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    This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Eddie Redmayne in a scene from, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

    Cast and Crew of 'Fantastic Beasts' Reveal Film's Secrets

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    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hit cinemas in the UK and US on Friday, marking the official return of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world to the big screen.

    Reviews for the film have been mostly positive. Currently, it holds a 76 percent freshness rating from critics and an 86 percent audience rating on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

    Warner Bros, the studio behind the film, is looking to make a big push for the film prior to its Chinese mainland debut this Friday.

    The studio flew out almost the entire cast and crew for the film to Beijing for a grand outdoor promotional event held at the Taikoo Li Sanlitun, one of the biggest nightlife areas in Beijing, on Friday.

    Juggling act

    Starring Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne and directed by David Yates, the director of the fifth through eighth Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts has caused quite a stir among Rowling fans.

    Unlike the first eight Harry Potter films, which were adapted from Rowling's novels by different screenwriters, this time the screenplay was written by none other than Rowling herself.

    "The energy of her imagination is amazing," Yates told the Global Times during an interview at a press event held on Thursday before the big Friday event.

    Although he had already worked with Rowling in the Harry Potter universe before, the world-building for Fantastic Beasts was something of a different experience for Yates.

    "I joined the Potter movies halfway through their being made, so the world is already brilliantly set up," Yates said.

    "For Fantastic Beasts, I'm able to set up from scratch. It's very exciting for a director to cast the film, define the tone and build the world from scratch."

    The Harry Potter films that Yates directed had much darker stories than the films they followed as the later films saw the characters gradually growing up and having to face the darker parts of the wizarding world.

    In line with these later films, Fantastic Beasts also contains some dark elements amid some more comedic elements.

    "The hardest thing is balancing the tonality in it, the humor with the drama, the action with the creepy, scary bits," Yates said.

    Tales from the cast

    Although the story is set in 1920s New York, 70 years prior to the original Harry Potter films, there are still connections to those previous films.

    The leading character Newt Scamander (Redmayne) was once a beloved student of Dumbledore's who was expelled from Hogwarts due to an accident.

    Although Newt didn't appear in the Harry Potter films, his name appeared in the first film as the author of a one of the student's textbooks Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

    According to Redmayne, it was his younger brother who first introduced him to the Harry Potter series.

    Now that he is playing a character from this world, he has dedicated quite a lot of time and energy into practicing waving a wand and coping with fantastic CGI beasts.

    "What I love about Newt is how complicated he is, because he is really bad with people," Redmayne told the Global Times at the press event. "But when he deals with these creatures, he is a different animal. He's confident."

    The challenge of playing such a character was an attractive one for Redmayne, a multiple Academy Award nominee and winner for his work in Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl.

    The new film was not just a test of his acting abilities, but also his abilities as a dancer, as one scene sees him break out in a little dance while coping with one of the film's beasts.

    Redmayne revealed that he and dancer Alexandra Reynolds studied the mating behavior of birds for the scene, which led to them going through lots of videos in order to find better moves.

    "We decided they were useless," Redmayne said, laughing out loud.

    In the end, he shot several "ridiculous" dances and the one that was chosen for the final cut was "the least embarrassing."

    Dan Fogler, who plays the only "No-Maj" (the US name for non-magical people) in the film, revealed that Rowling told him to think about Ron Wesley, a character from the original films who is often the comic relief, when playing the character.

    Future direction

    The villain of the film, Gellert Grindelwald, is a dark wizard second only to Voldemort when it comes to the danger he represents. The first mention of him occurred in the first Harry Potter film when it is mentioned that he was defeated by Dumbledore.

    Prior to the film's release last week, it was a tightly kept secret that Johnny Depp would appear as Grindelwald at the end of film.

    Yates revealed that Depp will have a much bigger role in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts, adding that a younger Dumbledore will appear as well.

    Yates also let slip another interesting tidbit when answering a question about whether he was considering adding Chinese elements to the next film.

    "Oh, I can't really say anything, but there is sort of Chinese elements…There is an amazing creature in the second film," Yates said hesitantly.

    "I keep getting into trouble. Warner Bros keeps saying to me that I always say too much," he finished, laughing.


    This article was orginally published by the Global Times.


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