The Pottermore Correspondent spent the day at San Diego Comic Con with the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last Saturday, and has released two reports:
‘Katherine, come on! We’re doing an interview with Pottermore,’ calls Eddie Redmayne, from the very back seat of the bus.
‘Have you got biscuits back there?’ comes Katherine Waterston’s reply, like maybe she won’t cooperate without snacks.
‘No,’ I begin, ‘but I promise to bring some next time.’ And I will. This lot has been at press conferences, autograph signings and Facebook Q&As all day and it’s hungry work.
Katherine joins me, Eddie, Alison and Dan. We’re huddled in a little group in the back of a bus in transit between venues at San Diego Comic-Con. These four actors play the main characters in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Newt Scamander, Tina and Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski. This is their first time at Comic-Con as a group, the mammoth fan convention in San Diego. What’s it been like?
‘I feel like what’s extraordinary about Comic-Con is that so much energy comes into the city for four days and you feed off that,’ says Eddie. ‘So, your adrenaline is pumping and pulsating through your body and you kind of feel elated. Slightly like you’re floating on a different planet. You almost can’t take it in; it’s too much visual stimulus.
‘You see people everywhere dressed in costume – I saw a guy dressed as Newt Scamander. I was like “I love it!” And there’s this Funko toy… That’s kind of amazing, although I think I’m going to take mine home and put freckles on it.’
‘Just think of one Harry Potter fan you know and then consider that we’re in a room with thousands,’ adds Katherine. ‘I’ve had conversations where someone is shaking and sweating because they know I’m in Fantastic Beasts. So I keep thinking of those people I know who love it so much, when I’m looking at this sea of smiling faces.’
But it must be hard, I say, to speak about the movie without revealing too much. The cast have been sworn to secrecy on everything from beast names to plot twists.
‘It is tricky because you’re constantly ruling out things in your head,’ says Alison. ‘But there’s so much richness to the human elements of this story, the relationships and the characters. There’s so much to talk about, but it’s actually quite fun to keep the mystery because then you know that people are going to go into the film and actually feel surprised. It’s like Christmas and I got you the best gift!’
Speaking of surprises, Dan got an especially lovely one at San Diego Comic-Con last year. He’s the only one in this group who has been here before, and it wasn’t to promote a film.
‘Oh man, it’s surreal,’ he says. ‘Last year, I was dragging my comics around and that’s really why I was here – to try and hawk my comics. I was in the audition process for this movie. So when they called me and told me I had the part, I was totally unprepared.’
‘Wait, you were here when that happened?’ interjects Eddie, beaming in disbelief.
‘I was here! I was on the floor, in the throng of it, working my way up stream with all my books, I was just sweating…’ says Dan.
‘And you got the call? I’ve got goosebumps,’ says Eddie.
‘My agent said, “Hey, you know, next year’s going to be a lot different,” says Dan. ‘I was just all tears, like I’d got the Golden Ticket. And now, here we are!’
To read the second report, click the link below:
It’s a hot Saturday in San Diego, California. The cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are making their first appearances today at San Diego Comic-Con, and they’ve invited us along for the ride – quite literally, we all get on an enormous bus.
We start in a swish hotel foyer. Colin Farrell emerges holding a breakfast bowl. Katherine Waterston walks by in an elegant black dress. Dan Fogler sits on an armchair, while Alison Sudol floats in with the blonde bob she hides in the film under Queenie Goldstein’s wig. Eddie Redmayne arrives looking quintessentially British, wearing a navy jumper in California sunshine.
We all pile onto the bus to go to Hall H (to the uninitiated, that’s the great big hall where celebrities do their panel interviews at Comic-Con). Alison natters on to Colin, Eddie whispers to Katherine, and Dan makes faces at everyone.
When we arrive, the cast and I part ways for a bit. They’re hustled backstage as I take my seat in the dark among over 6,000 other fans.
Conan O’Brien asks, ‘Do we have any real true Harry Potter fans in here?’ The crowd roars. He introduces David Yates over the screams and David introduces Eddie Redmayne, who is about to surprise the crowd with some magic.
‘If it’s alright with you–’ he slips a wand out from inside his sleeve and bellows ‘LUMOS!’ The house lights come on, the crowd roars even wilder.
Then Eddie leaves the stage and disappears into the pit of fans. He starts producing more wands from his sleeve, giving them to anyone in his path. ‘This is unprecedented,’ says Conan.
Organised chaos ensues as performers dressed in 1920s clothes hand out replicas of Newt Scamander’s wand to every single person present. Eddie asks everyone to raise their wands to the sky and help him cast another spell.
‘LUMOS MAXIMA!’ Eddie Redmayne, and over 6,000 fans hold their wands aloft at San Diego Comic-Con.
Katherine, Colin, Alison, Dan and Ezra Miller join Eddie at the long table on stage. They talk about the wonder of working on a J.K. Rowling film. ‘It’s like getting your Hogwarts letter real late in the game,’ says Ezra, who nominates himself as ‘the biggest Potterhead on set.’
Dan Fogler calls costume designer Colleen Atwood ‘the ultimate gangster.’ Colin Farrell claims to be ‘rocking’ a pair of underwear from the 1920s.
We’re back on the bus. We hurtle towards another venue for a live Q&A on Facebook. Ezra sits at the lobby piano and casually belts out a Rihanna song. Moments later I hear him tell David Yates, ‘I’m so happy, I’m so happy’. And you can tell everyone here truly is.
As the cameras roll, the cast inexplicably make bird noises at one another. It’s a weird, beautiful thing; the kind of thing that only makes sense to a group of actors who’ve spent six months filming a movie together.
Ezra Miller playing a Rihanna cover on piano at San Diego Comic-Con
Here we learn that Colin Farrell’s character, Percival Graves, is ‘a bit like a federal agent;’ that Katherine got ‘wand elbow’ when she first started casting spells; that Alison carried a wand around her own home to practise and that Ezra would desperately like a pet Niffler.
And then we’re on the bus again. It’s autograph time for the cast, who sign hundreds of new Fantastic Beasts posters for fans (many cry, some want to hold hands with the actors, several yell ‘Eddie! Eddie!’ and one shouts ‘Hey, The Lobster!’ at Colin).
The crowd is heaving, which is no wonder given that Comic-Con organisers squeeze 130,000 people into roughly a square mile of space.
Eddie, Katherine, Alison and Dan head to the back with me for an interview. We huddle into four seats and talk about art, fame, keeping secrets and what their first ever Comic-Con was really like.
Next, we’re at an international press conference. The cast, director David Yates and producer David Heyman talk about why we need magic, J.K. Rowling’s ‘quintessential charm and integrity’ and why they came onto the film in the first place.
‘J.K.’s imagination is prolific and powerful,’ says Colin. ‘By the time I’d read page six or seven of this script in my back garden, I was completely transported. The first eight films were in such a beautiful, safe world. Not a world devoid of threat, but a world in which you believe that real good can happen. There’s never been a time when those movies have been on [television] that I’ve switched away from them.’
Fantastic Beasts cast and creative team, David Heyman, David Yates, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler.
L-R, David Heyman, David Yates, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler.
‘I had a similar experience,’ says Katherine. ‘I understood Tina [Goldstein, her character] and who she was within the first few pages. J.K. Rowling’s characters are always so vivid, so human and so soulful.’
‘We’re all outsiders in this film,’ says Eddie. ‘Newt is an outsider with a massive heart. It’s really about connecting and finding the passion in each other.’
Journalists fire a few more questions at the gang. Moments later – because this movie is about beasts – we finish the day with Ezra mentioning a bearded lizard he met in Costa Rica and Colin talking about a suicidal camel he rode along the beach. And with that, it’s hugs and farewells as the crew head off for final interviews and flights back home. But not before one last trip on the bus, of course!