Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston on ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

 Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Eddie Redmayne Katherine Waterston

Being part of one of the the most anticipated film in years would be nerve-wracking for some young actors but Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston relished the opportunity to dive into the colorful production that was FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

Set in the world created by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, the film takes place in 1926 and follows Newt Scamander as he finds and documents and must recover a few when they escape during a stopover in New York.

At a recent press day, the two sat down to discuss the fantasy’s wild physical demands, inspiration for their characters and how the time period influenced their acting choices.

What was it like filming the mating ritual?

Eddie Redmayne: One of the wonderful things about this script is that J.K. Rowling not only writes astonishing words, but the descriptions between were so detailed, and you kind of wanted to swim in those for a while. But that moment in the script, I’ve never seen her use fewer words. It just went “Newt performs mating dance.” I was just reading it, “oh and Newt performs mating dance. ” Wait, What?
I made a quick call to Alexandra Reynolds who is a choreographer who I worked with on THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING and THE DANISH GIRL and I was like, ‘I need help on a mating dance!’ So we went down a You Tube hole of mating bird calls, mating this that and the other. Once every few days I would’ve had a hardcore drink but it was in the middle of the day, and Alex would film me doing an amazing dance and we would send it to David Yates and there would be this absolutely horrific four hour period when I would wait for a reaction. And then a very serious reaction would come back, ‘I don’t think this is quite seductive enough. I’m not sure about any of it.’ It was a long process and eventually made what you see in the film. There is about 10 videos out there somewhere in the world that could end my career! Katherine Waterson: The thing that’s so great about her is she doesn’t butter you up. So she’s making a video of him doing something ridiculous and laughing outright. I just can’t imagine what she’s got on her phone.

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What inspired your role?

Katherine Waterson: I thought a lot about my grandmothers when I was working on this. One of them was a secretary in New York who took the elevated trains that are no longer in the city but are in the film from Inwood where she lived to somewhere around 42 Street where she worked. I thought about her, a young woman in New York while we were working on this. My other grandmother who was a total punk and a pre-feminism feminist. She was an artist and was very independent minded and courageous and smart. It didn’t seem to be improbable that there were women like this back then. There have always been women like that. The reason why I’m wearing trousers in the film is because Colleen Atwood pulled a few skirts for my first fitting and I just didn’t see how she would wear that. In my mind I thought she’s so practical that it seems like a hard thing running around the city investigating. I think that’s how a lot of women ended up (wearing pants). Fashion followed the feminism in a way. If you had some practical labor or work to do you couldn’t do it in a skirt so you put on the trousers.

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How did the function of saving children in the film influence your role?

Eddie Redmayne: It locked down to Ezra’s (Miller) brilliance. Amongst the mass and chaos Ezra would be there for us to play to, and he has extraordinary of wisdom to him and also finding his inner child and that sort of fragility I found unearthing. Also around the time I’d been introduced to (this topic) there was an article in the UK Sunday Times about Lumos, J.K. Rowling’s charity. I had no idea about the institutionalization of children in countries. It was something I’d been reading around and felt as J.K. Rowling manages to do, in this huge epic scale film it felt very true. There’s also something about repression that’s really interesting. There’s a charity in Africa called Dramatic Need in which they use teaching drama as a way for people who have suffered things at home that they can’t articulate. It’s through creating plays and telling stories that has a catharsis in it. I found that kind of intriguing.

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Katherine Waterson: Yeah. I agree with all of that. One challenge you have in films is to invite the audience into a history that they’re not exactly privy to. Creedence and Tina have a past. He doesn’t remember it maybe, but she has been concerned about his for a while, before the film starts. That’s always a sort of scary challenge as an actor–there are no words to help tell this bit, and I don’t know how the audience will feel this connection, concern or bond. But then when I met Ezra, I was like ‘oh, it’s going to be fine.’ I just love this dude. So, like, I don’t have to think about this so much. I look at him and I care about him. That part of it sort of came naturally. That’s sorta to his credit.

Did you eat a lot of strudel?

Katherine Waterson: No! It wasn’t in the movie! The strudel wasn’t–oh wait, we actually did have a strudel on the table but it didn’t…You know, movie food starts to look sad pretty quickly (we all laugh). Five hours in, there’s flies.

Eddie Redmayne: And worse. I don’t want to break your heart, but at the end, the amazing pastries that look like the animals, they’re made of foam.

Katherine Waterson: You know, I did salivate when I saw those pastries.

Eddie Redmayne: They looked so real, and I sat there salivating at the window. I went inside and picked one up, and was like ‘oh my god, it’s not even shoe pastry, dammit!’

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