Last night Warner Bros. confirmed the running rumor that Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne will lead as ‘Newt Scamander’ in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The spin-off of Harry Potter will be penned by J.K. Rowling herself (making it her screenwriting debut) and will directed by David Yates, who helmed the final four H.P. films. Redmayne is best known for his portrayal of famous physicist Stephen Hawking, for which he received immense critical praise.
For those unaware (tsk tsk), Fantastic Beasts is a textbook that all first-year students are Hogwarts are required to obtain. Rowling wrote and published the meta-magizoology book in 2001, during the gap between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, which describes a series of known beasts that crawl, slither, and fly about the wizarding world.
In the film canon the book is lightly mentioned, and, if you’ve got a quick eye, Newt Scamander’s name mysteriously and inexplicably appears on the Marauder’s Map in Prisoner of Azkaban. It will be interesting to see whether or not some of the H.P. veterans will make cameo appearances in any form, depending on how much it portrays of Scamander’s early years. I’m sure there will be a few easter eggs regardless!
While expanding the horizons of an established franchise is ambitious, I think Fantastic Beasts has a lot going for it. It’s likely that the film will expand the mythology of the Harry Potter universe, even more so than the book. And with a historic early 1900’s New York setting, Rowling on the script, and Redmayne’s incredible talent, it’s possible we’ll receive a magical new film franchise to reinvigorate our latent Potter cravings.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set to release on November 18th, 2016.