Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston “Crimes of Grindelwald” Roundtable Interview
by Catherine Horvath · Published · Updated
Transcribed by Sara Molnar and Jennifer Rapp
SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
The dynamic duo of Newt and Tina is back and better than ever. No really, they have so much better chemistry in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. They discuss their characters’ development, what it was like to return to the wizarding world, and Jude Law as young Dumbledore.
Katherine Waterston: Tried to recast us, but there was no one available.
Press: But the element of surprise that was involved, that you guys don’t really know where the story is going, that when you signed on, you were just about the first ones?
Press: Signing blind.
Press: Yes. Can you talk about the surprises that are in Part 2?
Katherine: It’s so much fun. We don’t know much before anybody else what in the heck is happening.
Eddie Redmayne: As we found out two days ago when we all got off the plane to find that Jo had tweeted that the next film… that some of it was going to be set in Rio de Janeiro. We were like, “Oh, that’s cool!”
Press: The next one is set in Rio de Janeiro?
Eddie: Some of it, apparently.
Katherine: But you could have learned that as we did.
Eddie: As we did, yeah.
Katherine: As she tweeted it, yeah.
Press: So the salamander line that you’re not supposed to say, comparing their eyes… Has either of you been on the giving or receiving end of a questionable line? A line that’s as bad, or indeed, as good as that?
Katherine: I don’t know if I’ve been on the receiving end of a line as specific as that. [laughs] It’s very particular. You?
Eddie: I actually can’t think of one, but I always… No, I was never really one for the cheesy lines. I was always a bit…
Press: It’s not a cheesy line, though.
Eddie: It’s actually… Salamanders is not a cheesy line. What I love about that weird line is that Tina gets it. Jacob [says], “Don’t say that,” and secretly Newt knows that she’s going to love it.
Katherine: She going to get it.
Eddie: It’s, like, primitive.
Press: Does Newt change in this one? And when you signed onto this, Eddie, did David or Jo give you at least an outline of where you were going to start and where you were going to end before you’d say yes?
Eddie: No. I mean, I’d read the script for the first one before I signed up. And with all of these… Whenever you do a film that’s more than one film, you’re sort of committing your life to it and potentially 10 to 15 years of your life to it and your family life, so it’s a big step, I think. But for me, the person in charge of that step is one of the great imaginations of the 21st century, and that is what I just threw myself into. As far as Newt changing in this, what I love is that he has… Newt has always been an outsider. He’s created this cocoon of safety for himself, and he’s a good person and he has great quality with these creatures, but is that enough? Is it enough to be a good morally upstanding person?
Katherine: Within the comfort of your own home.
Eddie: Exactly. When the stakes of the world are so extreme. And I feel like in this film, he realizes not only does he have to engage, but he [has to] get Dumbledore to engage.
Catherine Horvath: Speaking of Dumbledore and their relationship of equals…
Eddie: According to Jude. [laughs]
Catherine: Right. What makes Newt so special to Dumbledore? Because he talks about Newt having a desirable skill set, and we’re talking about the strongest wizard in the wizarding world, Albus Dumbledore, not having a skill set that Newt has. Can you explain?
Eddie: I think that what I love about Newt is that he’s not the greatest wizard in the world, but his skill set is so specific. I mean, Tina and Newt call Grindelwald at the end of the last film using a distraction technique – had to see this one – and the sort of lasso [pronounced “lay-sew”] that Dumbledore wouldn’t have thought to use.
Katherine: That’s lasso [pronounced “lah-so”] in our country.
Eddie: Magical lasso. [laughs] But also in the film, Dumbledore physically can’t move against…
Press: Because he physically can’t because of the blood [pact]…?
Eddie: Blood [pact], but protect the secrets.
Felicia Grady: Now that Dumbledore has that, will he still need Newt to do his dirty work?
Eddie: I hope so!
Eddie: For me, the end of this film and the way it seemed to cut between Johnny sort of enticing Ezra in and me sort of confronting Jude’s character, Dumbledore, going away, you’ve got, “If you’re going to send me out into the field, no more lies. We have to be in this together and you need to act.” It feels like an engagement of that group who were on the bridge outside Hogwarts and this Darker side.
Press: What do you think Jude brought to Dumbledore? What do you think Jude brought to that character? This is a question for both of you.
Katherine: Well, he’s so modest, but obviously, that he had an incredible responsibility to the fans and to this larger story to come in and convince us that he is this guy. And he totally nailed it.
Eddie: With few scenes as well.
Katherine: Yeah. We talk a lot about how he really got the Dumbledore twinkle. He’s very modest about that and he says, “Oh, they put that in in post [production].”
Katherine: And that sounds like some little add-on thing, but actually, it comes really from the depth of someone’s soul, so it’s very hard to achieve that kind of [unintelligible] and mixture of sort of mercurial mischievous streak and an immense warmth, that if you’ve met Jude, you know actually is something that comes quite naturally to him.
Eddie: And he managed in that first look… His first day on the set was when Newt and he see each other on the St. Paul’s cathedral, and that first time when he looked over his shoulder he managed to capture all of that gravitas and the CGI twinkle. It was amazing.
Press: How has your life changed? And where have you been recognized by kids or whoever, where it’s like, “Wow, it’s a whole new fan base”?
Eddie: Well, I think the interesting thing is we make these films in a vacuum, basically. We make them shrouded in secrecy next to the wizarding world outside of London in Watford and it’s so weird because you’ve got the museum there. And so as we drive to work every morning, you pass Voldemort and Harry and Hermione…
Eddie: … and past the Basilisk and things. And then you go into work, and right next to it we’re making these movies. And David [Yates], our director, creates this very intimate environment so that you feel quite protected. And it’s only really when you go out, and I think it’s foreign countries, when you go to Beijing and there are people dressed up as Newt and Tina. You go to – I don’t know – Japan, [and] you sort of realize… or when we went to Alabama a couple of days ago to this…
Press: You were in Alabama?
Eddie: We went to Alabama to this extraordinary school where some of the students enjoyed reading Harry Potter, and these teachers had seen that and had decided to change their classrooms to the various Houses from Hogwarts. They decorated the corridors, out of their own pockets. This is a low-income school, where 75% of the kids are having their lunch paid for. Firstly, the results have been extraordinary, but we met all the kids and it was dumbfounding. Some of them were dressed up as Harry and Newt and Tina, and it was really amazing.
Press: Did the kids lose their minds when you walked in?
Eddie: They did lose their minds, but we also lost our minds. It was this formidable thing and…
Katherine: Mutual flip-out.
Eddie: Mutual flip-out. Exactly.
Press: If I could ask about your relationship in the movie, you guys have amazing onscreen chemistry and it’s adorable. I wanted to say, in terms of hardcore fans of the Harry Potter franchise, we do know that eventually Porpentina and Newt do end up together.
Katherine: It is written.
Press: Does knowing this actually inform your decisions when you guys are acting together in these wonderful scenes like the records scene and the salamander scene? Which I loved, by the way.
Eddie: Oh, thank you.
Katherine: I mean, it’s so much fun because it’s the one areas thing. The audience has this huge advantage over the characters. When we think the relationship is in trouble, it’s serious business. We don’t, playing these parts, know, “I probably think it’s going to work out in the end.” So when things go wrong, it gets intense, and it was so much fun fighting with you in this one.
Katherine: To just be really annoyed because of course that thing when someone has really gotten under your skin or is really frustrating you, it’s typically like a sound indication that you’re drawn to them. It’s really [unintelligible]. And so it was really fun to push against that, to resist the romance in a way, to give the audience that pleasure of saying, “Oh, these two idiots. They don’t know what we know. They don’t know it’s going to work out.”
Eddie: And it’s also that we don’t know until we read the script what the story is going to be. In the first film, we got to work together so much, so this one I was just like, “What? I don’t get to hang out with Katherine until when?”
Press: Can you offer changes or say, “I’d like to get this explained better” or “We need another scene about this”? Or is this verboten?
Eddie: That’s a really interesting question because the script is… Jo always writes with great vigor and there’s extraordinary detail. But there are moments. For example, I remember originally in the script we saw that zouwu, we were introduced to that character. But we wanted to come up with at least one more moment of connection, we felt, between the zouwu and Newt. So we put in that tiny little scene when he’s down in the case. And that zouwu, I had this idea, [for] with cats, when there’s a thing of wool or a mouse, they play with it. And they pick it up and play with it again and then they fiddle with it. So we came up with it, an idea, collectively, to show Newt’s relationship as he takes [unintelligible]. So Jo has this amazing thing by which, yes, she writes and she writes it fully and thoroughly, but she allows us the freedom to play within that.
Katherine: And we also recklessly invent new tasks for the CGI department in a way to problem-solve within the scenes. So then rather than giving a note about, “I’d like to change the writing of a scene” or anything like that, which we don’t do, we all think, “Well…” When I went into the speakeasy in the first film, I thought, “She would look like a government official if she stays in a regular outfit and she wouldn’t look right there.” And I thought, “It would be really great if I had the appropriate attire.” And we just thought, “Well, we got these wands.” And the CGI department was like, “Okay, guys, it’s going to take us a moment.”
Katherine: But they let us do that stuff, and that is really, really fun to be inventive in that way.
Eddie: And we take it for granted.
Katherine: Oh, totally.
Press: Eddie could you…? I just checked that your 2008 film The Yellow Handkerchief…
Eddie: Oh, wow.
Press: Now you are the franchise star, your OBE, your Oscar, and the two kids you have. You’ve done it all!
Press: So being this acting and life experience, and now you are [a] father. So what do you tell your kids?
Eddie: Well, at the moment my kids are two and a half, and eight months.
Eddie: And people keep asking me, “If you could do real magic, what could you do?” And I would love the capacity to do just a quick sleep spell…
Eddie: … and encourage Luke, my youngest, to sleep through the night, please. Or a nappy-changing spell.
Eddie: I think that at the moment, really, it’s not about what we teach them, but about what they teach me. It’s just every day you learn something new and you have to try and navigate new paths. And also, that old actor’s clichŽ. When you start out acting you think you’re never going to work again. And it’s all about the next job and can you get the next job and can you retain employment and all that sort of thing. And suddenly, when you have a family, it’s like, “Do I really want to go to this part of the world? How good is the script? Am I willing to upheave my wife and my children? And is my wife willing to?” Because she’ll read the script and make opinions in order that we all shift together and move together. And so that’s been quite life-changing.
Press: What do you kids teach you?
Eddie: What do they teach me? They teach me about [how] to be patient. It’s really interesting because I’m the least patient. But also they just open up a part of your heart that perhaps you haven’t discussed before.
Press: And did it make you feel different about your own appearance?
Press: What was your reaction when you heard the first time Johnny’s character’s speech about good and bad and right and wrong? And it’s pretty striking, as you can imagine. So what was your reaction?
Katherine: Well, I mean, I guess first we saw it on the page, and I was just thrilled to see Jo exploring these issues. That was so the issues of our time, and are also the issues of the period in which the film is set. And that we know where that led us in the 20th century and to consider the possibility that we could be hurtling in that direction, again, is totally chilling. And then you put an actor into it who shows us how this happens. It’s not by being simply terrifying, but being seductive and having logical arguments and encouraging people to take sides and to vilify the other. You see it takes a cunning person to manipulate people that way. And Johnny really understood that and I thought he delivered it masterfully. Although, I wasn’t wearing my contacts in that scene.
Katherine: Because when I do wear my contacts while filming, they fog up and then I start blinking and tweaking out in weird ways. So I could not see him delivering it at all. It was so frustrating because it was a big amphitheater and I was quite a way [back] in the nosebleeds. And I was frustrated. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I have to wait until I see it to actually fully take in what he was doing.
Press: And Eddie?
Eddie: Same. I mean, honestly, that was beautifully articulated. Yeah. It’s a mixture of… that it’s not as simple as black and white. That the use of charm, the use of seemingly rational arguments that manipulate.