Tuesday 15th Nov 2016
Just three days before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens to the public, J.K. Rowling and her cast attend the European premiere. The Pottermore Correspondent reports direct from Leicester Square, London.
The carpet for this premiere isn’t red, it’s Occamy blue. There’s an enormous replica of Newt Scamander’s tattered leather case laid out in the middle, and fans are crowded by the sidelines, yelling and waving their copies of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the air.
It seems such a long time since we were on the set of this movie – which is exactly what David Yates says, when he arrives.
‘We’ve come so far!’ he says, ‘Can you believe it? Remember those cold nights in Leavesden? Not dissimilar to this!’
It is, of course, a typically dismal London evening. It’s threatening to rain. But that doesn’t dampen David’s enthusiasm for the film, or his beloved cast. ‘They didn’t just come into this movie as great actors,’ he says, ‘they came in as real fans of Jo’s books. And what that means is an extra level of love and responsibility because they grew up with the stories.’
That’s true of the first actor we see: Eddie Redmayne. Eddie has always been taken with the wizarding world, and he’s endearingly humbled to be its next hero.
‘I’ve got to say, we’ve been having an amazing time,’ he says. ‘When you promote these extraordinary things, you go on the most wonderful adventures. There was a wonderful moment when we were flying back from New York with Iris, my five-month-old baby, and basically the whole cabin was filled with the cast so one by one, Ezra was looking after her and then Katherine was looking after her…’
Midway through Eddie’s sentence, it starts to rain. Not just rain; pour. It spatters down on him until someone with an umbrella appears to retrieve him. ‘I’m so excited for the world to see this movie. I hope they like Newt!’ And with that, he’s off into the night for more interviews.
Someone else appears before me, standing under a large, transparent umbrella. Someone who might be feeling a little déjà vu from her days on this very carpet for the Harry Potter films.
‘This feels very familiar,’ says J.K. Rowling, in floor-length gold. ‘I feel like the family’s back together because it’s the same team but we have new family members. We’ve got Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol and Erza Miller... They’re amazing. I mean, the chemistry between those four… and Ezra just puts in the most magnificent performance. They’ve knocked it out of the park, I’m thrilled.’
J.K. Rowling moves on and along comes Dan Fogler. Things move fast on the blue carpet and we’ve got just moments with each person.
I ask Dan his favourite thing about his character, Jacob Kowalski. Without skipping a beat, he says, ‘His heart, man. He’s got a heart that’s bigger than his body. And he’s so brave. He doesn’t have a wand, he doesn’t know magic and he’s running in there like, “Yeah I’ll help you, sure – I’ll wrangle that gigantic beast for you.” You’ve got to respect a guy like that.’
A wink and a smile and he’s gone, too. Alison Sudol arrives, luminous as ever. She’s especially proud of the moral messages in this film and how important they seem to be right now, in this political climate.
‘It’s sort of weird because Jo wrote this quite a while ago and yet the messages in this film are so relevant right now,’ she says, batting off a rogue raindrop. ‘There’s a lot about fear of “the other” and how dangerous that can be and the dangers of segregation, of racism, of the rift that happens when you start saying “you are this” and “I am this” and “we will never mix.” Tolerance is needed more than ever, and acceptance and empathy. Also there are messages about the extinction crisis. All of the creatures in this film are so incredible and the way Newt handles them is the way we should all handle fantastic beasts.”
Last but not least, Ezra Miller arrives. I ask if he finally feels a part of the Harry Potter family, like he’s always wanted. His answer is perfection. ‘Yeah,’ he says, ‘but what I’d say is that I’ve always felt that way. This world is inclusive; it lets you understand your own magic.’
He looks at me, moved by his own words. ‘Dude, I’m trying really hard not to cry tonight, that’s the big goal. I think it’s powerful to have a dream come true but then it’s also powerful to realise that your dreams are true.’
‘Oh, don’t,’ I say, ‘Ezra, you’re going to make me cry.’
‘Dude,’ he says. ‘Don’t cry because then I’ll cry. Our make-up will be ruined.’
There is, for the moment, no crying. But the film is about to begin and I bet you an Occamy egg there’ll be tears in the cinema tonight.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in cinemas on 18 November.