The youngest of Mary Lou Barebone’s adopted children, eight-year-old Modesty is played by Faith Wood-Blagrove in her debut film. ‘Modesty has a real twinkle in her eye,’ says Jenny Murray, who plays her sister Chastity. ‘She’s very rebellious. She says how she feels. She asks questions. She is terrified and misses her siblings. She’s brave under the restraints of that family.’
A big Harry Potter fan, Wood-Blagrove won the role after attending an open audition with one of her friends. ‘I was speaking in an American accent,’ says Wood-Blagrove, who’s English and attends the Starmaker Theatre School in Berkshire. ‘They asked me if I was from America and I said I was from England.’ Just one of a few girls called back for a second audition, Wood-Blagrove met with both casting director Fiona Weir and director David Yates, and won the part. ‘Faith is amazing,’ says Murray. ‘She’s got so much energy and she’s so curious, which is the best quality.’
Together with her siblings Credence and Modesty, Chastity spends her time banging Mary Lou Barebone’s anti-witchcraft drum, attending Second Salemer rallies, and handing out leaflets warning No-Majs that magic is real and those responsible should be destroyed. ‘I thought Chastity was very suppressed and unhappy and lonely,’ recalls Jenn Murray, who plays her. ‘[But] there were little things in the script, like “She blushed,” or “She looked curiously,” so I was like, “Oh, she’s a bit rebellious.” But it’s all battened down.’
While Chastity doesn’t speak much (‘[There’s] a lot of stillness and a lot of listening,’ says Murray. ‘That in itself was a challenge. Don’t do too much; but don’t do nothing. Assert yourself. But don’t disappear’) working opposite Samantha Morton was eye-opening. ‘I had made up my mind who Chastity was. I felt Chastity was very much an outsider. Then the first day on set Samantha said to me, “Let’s find it together.” It was the best thing I could’ve heard. And we did find it. David directed me in an unexpected way, which turned out to be much more challenging and much more creatively satisfying. He said, “Why don’t you think this is the greatest thing ever?” And I became like a Mini-Me version of Samantha. That was more interesting to play and not necessarily the obvious choice.’
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.