New Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler “Fantastic Beasts” Interviews
Transcribed by Sacha Huynen and Jennifer Rasnovski
Moderator: We’ve got you set up for a 20-minute roundtable here with Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler. Fantastic. We’ll let you guys get situated, and we’ll start this off with a question.
Dan Fogler: I made all of these clothes myself.
Moderator: Go ahead. Take it from there.
Female interviewer 1: You guys had the most heartbreaking scene at the end of the movie. Can you talk about how you filmed the dynamic between the emotional scenes you did and the humorous scenes you guys have filmed?
Dan: Oh, wow. Yeah, that scene was… everything was building up to that scene, and that scene was very emotional with the rain. I thought it was very specific to me because it reminded me of… you try to find things in your life that you can equate it to and make it real for yourself, and it reminded me of when I went to sleepaway camp, and I had a lot of my firsts.
Dan: And you find your motley crew, and then your parents come and drag you away, and you don’t want to go. I remember a few summers just blubbering my eyes out, and that’s what that moment was for me – not wanting to leave the party.
Female interviewer 2: In the wizarding world, love is the greatest form of magic. And there’s that kiss at the end. Is that the kiss that breaks the remembrance or the Obliviation?
Dan: I like to think that it’s like a combo of the bite and the strudel and the cocoa and the medicine and the magic peaches and then the kiss, and then the… I think the combo helps him remember a little.
Female interviewer 3: So I was talking to the Davids about this being an imaginary world, and you not necessarily having everything in front of you all the time. Was there a particular scene where that was like a ton of fun for you guys or really hard or… just not having everything in front of you all the time?
Alison Sudol: It takes a lot of imagination, but I mean, that’s a wonderful thing to tap into as an adult. The cooking scene was…
Dan: Oh, yeah.
Alison: It was the first time that there was any sort of magic in the movie for us as actors. It was really early on in the film[ing] that we did that, and I sort of assumed that someone would be telling me what was going to happen.
Alison: And it got to about two days before it, and I suddenly realized that that was not the case and that I sort of needed to know what I was cooking, which meant I needed to have a recipe, because with doing magic, you don’t just go like, “Dinner.” You’re casting all the different spells for everything to do the work, but you’re still doing that. So I had to think, “How do you even make apple strudel and what am I cooking?” And “What’s cutting what?” And “Where does the potato go?” And then also, we all had to coordinate that between us as a group so that we’re not in different scenes. And it was really amazing as an exercise, like a ballet or something, for us all to really tune into each other. We all had to really get on the same page visually, and David, obviously, was really brilliant at that – at helping us get a feel for the scene. And then we just all connected in that moment in how we were going to do this from that moment on.
Alison: I mean, and even more so because you’re meeting all these fantastic beasts for the first time, and you’re like, “That’s really cute” or “Oh my God, that’s frightening. This weird rhino thing might want to have my babies.”
Female interviewer 4: Which he really wanted to have your babies.
Dan: Oh my God.
Alison: But you can’t see them, so…
Dan: Right. Well, yeah. They do an incredible job of helping us see them. They have puppets. A lot of them were just elaborate faces on sticks and actors acting. But the Erumpent… he had an actual body, and he was almost a skeletal version of him. So he’s lightweight. It was a she.
Alison: Her, yeah. I was going to say [that] it was definitely a her.
Dan: And you had a team of people inside this thing. It was like The Lion King inside this giant thing, and they’re all acting and making it live. And then you go to acting school, and they train you to imagine stuff.
Dan: To give physics to stuff that isn’t there. But the question you asked was, “What was hard?” or “Which one was hard?”
Female interviewer 4: Did you have a favorite scene? Or just one that stood out to you?
Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, the scene where I open up the case, and they all stampede out, and a Murtlap jumps out. So in that scene, I’m working with this little squishy weird albino…
Dan: … rabbit, and it’s squishy. They make it feel like.. it’s moist.
Dan: And I was like, “Where do I look? Where do I look? They’re all coming out of the box? Where do I look?” And they were just like, “No, no, no, you look wherever you want,” and the technology is so caught up now, they can just work it to how you’re looking, paint it in later. And that was so freeing. So I was like, “Oh my God,” and then suddenly, you’re improvising and adding bits. That’s unheard of. And there was a great bit that was added, which was with the Murtlap. He’s trying to get me, and then I noticed one of them just smashed down the street, and I look down, and then he gets loose, and then we look at each other.
Dan: Ahh, I love working that bit out. That was great.
Female interviewer 5: So my question is in direction, but I have to set it up first with a compliment. As much as I went into the theater knowing I am going to love the beasts, because they’re fantastic, and that’s why I am there…
Dan: You knew where to find them because that’s where they were.
Female interviewer 5: I fell in love with the four characters, and of the four characters, the one that stuck with me… and you guys did such an amazing job giving them life and form that I wish, “Oh my God, what if they made a Netflix series and [unintelligible] had a baby, and then the one baby couldn’t have magic, and the other baby has magic.
Female interviewer 5: You gave life to them, and I left the theater wondering about the characters you guys created. So the question is…
Dan: Good job.
Female interviewer 5: You’ll read this over and over on people’s reviews. The question is: With the director, what kind of notes did you get, if any, while you were working? Any tips, any notes, any encouragements that he…? “Oh, don’t do that” or…?
Dan: We mostly got, “You guys are delicious. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
Alison: Trust your instincts. I got, actually, a really amazing note from David right at the get-go, which I found so empowering because I am… in real life, I don’t necessarily do my nails all the time. I’m not a girly girl. And when I was doing all the screen tests and everything, I was always focusing on Queenie’s empathy and her heart and her warmth and her love because those were all things that I felt, and I had crazy hair at the time. It was brown and all over my face, and I was wearing a weird onesie and stuff.
Alison: And then I got into the costume and the hair and the make-up and the nails and all of these very feminine clothes, and there was a tiny moment of a wobble for me at the very, very beginning where I felt like I needed to be more feminine than I was comfortable with. Was I being feminine enough in myself? And so I lost my center a tiny bit right at the start and was being my idea of what a beautiful woman would be. And he was just so good. He was like, “You don’t need to do that. You don’t need to do that. Just focus on the Queenie that you know. Just focus on her heart. Focus on what you are doing. Trust your instincts, your actual instincts. You don’t need to be more than what you are.” And my goodness, I mean, I think as an actress, that was such a beautiful note, but also… I don’t know. It did something. It was quite healing for me on a weirdly deep level of just being is enough. And I think, as women, sometimes we feel like we need to be more in order to be enough, and I don’t know, it’s liberating when you just realize: Just be yourself, and that is lovable. And I carried that with me throughout the whole film.
Female interviewer 6: I have to commend both of you, but especially you, Alison, because the history of this film, the period, I think, was on point. But you don’t realize how different personalities are from period to period to period, and you both – but especially you – did a really good job with the voice, with how you carried yourself, with…
Alison: Oh, thank you.
Female interviewer 6: … what you just said, what you thought a woman was supposed to be in that era was a very specific thing. And you and the character of your sister are two polar opposites of that, and she’s the Chanel man, and you’re super feminine, and it was just really nice to watch both of you in that period.
Alison: Thank you.
Female interviewer 7: Queenie is beautiful, and she sometimes uses that to her advantage, but she also reads minds and is incredibly smart.
Female interviewer 7: She tells Jacob, too, that he has the same reaction. He sees her as a lot of men do when he sees her, so what makes him different for her? What makes him more enduring?
Dan: Well, he’s human. Come on!
Alison: Well, he’s just a really good person, and he’s really kind, and he’s interested in what she has to say, and there’s just a sweetness to him. There’s not a duality going on. He is a whole person. What you see coming forth is actually what he’s thinking and feeling, and there’s an innocence to him as well. And Queenie just sees all that, and he’s really brave as well. He’s going on this adventure, and he doesn’t have a wand. We all do, and he’s just right there with them, and there’s just so much to love for her, and he doesn’t look at her like a thing. He looks at her like a human being, and she knows that because she can see what he’s thinking.
Female interviewer 7: Can you talk a little bit about the chemistry between you and Katherine? What was that like coming on set? Did that click right away?
Alison: It did, yeah. It clicked in the screen test, actually. When they were doing the screen test, they had a lot of different actors paired up, and they put us on a couch together, and they said, “Okay, you two, you’re sisters. Go.” And we were like, “Hi, I’m Alison. Hi, I’m Katherine. Okay, here we go, we’re sisters. Let’s do it.” And she shifted the minute that the scene started, and there was just this tremendous vulnerability in her face that she was trying to hide. And it was so clear to me, and I just said something like, “I know you had a hard day. They just don’t see you like I see you. It’s going to be okay.” And she looked like she was going to cry, and I didn’t know how to comfort her, so I started to braid her hair, and I don’t have a sister, but it was such a natural moment. I have sisters in my life [whom] I have chosen, and it felt like that but instantaneous. I wanted to take care of her, and I felt like she let down her guard and trusted me in that moment. And it was a really special moment for both of us. In fact, we both sent messages through our managers. Like, “I thought that was so beautiful. Thank you for going there with me. Thank you for being so vulnerable and open.” And it just carried through throughout the rest of the movie. We didn’t even have to work on it.
Moderator: We’ve got time for just one last question. Did anybody not get to ask a question yet? Who did not get to ask a question? Wilson?
Wilson: I’m good. I’m good.
Moderator: Okay, anybody?
Female interviewer 8: So first time you guys met J.K. Rowling, what was that like, and did you get any extra information about your characters that you would like to reveal? Any secrets?
Alison: Well, the first time that we met her we were… well, you had already met her once, so the first time that Katherine and I met her, all four of us stood around her in a semi-circle.
Alison: Hopping from foot to foot. I couldn’t say anything at all. I was just like, “When in doubt, don’t talk.” But she was really warm. She hugged us all. She said how excited she was, how happy she was with what we were doing. “Trust your instincts.” Again, that same message. And then the second time that she came to set, she told us about where our characters are going in the next film, and it was like, “I mean, you guys…”
Female interviewer 8: We’re all ears.
Male interviewer 1: And on that note, we have to wrap up our thing. Thank you, everybody, for coming out in support of Fantastic Beasts.