Leading up to our return to the Wizarding World on April 7 with the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Warner Bros. Pictures very kindly invited me to attend a virtual press conference with the cast and crew of the film, including Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne and Mads Mikkelsen, moderated by
The cast and crew discussed what it’s like playing characters in a world before Harry Potter, celebrating 20 years of the Wizarding World and where all of there characters being their journeys in The Secrets of Dumbledore!
Starting with you Jude (Law), Albus Dumbledore has been with us from the start of the Wizarding World, how has he changed in this film and which of his qualities are most consistent with the Dumbledore we all know and love?
Jude Law: It’s not a process of change, but a process of regression. One of the joys that David really allowed me to investigate and understand that he’s not the fully formed Dumbledore of the Harry Potter books and films. And not to feel weighed down by the brilliant performances of Michael Gambon and Richard Harris. He [Dumbledore] is a man still finding his way, still confronting and resolving his demons. Facing his past, facing himself and his own guilt. But, if there was a quality that linked them [the iterations of Dumbledore], I would say it’s his mischievousness, his humour, and his belief in people. He sees the positives, you think about how Dumbledore believed in Draco, even in Tom Riddle! He sees the good, or the potential good, and I think that’s something he’s always had.
What appealed to you about diving into Dumbledore’s history?
Jude Law: It was a no brainer! ‘Would you like to play Dumbledore?’ ‘Ah, yes!’ I felt like I’d been in preparation subconsciously from the minute I started reading the books to my children. And, gosh, there’s just so much in the character to mine and to investigate as an actor! And that’s before you get into the extraordinary world of magic, that’s just him as a human. I remember Eddie [Redmayne] telling me that on the second film – if there is a situation or problem, you’ve got magic at your disposal.
Eddie [Redmayne], it seems that in this film Dumbledore is treating Newt [Scamander] more like an equal, giving him a position of leadership within the team he assembles. Can you talk about their relationship and how it’s evolved?
Eddie Redmayne: I love the new Dumbledore relationship. What I love is that it’s got that complexity of ‘master and apprentice’, but it’s evolved throughout the movies to being something almost fraternal. I would say in this one is sort of ‘older brother younger brother’. And there’s a moment in this film when 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 is most comfortable with his creatures and in his own world. But, Dumbledore has seen a quality in him that he is has the potential for leadership, albeit in an unconventional way.
Mads [Mikkelsen], congratulations on the new job! You portray one of the most powerful wizards ever, what was it like for you to enter this world and how did you approach Gellert Grindelwald?
Mads Mikkelsen: Yeah, I was thrown into it a little later than the rest of the gang! I mean, they had done two films and were halfway through filming when I joined the party! It’s like a family and you can only hope that they will adopt you, and they did. And for Grindelwald, it wasn’t something where I found myself in the character, this complex character. It was all in David’s [Yates, director] head and we had quite a few conversations with Jude about the link with Dumbledore, about what the relationship looked like. My character is shaped out of that world, nobody in history start’s out saying: “I’m going to be the bad guy.” We have to figure out what his mission is, what’s his goal? Why is he trying to make the world a better place in that manner? I think they [Grindelwald and Dumbledore] started out having a common goal as young adults, or big children [laughs], and then it got blurry. They ways of getting to that goal were different than they imagined.
Jessica [Williams], we do meet Lally briefly in the second movie, but here she is a central character. Tell us a little bit more about her.
Jessica Williams: Professor Lally Hicks is a charms professor at the North American wizarding school. She is a brilliant witch, who I think is a good teacher, and I think she actually went to school with Queenie and Tina at the same time! She’s someone who’s really good at seeing into the heart of people and the heart of the matter. And not only that, but she’s really good at defensive magic. Dumbledore recruits her to help deal with his bad ex [laughs], and I feel this is a good person to call for something like that! In this situation, she trusts Dumbledore, even though she doesn’t necessarily know how things are going to play out, again, because she sees the heart of people.
Alison [Sudol], everything about Queenie has changed from when we first met her, can you share a little bit about her present circumstances, without giving too much away!
Alison Sudol: It’s difficult, isn’t it! I can say so little. At the end of the second film, we see Queenie make a pretty shocking decision, something that no one really expected. But if you follow through the film, and you really think about it, she was sort of in one unfortunate circumstance after another because of the way that the wizarding world operates. All she wants to do is just be with the person she loves, and the narrowmindedness of the world she lives in puts her into a really vulnerable position, where somebody that’s really manipulative can tell her what she wants to hear. That’s going to have an impact. So, at the start of this film, we find her in a world that is very different than any world she’s ever been in before. She’s also being utilised for this tremendous power that she has, that she’s either had to hide in the past, or she’s been made to feel guilty about. And there is something interesting about that, about a person who hasn’t actually been able to live fully as who they are. And I think a lot of young women can relate to what happens when somebody sees that thing in you, that burning part of you that nobody else sees. It’s a tricky, interesting position, we don’t really know where she’s going to go and who she is and how she’s going to move forward. Because she’s at a point in her life where she has sort of two ways to go. That’s what that’s what her journey is now.
Dan [Fogler], when we first see Jacob in this film, it’s clear that he and his bakery has fallen on hard times. Can you talk about where he is at the start of this movie?
Dan Fogler: Jacob kind of reflects the times, in a lot of ways. We’re heading into the Great Depression, he’s extremely down on his luck. It seems like he’s just in this constant state of loss. He’s lost his love. He’s lost his appetite. He’s losing his bakery. It’s like, he’s like losing his mind, you know? He’s very sad when you first see him and then but he still holds that glimmer of hope that Queenie is going to come back. He’s hallucinating and then Lally comes and offers him a chance to come back and join the adventure again. That’s what he does it all for, for his love. That’s his whole motivation.
William [Nadylam], a lot happened to your character in the previous film, where do we find Yusuf Kama in this film?
Yusuf is motivated by pain and vengeance, and that’s a recurring theme. It’s what I love about the writing, we’re talking about humanity and what motivates us, the subtleties that make us. He’s been looking for the person who created the demise of his family and realised he was chasing the wrong target. And when he finds his sister, she burned right in front of his eyes. So, when we find him again, something beautiful happens to him. Dumbledore has provided him with a mission, to be a part of an army and a family led by Newt. He’s been given a purpose.
Victoria [Yeates], Bunty has always played a key role in Newt’s world. What’s her circumstances look like in this film?
Victoria Yeates: She’s just given a more important role. She grows in confidence. She would do anything for her beloved Newt, anything. But you just see her step out of the shadows more and Dumbledore gives her a mission, which will be very important to the film without giving too much away.
And why do you think her feelings aren’t getting through to Newt?
Victoria Yeates: She’s obsessed, I suppose! She idolises Newt, she has watched him for most of her life, growing up in Hogwarts. She loves beasts and is happier being in the basement with them. She wants to be as good as him, and there’s a lot of different levels of love, a lot of respect, unrequited love. It has been eight years, I hope she’ll branch out at some point and get through to him!
David [Yates, director], we recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Wizarding World and you have been a major part of its cinematic history directing seven of the films. What have you loved about being apart of this journey and what is the enduring appeal of the Wizarding World?
David Yates: I think you can see it here on the stage this afternoon, the fact that these stories bring such a collective together to work on them, and there’s something really beautiful and enjoyable about working with the people around me, which is a great pleasure. When you make a movie, it’s a huge logistical enterprise, and it’s tough. Going into that experience with people you respect and admire, but who also can take the strain of it, with some real dignity and some real humour is essential. And that’s the qualities I found in many of the people I work with, in front of the camera and behind the camera. So, if I look back over those seven films, is a very fond memory of the many wonderfully creative people I’ve worked with, across all of them. Our previous episode was quite complicated plot wise for all of us. And it took us a while to figure that one out. And so, with this story, in particular, we wanted it not only to be emotional, but we wanted it to be enjoyable, and for it to be a real treat. And for it to lean into the values of some of the earlier Potter films that had whimsies and charm, humour and humanity.
Thank you again to Warner Bros. Pictures for allowing me to join this magical press conference! Catch Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore when it hits Australian cinemas on April 7!
Be the first to leave a review.