Last year, Warner Brothers invited a group of journalists to the London set of Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Production was just getting off the ground, but we were able to see some truly spectacular sets (more on that in a bit). We were also fortunate enough to speak with some of the mega-talent behind the series, including producer David Heyman, director David Yates, costume designer and living legend Colleen Atwood, supervising art director Martin Foley, as well as stars Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, and Callum Turner (a new face to the franchise who plays Newt’s older brother Theseus). They all gave us really interesting perspectives on the sequel, its connections to Harry Potter, and what they learned from the first movie. And whatever they couldn’t reveal specifically they made up for in charm.
Below, Miller talks about Credence joining the Circus Arcanum, how much he loves all of the costuming, Credence’s wounds and how he has never been able to love or trust anyone before, the creativity on set, and why it’s allllll sicky nar nar:
QUESTION: So can you talk a little bit about Credence’s journey? It seems like he’s much freer now in this movie, so where is headed?
EZRA MILLER: Well, I would say that he is both free and burdened in new ways. Obviously, there is an element of self-awareness that brings both of those factors into play. So he’s free of a lot of the confines he’s known, and he’s free of a sense of uncertainty that he’s known. But with the consciousness of his reality comes also heavy burdens, and obviously, he’s a bit of a ticking time bomb, given his particular magical condition. And there is a burden that comes in the form of a burning need to know more about who he actually is and to understand the roots that he’s growing from. Because obviously he’s had a very fragmented experience up to this point. So this quest for identity, which I can’t relate to at all. No one knows what that’s like to try and figure out who you are! It’s obscure, you know.
With a journey like his, are you guys truly on just a film-by-film basis, where you only know what you need to know for this film?
MILLER: Sometimes we’re given glimpses into the crystal ball by, you know, the metaphorical Professor Trelawny. We do get a little bit of divination going. Sometimes to give a sense … some people are playing out longer arcs. But there’s definitely a lot that we do not know. There’s a lot that no one knows except for J.K. Rowling. You know what I mean? At all times it, it’s amazing. It creates actually a really dynamic experience of, I think, of making a series of movies. I find it really engaging, and I think everyone’s sort of along for the ride, anxious to know more about the story that we’re all telling together.
These wounds we see, are they from the first movie, or are they more that have been picked up into the second movie?
MILLER: I mean there’s been a lot of wounding for Credence. There’s a lot of sources of the wounds obviously. He’s been through a lot. He’s been through the mill this one.
We saw some of the art for the circus. So can you tell us a little bit about Credence and the circus and sort of what happens with that?
MILLER: Yes, The Circus Arcanus. It’s really interesting. I mean obviously, the histories of side shows are disturbing ones. This era … that world would have been a world of a lot of heavy exploitation. Definitely some animal cruelty. At the very least, PETA would have been displeased. And it’s interesting because we heard in Credence’s narrative in the first film, the derogatory term “freak” thrown at him in a way that was deeply effective, right? And I find it really interesting that we find him here in a sideshow, in a freak show as they were known. I mean obviously, it’s fascinating to be a part of this exploration of what that world looked like, but in the magical context — because obviously also for all of its exploitative practices — it’s a place where some people with strange abilities and incredible talents were sort of being glimpsed by the real Muggle world, you know? It’s obviously a beautiful set and an incredible … well, you know, incredible things. Magic circus, I mean … I don’t have to sell you on that!
In the first movie, there was a weird connection between Grindelwald and Credence, I was wondering was the idea to portray an abusive relationship? Or not? Will we see more of this explored in the sequel?
MILLER: I definitely felt personally that a lot of the exploration with Credence revolved around the idea of abuse and some of the different ways that trauma can happen to a young person. I personally see that in a lot of the exploration of Credence. [There’s] something interesting about this idea of light and dark magic, and it’s said many times in this series that love is a form of light magic, right? And so Grindelwald’s manipulation of love, targeting that deficit that he could perceive in Credence, is a form of abuse. You could also say it’s a form of dark magic, to wield power over that human need.
Credence seems to be finding his place in the wizard world after a world where lived with Muggles who attempted to like stamp the wizard out of him, which are things that are very parallel to Harry Potter. Did you find any inspiration from his character when you were like developing your role in the new film?
MILLER: What I think is interesting in the story of Credence is that he has been betrayed and mistreated by both worlds at this point. He has been mistreated by folks in the wizarding world, and No-Mag or Muggle folks as well. And so I think there a great skepticism of everyone he sees. I find in Credence this feeling that if he’s ever going to look someone in the eye, it’s going to be to analyze and question their intent and their integrity, because he’s just been given no basis to perceive trustworthiness or compassion in another person. And so I find that to be an important part of the exploration. I think he has very little knowledge of any of the Dumbledore folks at this point. I mean, there was a wizard alluded to, who Grindelwald was obviously portraying as a sinister figure to him, and I think that is the extent of his knowledge.
I think something’s that’s going to be on a lot people’s mind is the hair. What’s happening with the hair?
MILLER: Sure. Yeah.
Is it coming back? Is it going out? I mean what are you hoping? Because people want to know.
MILLER: I think that is probably the hook that’ll bring people back to those seats. So I really wouldn’t want to leak any crucial information about … I mean it could be, right? I mean you can only see edges. This is the perfect time to do this. I mean there could be a new Credence hairdos.
We were told that Credence becomes friends with people or creatures in the circus. Is there anything you can tell us about those relationships?
MILLER: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to share anything like … when you’re in a traveling circus, “it’s complicated” is pretty much the relationship status across the board, you know?
Can you talk about Credence’s new look aside from the hair? You’ve got some more color going on, a bit of tweed.