Casting Newt Scamander
Firstly, what do we currently know about Mr. Newton Artemis Fido Scamander that would affect the casting?
The fandom seems pretty confident that if this story is to be set ‘seventy years before Harry’s gets underway’ then it is likely the film is to take place in the early 1920s, just after the end of the Great War. If Newt was born in 1897, that would put him in his mid-20s at this point. We can also presume, from ‘his’ commentary in the Fantastic Beasts textbook, that he was a bit eccentric (see “beaten them off with my travelling kettle”). And that is pretty much it! There are some visual references in the films, but since we don’t know them to be confirmed by Rowling, we shall exclude them for time being. Armed with this knowledge, here are our thoughts on who could take on the titular role.
1. BEN WHISHAW
An extraordinary actor who has had more than his fair share of great roles but never one quite as big as this series would offer. Despite being 32, he is capable of looking barely out of his teens as seen in the recent Bond film, Skyfall. He is also no stranger to playing eccentric personalities and has the clipped RP “posh” British accent down to a tee, should that be what the films go for. It is likely he is too well-known for the role, but he would certainly be this writer’s first choice.
2. TOM HUGHES
Most recently seen starring alongside Potter alumni Billy Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time, the 28-year-old has the proven talent to take on a main character in the new/extended franchise. The momentum he was gaining a few years back, with supporting roles in prime time TV dramas and leading ones in small films, appears to have slowed down of late, so it would be great to see him back in the spotlight. It also helps that he is more than a little bit pretty, previously featuring in the Burberry campaign starring Emma Watson.
3. LUKE TREADAWAY
One of Britain’s rising stars, Luke has spent the last few years building an impressive résumé, and with his recent Olivier Award win for Leading Actor in a Play, it is unlikely he will be slowing down anytime soon. A franchise would be a great next step for the actor, and his theatrical credits could only warm him up to Warner Brothers, whose fondness for stage talent can be witnessed by virtually the entire “adult” Harry Potter cast. However, if Luke isn’t available, then there is always his equally talented twin brother Harry Treadaway, recently seen in The Lone Ranger.
4. ANEURIN BARNARD
The youngest actor on this list, Barnard is having a bit of moment over here in the UK with a string of theater, film, and television credits, plus an Oliver Award, already under his belt. He is probably the best placed here, as a youthful-looking 26-year-old, to take on a series, and even if the films spanned a number of years, he recently proved, in the hit BBC One series The White Queen, his ability to play a character across a lengthy time span.
5. DANE DEHAAN
Despite no proof that he can undertake the English accent, DeHaan is certainly at the right stage in his career to take on such a role. Much like Andrew Garfield before Spiderman, he has a number of lead roles under his belt from independent film projects and may be ready to take the next step into a studio piece. He could also learn a few wand waving tips from his new BFF, Daniel Radcliffe!
6. COLIN MORGAN
Colin Morgan’s recent five-year spin at the helm of Arthurian legend family drama Merlin, could perhaps put him off the idea of taking on another leading role in a long-running franchise. However, this could place him in an appealing position for Warner Brothers with his proven wizarding credentials and existing fan base. Should he be so inclined, it would also be great to hear his charming Irish accent bless the silver screen, despite there being no proof that Newt would be of this nationality.
And because no casting speculation is currently complete without his name on the list, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH! Probably doing far too well at this point and definitely too old, it is less than unlikely, but who would honestly complain if he were cast?! He could also definitely play an older brother to Morgan or Hughes’s Newt.
What do you think of these ideas? Who would you choose?