“Crimes of Grindelwald” Set Visit Interview: Callum Turner
Callum Turner had the delight of playing Newt Scamander’s older brother, Theseus, in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. During our set visit, he went into detail about the differences between the brothers, how he got into the mindset of an older brother, and his love for the Potter books growing up. We also learned his Hogwarts House!
Press: What can you tell us about your character?
Callum Turner: I play Theseus, who is Newt’s older brother – even though I’m younger than Eddie [Redmayne], which is interesting – and he’s the opposite of Newt. He’s gone through the same schooling, obviously, but once he got out, he decided that the establishment was the way to fight the good fight. Theseus may be quite more rigid or just part of the establishment. He’s the head Auror at the Ministry.
Press: Can you talk about the casting process? Talk about how you got the role and auditioning with Eddie and everything.
Callum: It was the normal process of going in with Fiona Weir, who is the casting director, and then having a second meeting with David [Yates] and then having a third with Eddie, which I was really, really excited about, workshopping it with David and Eddie, because obviously, David is one of the best directors we’ve got in England, and I think Eddie is the same as an actor, and I followed his career upward, basically, and in a sense, not tried to model but have been lucky to be able to go and do American indies like Eddie has, and I was very impressed and inspired by the choices that he makes. He’s always made really good choices, so yeah, I was over the moon to just go and meet him, and actually, I did this weird thing on the first take. There’s this scene, and I just kissed him on the head. We weren’t even recording. It’s not in the movie. There’s no reason for me to have done it. But yeah, I think that’s probably why I got the part.
Press: How did he react?
Callum: He’s just [a] very nice man and didn’t really say anything, but I’m sure when I left the room, they were like “Huh?” But yeah, so it was within the conventions of a casting process. Pretty normal but with really brilliant people.
Press: Can you talk about the wand for your character?
Callum: The art department just basically came up to me with, like, three different wands, and they were like, “Which one do you want?” “That one.” And I broke it when we were doing camera tests. Yeah, not smooth at all. You’re not meant to do anything on the camera test. You’re meant to just stand there, basically, and I managed to break the wand. [It] just flew out of my hand.
Press: Have you met J.K. Rowling yet? If so, what was that like for you?
Callum: I have met her, and it was quite a big moment. I was quite nervous, actually, one, because it was the read-through, so there'[re], like, 60, 70 people in the room, and two, because I guess she’s like a hero of mine. [I] read her books when I was nine years old, ten years old, and on top of that, she’s an extraordinary woman and she’s really nice, man. She made me feel so welcome. She really made an effort to welcome me into the circle.
Press: Did she give you any advice on playing the character?
Callum: No, she was like, “Oh, I didn’t think of Theseus as how you look, but…” And I was like, “All right, cool, man. I’m going to give it a shot.”
Press: What’s been the most fun part of this whole experience for you so far?
Callum: Oh, man, every single day is so nice to come into work. Everyone’s amazing. Everyone’s really cool, and I’ve made loads of friends, but that’s just on a human level. But on a professional level, it blows my mind every time we go into a set and it’s just huge. I mean, some of the money they must spend on these sets is more than some of the movies that I’ve done. Yeah, it’s just amazing. It really is a real pleasure, man. This is part of the Harry Potter world and such a thing, and I’m a fan of it, and yeah, it’s amazing. I’m very lucky to come into work here every day.
Press: You seem very chill and friendly. Are we going to see more of a stern, serious character on-screen?
Callum: Yeah, I mean, he’s the opposite [of] Newt. Whereas I guess he’s more rigid, and he’s conformed to the way that people want. It’s quite funny. Yeah, he’s become one of them, I guess, and he went to Hogwarts. He was taught by Dumbledore.
Press: What House are you? Have you done the quiz?
Callum: Someone asked me the other day. I actually got Hufflepuff.
Press: What does your character think of Newt’s newfound success? Does he resent him at all for it?
Callum: I think there’s a sort of a relief there that he’s not. Theseus is really successful. He’s a very determined man to reach the top, and I think having his younger brother sort of float around in this obscurity, in a sense, was quite worrying for him.
Press: You’re one of a few new characters for this movie. What was it like coming in with this cast that was already established for the first film?
Callum: Oh, man, it’s so daunting. I mean, I’ve been watching all these people’s films since I was a kid, like Johnny Depp, I mean, Eddie I said, even Ezra [Miller]. I’ve been a big fan of Ezra before I started acting, so yeah, it was pretty scary, but like I say, everyone’s so nice and wonderful that it was quite a smooth boat into being there. I’ve been here forever. I forgot there was another film before.
Press: You’ve worked on a lot of smaller-budget movies, you said. How have you coped with the visual effects side of things on this movie?
Callum: I thought it was going to be this crazy, daunting thing, but actually, it’s quite a smooth process. I mean, these guys are at the top of their game, and you don’t even really realize. And there are times in other things where sometimes the other actor goes home or that’s not in place or you just want to get a moment, but it’s the end of or the middle of a scene, and you have to just act it, and I guess that’s what it is. So I thought it was going to be something different. I had no idea what it was going to be [like], but actually, it’s just acting, which is great.
Press: Tina and Theseus are both rigid, by-the-books Aurors. Do the two characters have much interaction in the sequel? Have you worked with Katherine?
Callum: Yeah. I mean, [laughs] they’re both Aurors.
Press: What’s been your favorite bit of the process so far?
Callum: I haven’t been asked to play a character like this before, and finding him and getting into him has been the most enjoyable part, because it’s been a challenge for me, and these movies are emotionally driven or they’re character-driven, and so having that challenge has been the most enjoyable part.
Press: How did you prepare for the role? Were you given a backstory? Theseus, the name itself, has got certain connotations.
Callum: For sure, yeah, Greek mythology. There’s a lot of stuff online. Yeah, even for Theseus. His name is mentioned once in the first film. I actually joked with the guys that it was like doing a biopic because there’s literally so much stuff online that you can find out. Yeah, I mean, there’s so much stuff there, yeah. I have a half brother and a half sister, but they grew up in Australia, so I was raised as an only child, and the main thing for me was finding out what it was like to be an older brother, actually, so I did a lot of asking about and listening to stories and stuff like that.
Press: Eddie was saying to us that he worked with, I think, a dance teacher to get some of his character’s movements down, and he included the hand movements with his wand. How did you go about deciding how you were going to do [that]? Because I imagine it’s really fun to hold the wand and figure out if you’re going to be really jerky or delicate and how you practiced doing that.
Callum: Alex Reynolds is the movement coach, who[m] Eddie worked with on [The] Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl, and she’s amazing, and there’s this wand school-type thing. So I did a movie a few years ago where I played a punk, and anyway, I sort of learned a little bit how to play drums. Not very well. But the way that they hold the sticks is quite interesting, drummers, and for some reason, because the idea of him being a punk or a rebel of sorts, being true to who he was, so when he was younger, having that in him even though he’s part of the establishment now, so the way that I hold the wand is, I have it sort of through here, and it’s a tiny, tiny little thing, but that’s something that Alex and I worked on.
Press: That’s cool. What are Theseus’s thoughts about the creatures? What are his relationships with them?
Callum: Yeah, I think he has bigger fish to fry and it’s his little brother’s thing. That’s his sort of looking down on his brother.
Press: Are you allowed to say how much of the film you’re in?
Callum: A fair bit. I mean, it’s an ensemble thing. I mean, there [were] some beautiful actors, I guess. I don’t know. Plenty. It’s really nice to be part of an ensemble of Johnny Depp, man, Jude Law, Eddie, Zoë Kravitz. I mean, beautiful, beautiful actors. So yeah, I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Press: What is the Ministry doing about Grindelwald being on the loose?
Callum: A lot. They’re doing a lot. They’re working very hard. I don’t know where to go to answer that.
Press: Is there a part of your personality that comes into Theseus in a strong way?
Callum: Yeah, I think any character that personally I play, it will be coming from a core of myself, so yeah.
Press: Are you ready for the extremely intense fandom that comes with being in Harry Potter of people becoming obsessed with you and just really intense fans? It’s an intense thing to be part of. Is that something you’ve thought about or gotten advice on?
Callum: It’s making me nervous, you talking about that. Actually, no, I don’t. I just put my head in the sand, so “no” is the answer.
Press: Were you a Harry Potter fan before you signed up for this?
Callum: Yeah. I read the books. I remember reading one of the books just before going to bed and then hoping an owl would bring a letter through my window. We’ve all been there. I was there.
Press: You’re from Hufflepuff, so we know you’ve done that part. I’m from Pottermore, so I want you to do the [Patronus quiz].
Callum: I don’t have my phone or I’d do it now. Does anyone have a phone? I’ll do it right now.
Press: It takes a while.
Callum: Oh, does it?
Press: Yeah, it does take a while.
Callum: All right. I’ll do it, and I’ll let you know.
Press: Thank you. Where would you like to explore, magical world-wise, outside of London, Paris, New York? Is there another country’s magical community you’d like to see?
Callum: Yeah, an Amazonian tribe, maybe.
Read the rest of our set visit coverage here.
This interview has been edited for clarity. Additional formatting provided by Felicia Grady.