One of the highlights of any Fantastic Beasts movie is the quirky ways that Newt Scamander interacts with the magical creatures. One scene, in particular, will have audiences rolling with laughter. Eddie Redmayne talks about how it’s become a staple in the franchise.
How many takes were necessary to get that incredible sequence?
Eddie Redmayne – I don’t know. It all stems from the Erumpent mating dance in the first movie. And clearly, there’s something that tickled David, Joe, and Steve. And basically, in each film, there is another iteration which is written intricately in detail and character, and it’s that Eddie makes a tool of himself. But of course, we took it incredibly seriously. And we spent a long time, David and I and Alex Reynolds, the movement director I work with, talking about, ‘how could this be… let’s look at wildlife programs.’
ER – We did some very embarrassing outtakes, which probably existed for me sending videos to David going, ‘How about this?’ Really intense dance things. And then eventually it was, ‘How about I just wiggle and put my hands in the air. At the same time, the special effects department was coming up with ideas of what the creatures might be, so it ended up being, I’d love to say, a marriage, but it was more a sort of car crash collision of two ridiculousness that met together?
ER – The weird thing is it was bloody exhausting. David had me coming down the whole prison, and by the time I got to the lines [panting], I had to hold this lantern that was weirdly heavy because it was the entire way that I was lighting this huge cave. It was quite a bit, but it was all worth it when Callum had to have a go.
Which is your favorite fantastic beast?
I adore Picket. I love that in this movie, Picket and the sweet and incredibly complicated niffler, Teddy, joined forces, and he realized that they’re kind of like the siblings that have had a consistent rivalry either in my coat pocket or down in the case. And here, they’re forced to step up. And they do spoiler alert.
Have you learned anything personally from your time playing as Next Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts series because he seems to have matured and grown a lot over the films?
Oh, that’s a lovely question, actually. I adore Newt. And there are many things that I love about him. I love that he’s an incredibly empathetic person. He looks for the good in people. He’s also very happy in his own company and in the company of creatures. He is someone that enjoys silence. There are various epithets or things that he said, which I now try and live by. One is that ‘worrying means you suffer twice,’ which was in the first movie. I am a great warrior. I always tell myself, if the horrendous thing is going to happen, there’s no point worrying about it anyway, and then you’re just gonna have doubled your pain. And there’s something that he says to Dumbledore in this piece, which I adore, we all make mistakes in life, but you can try and make things better. It’s the trying that counts. It’s the aspiring to make things better that occurs. Sometimes you go, ‘I’ve really screwed that up. I’m just gonna hide away in my hovel and put up the sort of exoskeleton.’ I love the way he thinks. It’s all about trying to make things better.
All the Harry Potter fans already have been waiting for the moment that your character returns to Hogwarts. How was it for you to film that moment?
It’s pretty amazing. I’ve got to say one of our first scenes it was wasn’t actually Hogwarts, but it was in the Hogshead, and it was a group of us, and we got to sit there and drink butterbeer next to a roaring fire with this group of actors who I adore. And it felt like I had to pinch myself going, ‘This is our job.’ And it was really remarkable. Walking into the great hall was, and watching Dan interact with the little ones. Amazing.
Eddie, it seems that in this film Dumbledore is treating Newt, more like an equal, giving him a position of leadership within the team that he assembles. Can you talk about their relationship and how it’s evolved? And what it’s been like working with Jude on his second film?
I love the new Dumbledore relationship. It’s got that complexity of sort of master and apprentice, but it’s evolved throughout the movies to being something almost fraternal. This one is sort of an older brother, younger brother. And there’s a moment in this film where Newt even takes it upon himself, sees the vulnerability in Dumbledore, and tries to pass on a moment of wisdom to him. What I love about Newt is fundamentally, he’s an introverted guy, and he is most comfortable with his creatures and in his own world. But Dumbledore has seen a quality in him that has the potential for leadership, albeit in an unconventional way. It’s like a wizarding heist movie in which this group of outsiders all band together…the leader is unconventional, and there’s a kind of wonder in that.
As far as working with Jude’s concerned, I adore this man. He was a friend before we started working together. And one of the real joys about working on a series of films is you get to push things. You get to feel so comfortable working with each other that you can push boundaries. There’s a kind of shorthand, so that was kind of joyful.
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE opens in theaters on April 15th.