The magnificent Thunderbird (we meet one called ‘Frank’ in Fantastic Beasts) was one of the most impressive magical creatures yet. Here’s how he was brought to life in the film.

The Thunderbird
Layouts © HarperCollins Publishers/© WBEI. (s18) Case of Beasts

A magnificent, majestic multi-winged eagle-like bird native to the state of Arizona, the Thunderbird that Newt brings to America to release him back into the wild is called Frank. ‘He’s very much an American bird,’ says Eddie Redmayne.

‘When I find him before the film starts, he’s in Egypt, where he had been trafficked, because Thunderbirds are incredibly valuable. He has this extraordinary quality that he can sense danger. Also his mood is reflected by the weather, so if he’s frightened or excited then the rain pours.’

Thunderbird in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

White in colour with multiple shimmering wings, a gold beak and eyes, the Thunderbird was based on an early Occamy concept. ‘The idea was he’s the all-American eagle. You could imagine him at the top of a totem pole,’ says VFX supervisor Christian Manz.

A Thunderbird can also control the weather, generating storm clouds as it flies, with lightning sparking off its wings. ‘The blood flow across his feathers creates the impression of cloud-like patterns moving through him,’ continues Manz.

‘And when he is creating sunlight, his wings act almost like a stained-glass window with the light beaming through them. Rain does not come from him directly, but as he is flying and beating his wings, he is drawing water vapour in and around him to create clouds and, therefore, rain.’

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.