Los Angeles — Two years ago, we were on the London set of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
This year, we talk to the cast of the sequel, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald,” in Palihouse in West Hollywood, who bring us once again into the mystical world of J.K. Rowling, the author and screenwriter of the franchise.
Leading the cast is award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne who reprises his role as Newt Scamander, Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone, Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, and Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein.
They talk about the David Yates-helmed film, adjusting to fame, learning some lessons in life among others. Below are excerpts of our conversations with them:
On revisiting this character and what surprised him:
The amazing thing about these films for us because there are no books, is that we really don’t know what is coming. There’s this extraordinary moment and we get hints when we jump into Jo and she will speak into the ear, to some of us, gentle little suggestions, but until we get that script, we have no idea.
Reading a script is like reading one of her books for the first time. I was so thrilled because we are getting to see the film and I have had to repress those secrets for so long.
I adore the character because he has such a wonderful heart and he is so true to himself. But I feel like he has created this world for himself having been an outsider all his life where he is comfortable and has a great morality, but is that enough?
What I like about this film is that when things were happening in the world, that are as extreme as they are in this film; at some point, is it enough that you have to engage basically?
On working with Johnny Depp and Jude Law:
When I heard that they were cast in this, having grown up loving their work, you do pinch yourself, you do. I had always dreamt of working with Jude. The first scene that I had shot with him, when he looks around, looks over his shoulder and captures the kind of gravitas but with the kind of twinkle and this mercurial to capture a kind of iconic character at one glance, was pretty formidable.
Johnny, I had also known quite a bit and what I love about Johnny in the first film — because he had that one day in the first film and I was one of the only actors to work with him — he came in just to shoot his reveal, when Colin turns into him. And he went to his trailer and he had his team and he went in as Johnny and then he emerged with his hair shaved blonde out into the world as Grindelwald and his eyes, that is who I saw. He went back and the next step, he emerged out as Johnny with the hair dyed black again and back into it.
I love how he was very protective of that process, but when he was on set, he couldn’t have been more generous-spirited and all of us were in that big empty theater. It’s just an amazing thing because when he had to genuinely get hundreds and almost thousands of supporting artists buoyed and that is theater, like playing for a Colosseum. At the same point he had this kind of seductive charm for the camera which is so close was amazing.
On who impressed him the first time he worked with them:
From an actor’s point of view, this is a slightly shitty answer, but Alison Janney [impressed me the first . I just adore Alison Janney.
When I met her, it was actually after the Golden Globes, the year of “The Theory of Everything” because I was a massive “West Wing” fan. And Hannah, my wife, knew that I was obsessed with her and I saw her at a party afterwards and she went, "what’s wrong?" And I said, "that is Alison Janney over there."
Hannah went over to Alison at this post-Golden Globes party and went, "hi Alison, I am Hannah, Eddie’s wife, that guy over there. He’s about to come over and make a complete fool of himself and I am so sorry and it’s really humiliating." I did and she was heavenly.
The other person I adore, just because I respect her work so much and she has this warmth and wonder, is Olivia Colman.
On adjusting to fame:
The honest truth is, I feel incredibly lucky and I feel, because I have a wonderful wife and have two extraordinary touch wood children, I don’t take that for granted.
The second thing is, all of those things that you said about fears and worries and fame, fame never gets usual.
There was a moment, three days after Luke was born, we were at home and he had a sleepless night. I had a sleepless night. I wake up at five in the morning to loads of emails saying that Stephen Hawking had died.
People were like, you have got to go on the radio and people from the British Press were like, you have got to come do this and I was like, wait a minute.
I found it rapacious the appetite, but also going, I had to register that and we came very close to his family, so the idea of me going and talking, it was an odd day and a sad day.
But Luke had also just been born, so it was a great thing and I had also been sleep deprived. I had walked out of my flat in London because the doorbell had gone and it was an Amazon delivery, I was in my socks and the next thing on a newspaper, “Eddie Redmayne Bereft After Stephen Hawking’s Death,” and walking the streets of London sort of sockless. Shoeless.
And also, they showed up at my front door and I have a young family. Now I know that, that is what comes with the territory and I am incredibly lucky, but you never get used to it.
That’s the more extreme version — you don’t get used to it. We were just at Universal Studios and people come up dressed as Newt Scamander and you never get used to it or the joy of people who have seen specific films that have moved them. I think if anyone could understand any of that, it would probably drive you a bit bonkers. So what I have tried to do is just put one foot in front of the other.
But the thing that I am most grateful about is, I am inherently someone who doesn’t love the sort of nomadic life and Hannah is much better at it. She is like footloose and fancy-free and I am like, I want to know what I am doing.
On what he likes about "Fantastic Beasts":
What has been wonderful for me about “Fantastic Beasts” is that not only do they push your imagination as actors, because you are working with puppeteers, dancers and special effects people, but all of them are like, it’s a whole different way and process.
No scene is ever the same, so your mind is put to extreme places. But, I hope we get to make five films. But there is a certain consistency that you know that every two years you will be in London for a set period and then the rest of the time, between the first and the second film, because when I made “The Danish Girl” I was promoting “Theory,” and when I was making “Fantastic Beasts” I was promoting “The Danish Girl” and I have just been working.
Then between the first and second film getting time to breathe and be with Iris and Hannah. It’s the greatest luxury, because now between the films, I can choose other things like “The Aeronauts” or hopefully the trial of the Chicago Seven for things that are theater and things that intrigue me whilst knowing that I still get to come back to this wonderful world and Jo’s world every couple of years.
On whether he knows how the five books end and if he has any arc:
I have no idea. We had this amazing thing where we went to Alabama the other day, to this low-income school where 75 percent of the kids have their lunch paid for them and three teachers a couple of years ago realized that the kids were responding to the “Potter” books and so they decorated all of their classrooms in the “Potter” houses.
They decorated their corridor as the Hogwart’s corridor and the results of their school are extraordinary and the teachers, they used money from their own pocket and the community. We went to this school to surprise these guys. It was extraordinary. That was a long-winded side bar saying that we got back to Los Angeles and we found out that Jo had tweeted that the next film or some of the next film, was going to be set in Rio de Janeiro. We didn’t know that was coming.
So we get told when you get told. A lovely thing, a scene in this with Bunty, my assistant, we are down in the vaults and I don’t know if you have seen it. She is a lovely actress called Victoria Yeates and she is only in one scene. But Victoria and I were like, "Jo, what is their relationship?" She wrote three pages worth of back story of how these characters met. But the answer is we don’t know how the books will end.
On being the coolest dad to his kids after doing the “Fantastic Beasts” movie:
I have achieved some brownie points for this. Yeah, they are very intrigued, because like so many households, the “Harry Potter” books and then the films, were a big part of our household.
Growing up, I read them all bedtime stories, and they were all the “Potter” books and we would go on holidays where we would listen to Steven Fry reading it to us on the cassette. So for me to now be a part of it is a very exciting thing.
On his first mentors:
A good teacher has patience. My parents were both teachers. I was never taught by them, but they were wonderful teachers at home. They were teachers of life. They were both incredibly patient and generous with their time and love.
My sister and I are both in businesses that are meant to be impossible to get into and impossible to succeed in and we both do pretty well. She is a painter and I am an actor, so they did something right. They certainly encouraged us to follow our passions and our dreams. They were very encouraging.
There is something about Albus Dumbledore that I always imagined was like the Robin Williams character in “Dead Poets Society” and I think there was a little sliver of anarchy about him when he encouraged them to rip out pages in their books and jump out of windows and find themselves. That is an interesting way of approaching teaching. If you can encourage people to enjoy learning and not necessarily good at anything, but to encourage or ignite curiosity, that is actually a wonderful thing.
On what fatherhood has taught him about himself:
It’s interesting talking to some of the younger members in this cast and we are on the road and they were talking about finding themselves aside from their acting career, so finding themselves so that their film career didn’t define them. I was saying what a smart move that was.
I was reflecting on my own life and I was realizing that that really is what my children afforded me. It just so happened that just at the time that my career took off and I actually got some recognition and the work started coming in, I became a dad. I was about 24, 25. They always provide for me an anchor, a sense of reality that you could go home and, well I personally, you can’t lose your head with your children, because they just want you to be their dad. I owe them that. They have kept me in check. They have kept me real and obviously, they have filled me with love. So I owe them a lot. Hopefully, they owe me a lot.
On things he has learned looking back at his life:
Life is about learning lessons. Life is about looking and not repeating and absorbing and steering yourself wisely into happier, more serene territory. But I don’t regret and change anything, because each twist and turn and up and down has led me to where I am now, and I am in a really good place right now. I remember my mom telling me that life is a journey from one end to the other and if you go straight there, it’s very short and very boring, but if you go up and down like that, it’s much more varied and much more interesting. And if you pull that out, it’s a lot longer too, so you get a lot more time.
On feeling like a man at 45:
You underestimate how long you are a young man for rather than a man. It’s interesting that my oldest son, he is in his early 20's and he and his friends are going through this exactly right now, where they all think they are men.
There’s a funny part of you when you look on 20 odd years later and you think, well I think you got a few more lessons to learn. But being a man nowadays, we have got a lot to take on board. We have to be more compassionate and light-hearted than ever before, and considerate, sensitive. Interesting times to be a man.
On who he wanted to hire as his manager if he had that fantasy job in the music business:
Gosh, right now? My son. No, he would never have me. It would be a nightmare. He wouldn’t listen to a word I would say and that would be disastrous.
I would have loved to have been involved in David Bowie’s career. He was just a divine artist and to be around that level of creativity and to be able to see his expression, not just through his music, but through design, movement and moving picture, everything, he was a consummate artist. I don’t know that I would be able to contribute much, but I think I would like to sit around watching him at work.
On having a sense of family and identity:
I'm aware that I'm the least cool member of my own immediate family and that's why I'm here. That's why I do this stuff and they don't. They're too cool to even be here at all. That's why I came to represent them but no, my immediate family is amazing.
I recently found out that on my mother's side I may be descended from the Jewish who first invented the cold cut so I have the greatest lineage of all time because cold cuts are the greatest. So my journey has been different from Credence's in that regard.
On how acting came his way:
When I left school, I played football. I played football all my life and there’s a performance element to that that I enjoyed. I always loved films, ever since I was two years old. My mom realized that she could just put me in front of the TV and then she had two hours off. A variation of films from “Free Willy” to “The Emerald Forest” and Disney’s “Anastasia,” all films like chick flicks, dramas, and serious films, whatever. I got to 19 and I was like, "what actually am I going to do? Am I going to focus on what do I love?" It was to try and get into the film industry, to try to work in film, and this was the most daring of all the options.
I did a couple of short films for some students and I enjoyed it. I liked it and I did a couple of plays, very low key stuff. Then I got an agent. I tried to get into drama school, I couldn’t get in.
Then I used the first three years as drama school. I did some ITV things, BBC things, and I worked with John Boorman, who is obviously a living legend, who did “Deliverance” and “Point Blank.” I met my acting coach the same time as doing that film and both of those things really inspired me. That is when I decided to take it seriously, try and learn.
On what we need to change from the past:
I don’t know if anybody read that New York Times Magazine article this summer about when we knew about global warming and didn’t do anything? It was a very upsetting article. There’s so many things, but that’s just the first that came to mind. But we could have made a big difference in the 70’s and now we have to work extra hard. It would have been hard then. So, I would have had that history play out a little differently back then. — LA, GMA News