What Eddie Redmayne loves about ‘Fantastic Beasts’
LOS ANGELES—“Every morning you drive past the J and K stages of the ‘Harry Potter’ world. You see the photos of Ralph (Fiennes), Dan (Daniel Radcliffe) and Emma (Watson), and they get you excited. Like, you never lose that childlike excitement.”
That’s how Eddie Redmayne described his feeling as he enters every day the Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios, where the “Potter” movies were shot.
We were with Eddie late last year in those UK studios, where he was filming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
In the second installment of JK Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” series, Eddie is back as “magizoologist” Newt Scamander, along with David Yates as director.
Also in the cast are Johnny Depp (Gellert Grindelwald), Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) and Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone).
What scene are you shooting today? And how has it been filming this sequel so far? If truth be told, today is my day off (laughs). I came to see you, guys. But generally, you arrive at the crack of dawn. There’s always the thrill of what JK Rowling has done.
I find it hilarious because you arrive in the Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, and they’re painted the same colors as the Los Angeles studios. But, I always feel like that color is specific to LA, to baking sunshine and it being beautiful and there being palm trees.
So, you start the day early, then you go through makeup.
The days are varied—from intense emotional scenes, to some sort of slapstick comedy with Dan Fogler. But what’s wonderful is what set designer Stuart Craig has done. Pretty much every new set you go into, your jaw drops.
Nothing makes me happier than watching the new actors on Day One with their wands, because we all feel as actors that we’re meant to know how to use one. Because as a kid, you were always playing with a wand. Suddenly, you get it and you get a bit stage “fright-y” with it, and you’re not quite sure.
Can you describe this set? The film starts six to seven months after the end of the last one. And Grindelwald, Johnny Depp’s character, has been imprisoned after I caught him at the end of the last film.
But, he has been taken back to Europe to be tried for his crimes. Where we are now is at the top of the Macusa (Magical Congress of the United States of America) building.
Ninety percent of the film is set in Paris and London, but the film starts in New York. This is where Johnny is being taken back to Europe.
We learned that this is Day 87 of filming for you. These films are like marathons. But they’re so beautifully produced. Part of that has to do with retaining energies, like being able to keep doing work.
“The Theory of Everything” and “Danish Girl” were eight-week shoots. They were short, sharp blasts. These movies are about pacing yourself. The wonderful thing is that editing is going along simultaneously.
The worst thing as a film actor is the thing where you go home, you’ve done a scene, that’s your only time to do it, and you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re like, “Ah! That’s an idea. I should have tried that.”
But the wonderful thing is, you can come to David and go, “I had that moment the other day, I missed this thing.” And he’s like, “We can try it again.” And that’s a great luxury, and one doesn’t normally have that.
Has your wife (Hannah Bagshawe) visited you on this set? My wife hasn’t been to set this time. It’s only because Iris, our daughter, sleeps in the middle of the day, for two to three hours. So, we’ve been trying to work it out. It’s quite a long drive from our house to here. Iris hates cars, which is annoying, because most children love cars.
When I heard that there are scenes set in Paris, I was dreaming that we’d get to go and shoot on location. When Jude Law got cast, I sent him an e-mail going, “If you haven’t finished your contract yet, will you say you’ll only do it if we actually get to shoot in the real Paris (laughs)?”
But we didn’t go. The second unit got to go.
But, we’re going to shoot on location for Newt’s exterior of his house, which is just around the corner from my house, in a week or two. So, Hannah and Iris are going to come then.
Can you talk about your costars, Johnny and Jude? Oh, it’s cool. With Johnny, we had one day together on the last film. When Johnny was coming to do that shot when he transforms, it was like a parody of secrecy. And Johnny was brilliant. He’s an extraordinary actor.
I actually haven’t seen him yet. So, I’m looking forward to seeing him. I hear from David that Johnny’s been doing beautiful work.
Jude is an old pal. I’ve known Jude for years, socially. I adore him as an actor, onstage and onscreen. It’s been really wonderful because there’s this kind of mentor-student relationship between Dumbledore and Newt.
I think Newt was quite a tricky student in that he didn’t care. He doesn’t care about what other people think of him. He’s completely in his own world, but he’s passionate. He was an outsider. He rubbed people the wrong way.
But, Dumbledore always saw something in Newt. What I love about this film is that they have wit and humor and great respect for each other. But also, the student is willing to challenge the master—and that’s quite cool.
Has JK Rowling been on the set? Yeah. It’s so interesting talking about JK Rowling in terms that aren’t just sycophantic and hyperbolic, but she’s extraordinary and has a work ethic unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. She has this extraordinary capacity to know exactly what she wants and who the characters are, while allowing you freedom to play within that.
She knows the characters, but she isn’t precious with them. You can ask her questions—“Could I try this? How about this?” She’s been on set a lot more on this film than she was on the last film.
Some of these characters aren’t in her books. They’re in her imagination. And we, as actors, want to fulfill her expectations. So, of course, there’s always heightened adrenaline when she’s on set.
And because JK is a producer, she rigorously watches the rushes. And how a character she’s written on the page is interpreted by an actor can then inform the choices she’s making as she’s thinking about the next journey.
I specifically remember what she said to me about Callum Turner, who plays my brother (Theseus Scamander). Like where Theseus was on the page versus seeing how Callum interpreted him has sparked her imagination into something different.
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