Things are moving right along on Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A couple of weeks after Eddie Redmayne entered final negotiations for the male lead role in the film, a shortlist has surfaced of the actresses that are being eyed for the two female leads. Redmayne plays Newt Scamander in the pic, which takes place in New York about 70 years before the events of the first Harry Potter installment. J.K. Rowling penned the script based on her own book, and the big twist here is that aside from Redmayne, the film’s other four leads—two boys and two girls—will be Americans, marking a major departure from the Brit-filled Potter franchise.
Per The Wrap, Saoirse Ronan, Dakota Fanning, Lili Simmons (Banshee), and Alison Sudol (Transparent) are up for the role of Tina, while Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby), and Kate Upton (WTF?) are being eyed to play Tina’s older sister Queenie. Additionally, Variety reporter Justin Kroll adds that Steve Zissis (Togetherness), Zack Pearlman (Mulaney), and Dan Fogler (Fanboys) are among those testing for the role of Jacob, Newt’s rival.
Ronan makes sense given that the talented actress’ name appears on pretty much every shortlist nowadays (she auditioned for Star Wars), but Upton is the biggest head-scratcher of the bunch—especially when she’s up for the same part as someone like Katherine Waterston, who turned in an outstanding performance in last year’s Inherent Vice. Upton, meanwhile, has proven to be a stilted, somewhat less-than-stellar actress in films like The Other Woman.
The report makes a note that this list is not final nor all-inclusive, and it’s unclear if all of these actresses are even available for the project, but Redmayne is expected to read alongside a number of contenders in screen tests that will take place next week. David Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, is set to helm Fantastic Beasts with veteran Potter producer David Heyman also onboard. The band is, indeed, back together.
Expect to hear more solid casting news over the next month or so, as Warner Bros. gears up to begin production later this year in anticipation of the film’s November 18, 2016 release date.