Why I’m Convinced Now More Than Ever That Newt Is Autistic
SPOILERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION
We all like to identify with characters from our favorite movies, television shows, books, and franchises. For many, it is easy to find characters to relate to. However, for others, representation in mainstream entertainment is still lacking. For the neurodiverse community, awareness in the entertainment world is growing quickly. Autism is very close to my heart, and having just watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I’m even more sure than ever that Newt is autistic, and that is hugely important! This week, in an interview, Eddie Redmayne even commented that he himself thinks that Newt is autistic:
When he was first described by Jo in the first film there were various qualities – the way he walked, the way he looked, and his eye contact… I think he is on the Asperger’s spectrum.
[Note: Under DSM-5, Asperger syndrome has been collapsed under the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.]
Here are four reasons that make me sure that this is true:
Newt isn’t great at eye contact.
Now, of course, this is one of the most misunderstood areas of autism. It is often thought that everyone who is autistic must not be able to hold eye contact, which isn’t true. However, it is true for many of the community. We saw in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that Newt didn’t always make eye contact when he spoke to others, and this is much more apparent in Crimes of Grindelwald. One thing that is very clear throughout the movie is that although Newt may not be great at looking people in the eye when speaking to them, he is still very attentive and always listening to the person he is talking to. Just because he doesn’t always make eye contact, he is not disregarding or ignoring the other person – and this is hugely important.
Newt isn’t overly keen on physical touch.
We saw this at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when he was saying goodbye to Tina. While we were all dying for Newt to kiss her, Newt was cautious and kept a distance between them. This is revisited in Crimes of Grindelwald, where we see Theseus awkwardly hug Newt. Now, Newt could be uncomfortable with this because there is a rift between the two of them, or it could be because he isn’t keen on psychical contact – which is also the case with many people who are autistic. We even see Newt say to Tina, “My brother, Theseus. He’s an Auror. And a hugger.” Importantly, we do see Newt hug his brother when they both need it the most.
Newt relies on Jacob for relationship advice.
A lot of people who are autistic often comment on how relationships and social cues don’t always come naturally to them. This could be the case with Newt and Tina. During Crimes of Grindelwald, we often see Jacob helping Newt out with what he should do next – like chasing Tina. And of course, we shouldn’t forget the “salamander eyes!” It was so heartwarming to see Newt go against Jacob’s advice, though, on that one. Tina knew exactly what he was going to say, and it was lovely to see how Tina truly knows him and loves him for who he is.
Newt has a beautiful relationship with all of his beasts.
I’ve often heard people who are autistic describe the special bond they have with animals. Throughout Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and many times in Crimes of Grindelwald, we see the incredible bond that Newt has with his creatures. He knows them all individually, he gives them names, and they love him. It’s amazing to watch how Newt interacts with his beasts – they also have such a beautiful connection with him. Newt interacts so naturally with his beasts and truly understands them. Obviously, it’s not just a trait of autism to have such a special relationship with animals – but it’s definitely something that supports the theory that Newt is autistic.
When taking the above points into consideration, it’s important to remember that every single person on the autism spectrum is different and what is true for one person with autism is not true for another – these points are just some simple observations. However, I do believe that Newt is autistic, and Redmayne plays him perfectly. Even more importantly, it’s a non-issue; it’s just another part of what makes Newt Scamander’s character so beautiful and unique. I, for one, will be sure to introduce my child, who is undergoing diagnosis, to Newt as soon as he’s old enough and I’m so grateful he will have such an incredible character to identify with!