Since its announcement, everyone’s been pretty tight-lipped about the next installment in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We’ve had casting news, yes, but without knowing who these characters are they’ve been largely meaningless (beyond “oh, I like that actor”). Now, finally, thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we’ve got actual stuff to report.
And a lot of people are going to have to update their fanfic.
First up is the basic set-up for the film. It’s not so much the plot, as it is where we first meet the characters.
Eccentric magizoologist Newt Scamander (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York (for a reason we won’t disclose) with his trusty weathered case. This case is one of those way-way-way-bigger-on-the-inside magical devices, and within are expansive habitats for a collection of rare and endangered magical creatures from Newt’s travels around globe. He discovers the American wizarding community is fearfully hiding from Muggles (who are called “No-Maj” in the States) and the threat of public exposure is an even graver concern than in the UK (remember the Salem witch trials?). Fantastic Beasts is the story of what happens when this uniquely skilled English wizard travels to wiz-phobic America and a variety of his creatures, some quite dangerous … get out of their case.
So it’s not quite what everyone assumed, which was that the film would chronicle Scamander’s research, but instead what kind of trouble he gets into during those travels. EW does point out that the studio’s early plans were to “make a faux documentary about the book’s ‘author’ Newt Scamander tracking all sort of magical beasties.” Weird.
By the way, did you catch the quick aside that in the US, they’re not called “muggles?” That’s sure to cause some distress in certain circles of the fandom.
We also have some character descriptions to go along with the casting we’ve heard so much about.
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
An eccentric globe-hopping English “magizoologist” wizard who’s far more comfortable around beasts and creatures than he is around other people. Comes to New York on a quest with his case full of magical habitats containing rare and endangered species.
Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein
An ambitious worker at the Magical Congress of the United States of America (aka MACUSA, the U.S. version of the Ministry of Magic) who meets Newt. Tina is relegated to an office well below her abilities after she stood up for the wrong person. She longs to fight for what’s right.
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Tina’s younger sister and roommate, a big-hearted free-spirit “legilimens” who can read minds.
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Colin Farrell as Graves
A powerful auror and the right-hand man of the American wizarding world’s president.
Samantha Morton as Mary Lou
The narrow-minded leader of the fanatical Second Salemers, a group looking to expose and destroy wizards and witches.
Ezra Miller as Credence
Perhaps the cast’s most mysterious character. He’s Mary Lou’s troubled adopted son.
There’s some very cool stuff there. Colin Farrell as an auror is inspired. An anti-wizard hate group? I love it. And they name themselves after a shameful part of American history? Even better.
Sorry we don’t have pictures for those last few, but we’ve got a bunch of other pics to make up for it.
And if you missed it the other day, here’s the film’s official logo.