Behind the scenes of Fantastic Beasts: Bowtruckles

This adorable little tree guardian was an absolute scene-stealer in Fantastic Beasts. Here’s how the magical creature was designed to give us Newt’s friend Pickett – and Eddie Redmayne’s thoughts on him.

Newt and Jacob with the Bowtruckle
Newt and Jacob with the Bowtruckle.

Mainly found in England, southern Germany and parts of Scandinavia, Bowtruckles are stick insect-like creatures made of twigs and bark, standing between five and eight inches in height with three legs and two brown eyes. Newt has several, including one that he carries around with him. Called Pickett, this particular Bowtruckle is both Newt’s companion and someone who can pick locks should they need picking.

Case of Beasts: Bowtruckle sketch
Layouts © HarperCollins Publishers/© WBEI. (s18) Case of Beasts

‘I love the Bowtruckles so much,’ says Eddie Redmayne. ‘I think Pickett is my favourite character. He’s a bit of a loner within the family of Bowtruckles. He feels a bit bullied by his pals. He has attachment issues, so he keeps faking illness to hang out in my pocket. He is also incredibly agile and of great value. I use Pickett as a bartering tool with Gnarlak who runs The Blind Pig.’

Layouts © HarperCollins Publishers/© WBEI Inc. (s18)

Another Paul Catling creation, Pickett went through more than two hundred different designs before the final version was approved. ‘It was a difficult one to discover because it’s a stick insect but you want it to look real and you want him to have character, but you don’t want him to be too much like an animated little man,’ says VFX supervisor Christian Manz.

The Bowtruckle blows a raspberry
The Bowtruckle.

‘Paul came up with a lovely concept,’ says animation supervisor Pablo Grillo. ‘The beauty of it was the simplicity of his form. He’s very fragile, but brave, has very strong traits. He’s branchy, chaotic and can communicate a lot of emotional beats through his physicality rather than having a face.’

‘That was the key,’ says Manz. ‘The animals are animals, they’re not characters. Our characters are our goblins and our elves. The creatures don’t talk, so it’s trying to make something the audience will understand the emotion of, but is still an animal. He’s like a green sapling, and the other Bowtruckles are all slightly weird shapes.’

Bowtruckle tree - Case of Beasts
Layouts © HarperCollins Publishers/© WBEI. (s18) Case of Beasts

Read more behind-the-scenes facts in The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, from HarperCollins.