes. Each child was given a tag, walked on stage and either sang or spoke a single line. When everyone was done, a list of names was called.
“It was a meat market for children,” Redmayne recalls, wide-eyed. “It almost felt like a forerunner for The X Factor or something. So I sang my one line and was promptly sent home.” He giggles, fidgets: “I remember it being properly scarring!”
The story is 25 years old, but the memory is vivid. Redmayne, now 34, brings it up when I ask him if he expected, on the night itself, to win the 2015 Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. “I had let my mind fantasise before and it was cut so bluntly short,” he explains. “I’ve never actually spoken about it, but I wonder if, over years of doing auditions, I’ve stopped myself allowing to believe the dream.
“Even in the run-up to the Oscars” – he whispers those last two words like he’s faintly embarrassed to be overheard – “it’s a horse race, and I knew I was in the running, but I’d not allowed myself to believe that it could happen. And also I thought Michael Keaton was formidable and I loved that film [Birdman].”
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Who said spinoffs have to look and feel like the properties that inspired them? Although Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will soon take us back into the wizard world created in by J.K. Rowling, the film already looks noticeably different than anything seen in the Harry Potter franchise. According to Eddie Redmayne, there’s a reason for that aesthetic difference, and it’s firmly rooted in the films 1920s setting. He explained:
The first thing that’s different is it’s set in the 1920s, and it’s set in New York. And it’s this amazing age of the Jazz Age and Prohibition, and there’s a kind of vibrancy to that place at that time. But also there are rumblings of this huge war of good versus evil going on. And this Englishman, this English wizard, arrives in New York, and the beasts getting out sort of sets into motion a whole load of things. There’s that kind of epic J.K. Rowling start of a massive battle thing going on.
Eddie Redmayne opened up regarding the upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them to EW at PopFest in Los Angeles, and addressed how the film sets itself apart from the Harry Potter franchise. In his own opinion, Fantastic Beasts really stands on its own merit because the setting and aesthetic of this new corner of the wizard world is so fundamentally different from what we’ve seen before. The film leans heavily into the trappings of the Jazz Age, and really embraces the classic visual elements of the era. In simple terms: it’s a stylish setting that harbors a classic battle between good and evil.
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J.K. Rowling shared the news in front of a worldwide audience of fans.
There’s a lot more Fantastic Beasts coming.
Harry Potter creator and Fantastic Beasts screenwriter J.K. Rowling made a surprise announcement Thursday that she has finished the plot for five films in the Fantastic Beast franchise, expanding it from the trilogy it was originally announced as. She later said that she will be the screenwriter for all five installments.
The announcement came as Harry Potter fans got a sneak peek of footage from the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them during a global event. The event, hosted by several theaters around the U.S. and London, featured new footage from the film, and a live Q&A with stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight as well as director David Yates.
The film, set to hit theaters via Warner Bros. on Nov. 18, stars Redmayne as Newt Scamander, who finds and documents an extraordinary array of magical creatures. He arrives in New York, where he misplaces the magical case housing his creatures. The escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts could spell trouble for both the wizarding and muggle worlds. In Potter lore, Scamander’s book is eventually used in Harry Potter’s studies at Hogwarts.
In addition to Rowling’s big announcement, audiences at the event also got to see the first 10 minutes of the film and heard some tidbits about the sequel.
One burning question saw Yates asked about the reference to Dumbledore in the movie, as the fan-favorite character would have been alive during this time period.
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He plays Magizoologist Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but what is actor Eddie Redmayne’s favourite magical creature?
Newt Scamanader tracks, studies, protects and writes about the magical creatures of the wizarding world.
He travels alone, and when we meet him at the beginning of Fantastic Beasts he’s been out in the field for about a year. Newt’s whole life has become about his affinity with these creatures.
Actor Eddie Redmayne worked particularly hard on making his interactions with all the beasts in this film believable, moving and real. Like Newt, he knows he shouldn’t have favourites but he does.
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Eddie confessed that his personal favourite is Pickett the Bowtruckle.
During the filming of Fantastic Beasts, Eddie told me a little more about his top three beasts and he seemed genuinely attached to them.
‘It’s really difficult because I fall in love with different ones every day,’ he said. ‘Pickett is my favourite. Pickett I adore because he’s clingy and he’s got attachment issues but I also love that he’s so spindly and stick-insecty. You almost can’t see his face but he reacts through his movement.’
Eddie told me that his relationship with the Niffler was a little more complex. ‘I have a wondrous love-hate relationship with the Niffler. I think that Newt really actually adores his ballsiness.
‘The other one I love is the Demiguise.’ In fact, Eddie told me that the Demiguise appears in one of his favourite moments from the film, but we don’t want to reveal that just yet.
We can’t wait for you to get to know these creatures like Eddie has. [Source]
Eddie Redmayne has some big shoes to fill as the face of the next installment in the Harry Potter franchise. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, if it does well, could launch another series of movies (and let’s be real, with fans as ravenous as Potterheads, there’s no way this movie is going to flop).
Today Collider published an in-depth interview with the star himself in which he opened up about what it was like to be part of such a huge story, his character Newt Scamander, how Fantastic Beasts differs from the rest of the Potter universe, and what it was like to work alongside completely computer-generated characters. The whole interview is worth a read, but here are some highlights:
On being a Brit on American soil:
here are Americanisms and Newt is an Englishman in New York in the 1920s. He’s been in the field for a year. And so suddenly, he arrives in New York and everything is so huge. I remember the first time I went to New York when I was about eight or nine and staying at this hotel and just opening the window and just seeing Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in front of you and then just these buildings flying up and being kind of totally overwhelmed by it. There were things I related to, certainly, in this sort of American-British thing.
On working opposite computer-generated co-stars:
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