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! ‘ ”
“As a kid I was obsessed with magic,” he explained. “When I was 6 or 7 years old, I made a trail around Edinburgh looking for magic shops.”
In the new movie, the first installment of a planned five-film series, Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, the eventual author of the textbook, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” studied by Harry Potter and his classmates.
Set in 1926 New York, Scamander is an aspiring author and bumbling collector. Chaos ensues when he accidentally mixes up his magical case full of creatures with a similar-looking satchel belonging to a human (Dan Fogler) — and a bureaucratic witch (Katherine Waterston) interferes.
Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton may play the nominal villains in “Fantastic Beasts,” but there are other formidable foes looming off-screen. It opens at the box office up against Marvel’s own magic act, “Doctor Strange,” and in the shadow of its predecessors.
The eight “Harry Potter” films earned $7.7 billion worldwide, making it the most lucrative franchise in film history.
But producer David Heyman says the new story wasn’t conjured up as a money grab. It originated from co-producer Lionel Wigram’s idea to shoot a fake documentary about the textbook author. Rowling loved the basic idea, but opted to write a script herself. The results, of course, were magical.
“Ultimately these stories are coming out because J.K. Rowling feels a need to tell them,” said director David Yates.
Redmayne’s journey into that world may have taken a while, but the wait was worth it just for one scene.
“There is one scene in the film in which I’m swept up on the back of this creature called an Occomy,” he said.
“The reality of shooting that was that I was on this gigantic green bucking bronco (contraption) suspended in the air with two men in full-body, green condom suits swinging that thing around as I tried to deliver lines about teapots and insects.
“My inner 9-year-old was having the best time of his life.” [Source]