Tuesday 16th Aug 2016
Could Newt and Jacob become the next Sherlock and Watson? Or is that Laurel and Hardy?
As you may know, in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, an earnest British wizard with magical creatures in his case.
Dan Fogler plays someone entirely different: a No-Maj from the Lower East Side of New York called Jacob, who stumbles across the magical community when he accidentally opens Newt's case.
A great deal of the loveliness within the film arises from the chemistry between the four central characters: Newt, Jacob, Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol). Newt and Jacob have an endearing rapport and, as Dan Fogler tells it, that inexplicable electricity happened almost immediately during auditions.
‘Eddie and I had great chemistry right away,’ he tells me. 'We improvised in character at the first audition and I think that really helped me get the part.’ Dan is a comedian as well, so off-the-cuff material comes to him naturally.
‘I was really comfortable with [Eddie]. It really matters to have someone his character gets along with. Jacob had to be someone likable enough to get under Newt’s skin and make him start to think there’s more to life than magical creatures.’
According to Dan, the unique pairing between his and Eddie’s characters is obvious from the moment they get into costume. Eddie gets into Newt's slightly-too-short-for-him trousers, his peacock blue jacket, has his hair arranged to one side and grabs his magical case.
Meanwhile Fogler dons Jacob's not perfectly fitting three-piece suit with a grey waistcoat and red tie, strokes his moustache and has his hair parted and gelled. They’re an unlikely pair and that’s all part of the charm.
‘Once we get in costume, and we’re standing together, there’s definitely a Laurel and Hardy thing going on,’ says Dan. ‘Or maybe Abbott and Costello. Sherlock and Watson, even! Just from a collective unconscious standpoint, the audience could imprint their favorite duo onto us and it works really nicely.’
Newt and Jacob duck and weave through the film’s suspenseful plot, yet somehow maintain that lightness between them.
‘It’s like music,’ says Dan. ‘Eddie’s playing this really delightful, classically trained, soulful sound and I’m throwing some Brooklyn jazz over the top of it and it sounds good.’
Dan tells me this film is his ‘big break’. It’s the coolest, scariest project he’s worked on and alongside Eddie Redmayne, no less. Back when Dan was auditioning for the part, Eddie had just won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Theory of Everything.
Affectionately he says, ‘I’m a fan of his. It was just really great to be around an actor who is going to be knighted some day.'
‘It’s amazing to be surrounded by people who make you better. I feel like this was, by far, the best creative experience I’ve ever had and it’s the best work I’ve ever done. I’m so excited for it to just come out already!’