The first piece of casting for the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff is falling into place, and it appears as though the film will be led by an Oscar winner. We learned in April that The Theory of Everything star and most recent Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne was the frontrunner to lead Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and now Variety reports that he’s been offered the role and is officially in talks to sign on.
Redmayne was apparently interested in the part but wanted to wait to see the finished script before signing on. J.K. Rowling is penning the screenplay adaptation of her own book, and now that the script has been delivered, Redmayne likes what he sees and is ready to move forward. Variety notes that director David Yates—who also helmed the final four Harry Potter films—“may be considering a few other actors”, but Redmayne has the “inside track.” Which means if for some reason talks with Redmayne break down, other actors are under consideration.
The story of Fantastic Beasts takes place in New York, seven decades before the Harry Potter saga, and follows the adventures of author Newt Scamander, a “magiczoologist”. It’s clear from the new setting and time period that while Fantastic Beasts takes place in the Harry Potter universe, it’ll be offering a look at a whole other side of it. Indeed, the other four main roles in the movie besides Scamander are Americans, two girls and two boys. That’s a major departure from the Potter franchise, which was populated mainly by British actors and characters. Moreover, the first Fantastic Beasts film will kick off “at least a trilogy” of movies, hopefully riding on the success of the Potter franchise.
Yates and Warner Bros. begin meeting next week for the female lead, but wanted to lock Redmayne into the Scamander role before those tests begin. The actor most recently completed shooting The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper’s drama The Danish Girl, in which Redmayne plays a pioneer of the transgender community. He’ll no doubt be back in the awards race later this year when that film hits theaters.
Producer David Heyman previously told us that the aim was to begin production on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this summer, but that may have been pushed back a bit seeing as how the first piece of casting is only just coming together. Regardless, the highly anticipated picture is slated for release on November 18, 2016.