The emotional last days of filming Fantastic Beasts

The Pottermore Correspondent

Newt examines a silver egg, as Jacob looks on
Newt examines a silver egg, as Jacob looks on

When Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler and Carmen Ejogo shot a pivotal final scene together during the last days of the shoot, the Pottermore Correspondent was there to watch.

We’re huddled around a film monitor in the dark. That’s Eddie Redmayne's and Katherine Waterston’s make-up artists, the head of the hair and make-up department, a producer, an assistant director, a stand-in actor, a script supervisor, and me. It’s cold in this enormous hangar, and we shuffle our feet around silently on the concrete floor to keep warm.

Behind a soaring wall in front of us, the actors are filming one of the final scenes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We huddle in the corner by the make-up tent, only daring to whisper between takes. Partly because that’s what you do on set – whisper, stay quiet – and partly because nobody knows what to say. Nobody’s making eye contact.

Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein
Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein.

When I’m on the set of Fantastic Beasts I see what I see, I watch whatever scene happens to be filming that day. Today I have arrived in time to see one of the very last scenes of the movie filmed. And I’m utterly unprepared for what’s happening.

I’ve watched tense scenes before. Emotional ones, beautiful ones, even terrifying ones. But this is different. This scene is close to the very end of the film I’ve been covering for months and everyone on set is dealing with the finality of that in their own way.

The make-up artists are crying. Dan Fogler sniffles a little between takes. Katherine Waterston looks genuinely devastated, both in character and out. Eddie Redmayne is stoic, Alison is quiet and withdrawn. Carmen Ejogo, as Seraphina Picquery, is as perfectly charismatic as ever.

I watch as this beautiful moment comes to a close. I watch and I cry, like everyone else. Later that day, I ask Katherine what it was like to film.

Tina Goldstein inside a grand hall, MACUSA
Former MACUSA Auror, Tina Goldstein.

‘That really killed me,’ she says, hand to her forehead. ‘I didn’t want to look at anyone! I know that if I look at Alison, it gets me choked up. I look at her and I’m thinking, “I know we have to do this but I don’t want to. I know what you’re feeling because I feel it too but there’s nothing either of us can do.”

'It's just...’ – Katherine’s voice cracks a little – ‘She’s looking at me as if to say, “Can you do something?” And I can't. It’s a very sweet scene.'

When I catch up with Dan Fogler weeks later, I ask him about it. He has a similar reaction, as if even mentioning the scene has left him winded.

‘Oh, jeez. That scene,’ he says.

Queenie and Jacob
Queenie and Jacob.

‘What happens when you do screen tests for any film is that you memorise your entire part. So I was sitting on that scene for months. Before I even got to it, there was this big build-up for me.

'Sometimes life just gives you a hand with a scene. You have all these amazing actors around you, to bounce off and to be emotional. I think that’s why we were crying. For me it was very emotional because these people were like my family. We were coming to the end of our time together and...’ – Dan breaks into spontaneous song, as he occasionally does – ‘it’s so haaaard to say goodbyyyeee.’

There’s nothing Dan, Katherine or I can tell you about the actual scene right now. Trust me, you want to see it for yourself, without spoilers. But suffice to say, it’s powerful. It’s enough to make a group of grown-up human beings cry. Be ready.