David Heyman and Callum Turner “Crimes of Grindelwald” Roundtable Interview
by MuggleNet · Published · Updated
Transcribed by Meg Scott
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Callum Turner made his wizarding world debut as Newt’s brother, Theseus Scamander, and David Heyman could not be more excited to have him as part of the cast for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Both Heyman and Turner discuss the nostalgia of returning to Hogwarts and the behind-the-scenes family of the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts franchise.
David Heyman: It was quite nostalgic when I read the script. You see the connected tissue to Harry Potter becoming stronger. Yeah, it was really moving. I confess the set was not as elaborate as it was on the eight Harry Potter films. It was a bridge with nothing about relevant, and that was all that I could do. So in terms of emotions and sentiment, it probably wasn’t as extraordinary as it might have been had we actually built a lot more of it.
Callum Turner: Are you talking about our last scene? It was really funny because we’d be looking and then Jude and Eddie would just stop and then look around. That’s movie magic.
Press: Big movie magic. There’s also something about Eddie and how he has changed over the year, or how he’s developed into this character.
David: I’ll let [Callum] speak to this because he acts opposite him, but [Eddie] is an incredibly rigorous performer. He has very detailed looks at every moment, the rhythm of it, the music of it, of any given line, he’s really attuned to that. He will often, between takes or after setups, go into the monitor, and David Yates is very inclusive. He’s very comfortable with actors looking at that stuff. And some are comfortable with it, some more so than others. Some don’t want to see themselves at all. Eddie is quite comfortable with it, not because he enjoys it, but more because it’s part of a process of peeling away the layers and creating a detailed performance. So I think Newt is more second nature to him. That being said, the journey in this one is very different to the journey of the first. This is a journey of someone who at the beginning is avoiding engagement when he has his Ministry scene and he’s trying to get the permission to go to New York. He’s not willing to relinquish his position as an outsider, not willing to join the Ministry in pursuit of Grindelwald. And by the end, it’s not that he’s joined the Ministry, but he’s prepared to actively join the fight. And so to Callum’s character, where it’s starting from the inside to at the end of the film really being comfortable being an outsider, it’s a real issue. And so in terms of Eddie, I think he’s a fantastic actor. It’s really fun to watch him work, and it’s fun also when the film comes together partly because of watching the choices that David Yates makes in the cut, because you film it in bits, but when you see it as a whole, he has an amazing sense over the whole film and how his character changes over the course of it, and so he sees how some of the choices echo and reflect and lead to choices that he makes in the film. It’s really interesting, especially because we shoot it completely out of sequence.
Press: Callum, how much of a Harry Potter fan were you before you even got a role for this one?
Callum: Yeah, a huge one. I read the books when I was a kid. I was nine when my mum brought it home and told me I had to read it because it was a thing and it was blowing up, and my mum was so very inspired by Jo too. My mum was a single mother and the story of [Jo] being in the coffee shop writing these books while looking after a child was inspirational. And now, having seen the movies… and some of the performances as a young kid captivated me, like David Thewlis and Imelda Staunton and Gary Oldman as Sirius Black blew my mind, and I felt I had to try to emulate that. And actually, I watched the “Hundred Greatest Harry Potter Moments” the Christmas just before. I didn’t know anything about this movie or the possibility of being involved, and I watched from 100 to zero. And the history and the beauty and the range of it just blew my mind.
David: It’s so funny when you’re in the middle of it, and then Callum came to this film with such enthusiasm and thew himself in it, but when you’re in it, it’s hard to step out of it. I mean, one of the things I love about working on these films is everybody doesn’t go, “Oh my God. We’re doing how much in a week?” At the same time, it’s a balance between not being in awe of it because if you’re in awe of it, or concerned too much about what everybody is going to think, you’d be paralyzed. Because everybody is going to have an issue with one thing or another in the Harry Potter world, taking out and all that…
Callum: That must have just been such a chess game.
David: But it was born purely out of finding the best way to tell the story. It was not about listening to fans, to be honest. It was about just doing them right. But in this – and I’m sure you’ve experienced this – when you’re in it, you know people will analyze and question. You can’t do that. You’ve just got to do the work and evolve the character and the truth.
Callum: Yeah, that was the biggest part of the job for me. I actually just enjoyed enough being on set and doing it so much that the biggest part was removing the responsibility and the realization that, “I’m going to be here with you guys and doing the press junket, and some people are going to be dressed up like the character and know every little nook and cranny.” Ezra is actually a great Potter fan, big mascot of that, so we have an insight with him. So yeah, part of the job is just forgetting all that and just concentrating solely on my… I like that in every film I do. Really I’m always director and team driven and that’s first and foremost. I’d try any character as long as it’s a director that I want to work with or a team I want to be a part of. Because that’s the fun of it, right? But I’m actually going to go back to Eddie because I want to just say how brilliant he is and how kind and generous, and what you were touching on. Eddie’s career is one I’ve followed for a long time. I think he makes brilliant decisions and has been doing incredibly interesting things and performances forever. You’ve all seen the film, right? There’s the bit where he turns into me or whatever. It was a two-day thing, and he directed me alongside the Davids. It was really interesting. Eddie was like, “No, less twitchy.”
Callum: But I just learned how… I was basically Eddie. And the energy that goes through his body… I don’t know how he’s not on the floor the whole time because the way he moves his body is just second to none. I’ve never seen anyone do anything like that.
David: He obsesses on the physical attributes. There’s a woman there, yeah, a movement coach, and he’s really in tune with that.
Callum: You can see it on [The]Theory [of Everything], and you can see it on this one, and the way he does it is so delicate and he’s hungry and determined to get it right.
David: And also, I think he dares to fail, and I love that about him. If you look at the choices he’s made, he’s not playing it safe at all. Even with how he’s playing Newt. That’s not the safe choice. He plays him slightly on the spectrum and slightly disconnected, and that’s not your standard superhero.
Callum: He goes above and beyond, and that’s what’s inspiring. The way he flings himself about. I remember on one of my first few weeks, there was a bit where they’re chasing me – and I don’t know if it actually made the movie – but he gets flung from one side of the room up onto the other. And he did it himself. He wasn’t rigged or anything. I was like, “Jesus, like Spider-Man!”
Press: But I heard that he got hurt?
Callum: Oh no. That was actually… I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but he was just walking off set.
Callum: He’s doing all these stunts, and then the simple things…
David: But just the other things that have very quickly come… One of the other questions asked at a previous interview we did together was, “As big as these films are, this feels like an independent film, and there is a sense of “We’re all pulling in the same direction.” There’s a real family. We’re all in it together and we’re working to make it as good as it can be and trying to keep it… And David Yates does a brilliant job. The actors are very involved in all the decisions that are made about their characters, and he doesn’t have a very strong opinion and does not nudge and push. But the collaboration is really powerful, and it’s quite intimate in spite of its great size. Just got a few more toys than a small independent film.
Catherine Horvath: So speaking of you and Eddie, can you describe your character’s relationship with Leta? Especially since the whole Newt/Theseus/Leta triangle is there, but it’s also not fully portrayed on screen.
Callum: I don’t think it’s fully manifested in the way that it seems. It’s subtle and that’s what’s so brilliant about Jo’s writing. Leta and Newt are very similar. They became companions at a young age to survive a situation or environment that wasn’t natural to them. Theseus, on the other hand, is opposite to both of them. And I think in any relationship, opposites attract. And I think that’s where Leta and Theseus are, in terms of their love. There’s so much acceptance and support and generosity toward each other. I think they’re a fiery couple. They’re both strong. What was interesting, actually, was there was a scene that didn’t make the movie, but David Yates described them as the Victoria and Beckham of the wizarding world.
Callum: And I think that that brings them together too. And with Newt, it was very important not to play the hardened brother because that’s not what he is. And I think the relationship between Newt and Theseus is that Newt is running away. Theseus is worried about Newt. He thinks he’s slightly odd, he’s not part of the same society or the system that he’s in, and Theseus is actually trying to drag him into line, into what Theseus thinks Newt should be. And I think that’s the mistake. But actually, it’s born out of love. It’s not born out of authority or anything. He’s worried and he realizes the world around them is crumbling. He says it to him at the beginning of the film. “You have to pick a side. You have to make a choice.” And that’s the theme of the film, for me. And actually, what he’s doing is suffocating him. He’s not allowing him to breathe, instead of that “Easy, easy.” I’m sure Newt, then, would be like, “Hey, Theseus, what’s going on?” But he’s not. He’s like, “Do this. Do that. Because I know best.” And that’s the similarity between the two. They’re so stubborn. Theseus says, “Do this,” and Newt just goes, “No,” straight away. He doesn’t even think about… and that’s the beauty; by the end of the film they’re in line and they take force of the situation that they’re in. But their ideologies combine, in a sense.
Press: Eddie’s character is the older brother and you’re the younger brother? I’m confused.
Callum: No, [Theseus is older].
Press: And then also, did you talk with J.K. about a backstory for you two as brothers, like a childhood experience?
Callum: Actually, we didn’t. Jo is just incredibly supportive and generous, and am I right in saying that’s the finesse of her magic? And she’s written this and she realizes who she is and what she means. And you guys have made so many films together, there’s such a second hand there. There’s so much trust that she gives the space to David; it’s David’s film. That’s what you were saying earlier. And she steps back, which frees everyone else up, I guess. But Eddie and I are actually from the same place in the world, and I think that there’s something in the essence of that, which we got for free. We both used to go to Primetime Video to rent movies, we both went to swim in the same swimming pool but didn’t know each other. That’s kind of a madness, so maybe we were destined to play brothers at some point.
David: And Jo is incredibly close to her sister, and I think you feel the authenticity of that relationship. It’s in page and it’s also, obviously, as Callum says, in the terms of him and Eddie coming from the same place. And also, David Yates has an incredibly close relationship with his brother. And just the nature of that finds its way into the film. But what I love about brothers in this film is that ultimately, brotherhood is more important than anything and that the two of them begin on opposite sides of it. Theseus is a Ministry man and Newt is anti-establishment. And yet, even while that is going on, Theseus whispers in his ear, “They’re following you,” which is a betrayal of the Ministry, but it is his brother and he’s trying to get his brother to go to him. He’s trying to help him, I think, not because he wants him to be on the Ministry’s side. He knows what’s true for Newt. And he wants to help. So the way these people both move, Newt comes through realizing he’s going to have to join the battle, and Theseus realizes he might have to do it outside of the traditional Ministry platform. They’re doing it as brothers, stronger together.
Press: So are you going to be in the next three?
Callum: Yes. I’m excited to see, actually, how it goes, but that’s the plan.
Press: It’s like a soap opera. You don’t know where your character is going to end up.
Callum: I think David might.
David: I don’t know if you’ve seen Roma, but Alfonso didn’t give the script to anybody, not even the producers. I can just imagine. He gave the actors the pages on the day, or slightly ahead.
Callum: I think that’s true. If you’re doing something as good as this is, and true to what this is, I only ever focus on the moment. So you do the research and you understand the essence you’re coming from, but my job is only to play the moment and to hand it over because I’m not telling the stories.
David: He doesn’t know the future.
Callum: Right. In the moment, you don’t know the future. I can’t play the end of the movie or the beginning of the movie; I can only play that one moment.
Press: And do you think this is your big break?
David: I will answer that because Callum is British, so he’ll never say this.
David: He is, for me, one of the most exciting young actors out there. I think he’s incredible. And when he auditioned for this part, there was another part that he was in negotiations for. I won’t say what it was. And we were scared out of our minds that we could not be working together. It was a small film, but it was a really good part. And the relief for all of us when he said yes… I cannot tell you how great that was.
Press: He said yes to this film and rejected the smaller job?
David: And by the way, it’s not that Callum was not willing to be on a small UK TV show. It’s not that Callum was trading a big film for a small film. It’s not that. It’s all work. And is this a break? I guess it’s a break; it’s a huge film. But Callum doesn’t need this film. We need him.
David: I tell you, he has it. And I’m so excited he’s in this film and what he’s going to do in the next episode and what’s to come.
Press: Hopefully, everyone comes out saying, “Who was that guy?”
Callum: The feeling is mutual. I have loved being part of it.