Monday 11th Apr 2016
Eddie Redmayne climbs out of his magic briefcase on stage at the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, says ‘what a treat’ it is to be here and presents the world premiere of the Fantastic Beasts trailer. Moments later…
Eddie’s sitting on the sofa in his trailer looking, frankly, quite relieved. The door closes and the sound of screaming fans wanes to a calm quiet.
This is casual Eddie; he’s in jeans, a red checked shirt and trainers. He’s just shown thousands of people two full minutes of never-before-seen footage of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He seems tentatively elated.
‘Each time you put a little thing like that out into the world, it feels nerve-wracking,’ he says, in his reverent British half-whisper. ‘The weird thing about film-making is that you make films as a team and together, you care about every bit that goes out. You care what people think. I care.’
Eddie blinks a couple of times, earnestly, and it’s clear that he does. He’s the kind of actor who keeps a piece of his characters in his heart. He adores Newt Scamander especially, you can tell. And after this trailer, we all know the British magizoologist a little better. We know that Newt was expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We know that he carries more than a Hufflepuff scarf in that suitcase. And we know that Albus Dumbledore argued against his expulsion.
‘When I first heard the notion of this film and that it was set in a totally different time period [to Harry Potter] the question for me was, would those worlds ever collide? When I read the script, the delicacy with which J.K. Rowling weaves the names and the characters of a different generation to the one we know and love excited me. It still does.’
As for Newt’s expulsion and the reason he’s arrived in New York City?
‘I can say nothing further about that,’ Eddie says, holding tight onto the secret.
‘But Newt is much better at communicating with beasts and spending time with his creatures than perhaps he is with human interaction. On the journey of this film, he begins to find connections with people but he’s not exactly a people-pleaser. What I love about Newt Scamander is that he’s his own person. He’s a passionate man and he’ll do anything for those beasts.’
‘The Niffler!’ says Eddie, with a slight shake of his fist on Newt’s behalf. ‘As you know, I have a love-hate relationship with that little guy. He gets a little moment in the trailer, the Niffler. He’s ravaging a purse. I thought he did pretty immaculately in his debut but there’s a lot more Niffler to come. He looked so sweet and adorable just then but don’t be fooled.’
Eddie beams with genuine affection for the little beast and sighs with relief that he can finally talk about a few more things that appear in the film. Now that the trailer’s out, he’s got approximately eight fewer secrets to keep until November.
‘I’m so bad at keeping secrets, so anything being out there that I don’t have to hide anymore is good,’ he says.
While we’re all trying to collect hints about the plot of Fantastic Beasts, Eddie’s planning to spend some time with his wife, Hannah. When he leaves the trailer the evening, he’s got one more commitment – CinemaCon in Las Vegas – and then time will be his own for a while.
‘Do you know, I am actually taking a wee break,’ he says. ‘My wife is having a baby and we thought we’d travel a little. What was wonderful about Fantastic Beasts is that it was fully immersive but the shoot was long, it was six months and it was rigorous. I put everything I had into it so, yeah, it’s time for a wee break.’
And with that, Eddie stands, hugs me goodnight, climbs the narrow black stairs down from his trailer, stops to film 11 seconds of fireworks on his phone and jumps into the black car waiting for him outside.