SciFi Now recently spoke to Fantastic Beasts producer David Heyman about the upcoming film, in which he tells us that the first movie alone will have more creatures “than we had in all the Harry Potter movies combined”.
We also learn that we can expect a few more creatures in the film that we’ve never met before in the Wizarding World.
Scans of the magazine can be found in our gallery and a full transcript can be read by clicking the ‘Continue’ link below:
Five years ago the prospect of a film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would have seemed ridiculous. It would have been – and probably was – tossed around jokingly by fans as an idea for a future spin-off series while we were all still suffering from crippling Harry Potter withdrawal. Now, however, we’re not just getting a Fantastic Beasts film; we’re getting three of them.
Since the very first announcement of the film – that it would be set in Twenties New York and that Eddie Redmayne was to play the protagonist – Fantastic Beasts author Newt Scamander, millions of Potter fans all over the world have been eagerly following the film’s progress with about as much enthusiasm as they showed while awaiting the final book.
We’ve only seen one trailer so far, but the film has already brought with it staggering revelations about the wizarding world, including the fact that the US’s Hogwarts equivalent is called Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that Americans call muggles ‘no-maj’ – short for ‘no magic’, instead of muggles. What is that about?
As well as giving us a greater understanding of the witches and wizards that hail from the United States, Fantastic Beasts will provide us with a first look at magic from the past.
“1926 was an incredible time in New York, with enormous cultural changes and modern skyscrapers being constructed alongside more classical architecture,” says producer David Heyman. “What’s fun about Fantastic Beasts is that we have an opportunity to bring the audience into an entirely different time and place in the wizarding world, but [production designer] Stuart Craig’s brilliant designs keep everything – even the most magical of settings – grounded in reality.”
Seeing as how Fantastic Beasts is basically a skinny textbook, director David Yates had to get Newt’s story from somewhere. That ‘somewhere’ ended up being J.K Rowling herself, who used the opportunity to pen her very first screenplay. Heyman, who produced all of the Harry Potter films, says it was a pleasure to have her on the crew.
“It was tremendously exciting to work with Jo as a screenwriter,” he tells us. “It was remarkable how seamlessly she embraced this ‘new’ form! She has written these wonderful vivid characters, and also this imaginative magical world, a fantastic canvas for David Yates, Stuart Craig, [costume designer] Colleen Atwood and our incredible cast and crew to work with. As with Potter, she gave incredible freedom and support to everyone and had tremendous respect for their creative process.
“Unlike the Harry Potter series,” Heyman continues, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a book with no narrative. It’s quite exciting working on something set in Jo’s world, where none of the public yet knows the story! It’s also fun to be working in New York in 1926, in parts of the American magical world!”
Although the book itself is only 128 pages long, it has a staggering amount of beasts crammed into it. Seeing as the Harry Potter films feature only a handful of those beasts, there were a heck of a lot left over to debut in the film. So how did the crew pick and choose which creatures would make the cut? Surely it would be impossible for anyone to choose a favourite out of a flobberworm, a chimaera and a glumbumble?
“The decision as to what creatures to include came from Jo and grew organically from the story she was telling. You’ve seen a Niffler in the trailer, and also Swooping Evil, which is a creature not included in the book. There are plenty more beasts and creatures in the film – some from the book, others not – some witty, some mischievous, some scary.
“We have a lot more creatures in this film than we had in all the Harry Potter movies combined. It’s an incredible opportunity for us as storytellers and for our visual effects team,” Heyman tells us. “Our animation director, Pablo Grillo, has been involved from the beginning working with the design team to ensure that there was a logic to the way each character looked and moved. We have also brought in a sound team very early, so we were able to integrate the sound with the design and the movement to produce a beast that you believe might just be able to exist. It is essential to Jo’s work on the page and David’s work on screen to have that kind of believability – to allow the characters to engage with with creatures in a credible way.”
Sadly, since the film is set two years before Rubeus Hagrid is born, there will likely be no Blast-Ended Skrewts.