J. K. Rowling’s new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is released in theaters this week. The film is set in 1926’s New York, and it portrays an adventure of the best biologist in the magic world, who travels around the world to look for fantastic creatures. Although the film is different from the Harry Potter Series’ settings, the fact that the characters share the same view of the magic world itself excites Harry Potter fans. Also, it is important to notice that J. K. Rowling had written the screenplay of the film. Furthermore, Eddie Redmayne is in the main cast. As a British actor, he received much love from Hollywood through his films, The Theory of Everything (2014) and The Danish Girl (2015), and Fantastic Beasts is Redmayne’s first blockbuster movie. The film was directed by David Yates, who led a total of four Harry Potter films to great successes. In July of this summer, The Korea Daily met Eddie Redmayne in Los Angeles and talked about the film.
Considering the styles of your previous films, Fantastic Beasts seems like an unexpected choice. Are you trying to reach a broader stratum of audience?
“Not really. I have never selected a film with strategies and tactics. I just believe in my instinct of whether I feel attached to the story or not. In the case of this film, I was impressed by its great harmony of a variety of genres including action, thriller, romance, and comedy. There is also a very touching aspect towards the end of the film. While I was reading the scenario, I was surprised that all of these are included in a single story, so I said yes.”
I heard J. K. Rowling and David Yates were thinking of you for Newt’s role starting very early.
“It is such a pleasure to be a cast in this great film, but at the same time I still get afraid. What if the director says on the first day of shooting, “Wait a minute, are you seriously going to act like that? That’s not acceptable”. So I went to other actors’ auditions and read my lines for each of them. I heard people saying that I was even more nervous than those actors (laugh).”
I believe it wasn’t easy to play a character who is a little cartoon-y and unrealistic.
“I worried a lot at the beginning. It was after I practiced playing several real people that were very helpful for this role, so it was even more confusing. I wasn’t sure where to begin, but Rowling helped me out. She not only included specific and lively descriptions of Newt’s character in the script, but also answered me with passion every time I asked her questions. I turned out that she had extensive background stories of each character and scene. She was like a moving encyclopedia.”
It looks like the way Newt’s movements are pretty unique.
“It wasn’t easy to catch Newt’s physical characteristics. In the script, there is one expression of ‘He walks with his own rhythm’, and it took a long time for me to find out what this meant. Newt is awkward when he is surrounded by other people, but he looks very natural and soft when he is with animals. So I met people whose job is to take care of animals, listened to their stories, and observed their behavior. I also got much help from Alex Reynolds, who is a choreographer and a movement coach. This was my third work with her after she helped me with The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl.”
Was it difficult to act while imagining animals that would be CGI-effected?
“The pressure was real as I have not a good experience of trying such acting. So I personally asked the director that I join every process that would help me with imagination. I joined them when they were designing the animals and making models, so I was able to draw finished animals in my head.
In an interview a few years ago, you said that you struggle with anxiety and pressure for every movie. Do you still do?
“I still do. To make a great performance, I need to relax, but movie-making process is like an endless anxiety for me. This film, which had an extremely high product cost, was especially hard for me. They not only created a huge set of the city of New York, but also had thousands of extras. If I made a mistake, it took 20 minutes only to reset. It was hard for me to overcome the stress and pressure that I can’t ruin this. Fortunately, director David Yates and many crew members helped me reduce my anxiety. Each of them was the best professional in their fields, so they made me feel very friendly and comfortable as if we were shooting smaller scale film.
You have been working with many great directors. Can you tell us anything particularly special about director David Yates?
“He is a director ‘for the actor’. He takes care of staff and about 70 teams including props, makeup, and costume with details, but his biggest interest and consideration is always the actors. He carefully concerned me and helped me to act in a comfortable environment. His friendliness and softness were the driving force of how I overcome my stress and pressure.
Original article available at
Translated by Audrey Joung