What do leading Potter fandom figures and cast think about Fantastic Beasts?

It has been six days since J.K. Rowling broke the news that shocked the entire Harry Potter fandom – she was going to be writing a screenplay for a brand new Warner Brothers film series based in the wizarding world! The series would center around the character of Newt Scamander, fictional author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and would start 70 years before Harry’s story began – and in New York, USA on top of that. The fandom responded in a big way, with MuggleNet alone releasing three podcasts in one day just to discuss the news, each one exploring the news in very different ways. Clearly, we are very excited about the news, so we decided to reach out to some of our friends, fandom icons, and Harry Potter cast members – Joe Moses, Rohan Gotobed, Hank Green, and Will Dunn – to get their reactions. You might be surprised… or not.

MN: What was your initial reaction to the news?

Will Dunn (WD): Confusion…you know how Twitter is when it gets into a frenzy! But then I actually worked out what was happening…

Hank Green (HG): I ran straight to Twitter to freak out as publicly as possible. I am very excited; it’s going to be fantastic. The only thing I wish is that it had been a book first, then a movie.

Joe Moses (JM): Thrilled! Probably a little more excited than I should be.

Rohan Gotobed (RG): Undoubtedly surprised; I think everyone was, and I’m not sure how they managed to keep their plans quiet! My reaction was also initially negative rather than positive, but since the announcement I’ve become a lot more open to it if it’s done right. The longer JK Rowling is writing these screenplays, the less time she’s spending writing books!

MN: Are you more excited as a fan or as a performer?

HG: A fan, definitely. Performance is a result of fandom, fandom always comes first.

JM: Fan! But honestly the thought that I could one day maybe possibly somehow over the rainbow be in a wizarding world film made my heart nearly explode.

MN: How do you feel about the material not being in book form first? (Even though it kind of is!)

WD: I’m not hugely fussed, mostly because JK’s writing it. I mean, had it been conceived and written by a different team and screenwriter I would’ve questioned it, definitely. But the fact that Jo’s doing it reassures me a massive amount [since] you get the feeling that she’d only do something like this if she really believed in it and had faith that it could work. Obviously money was always going to be a big factor with this kind of thing [since] Potter is so huge, but with Jo (and hopefully others? Who knows.) onboard then I’m way more confident that we’ll get a good story and a good film too…

RG: I quite like both the reference books published for Comic Relief, and I’d be surprised if Warner Bros. give no money or press to that charity. I’d have preferred the film to have been made into a narrative book to start with, but if a book written by JK Rowling had been adapted into a screenplay by JK Rowling then the film would be several hours long! At least we also can’t get disappointed just because a chapter or character was cut from the screenplay.

MN: How “like” Potter do you think the films should be or feel?

WD: They should have their own distinct feel, definitely. I reckon there needs to be a contrast between Potter and this, otherwise it’ll just feel like a continuation of Potter, which, by the sounds of things, it isn’t meant to be. I do think it should have similarities, though, aesthetically, so it feels like it’s still part of the same universe as Potter. A big problem I had with the first Hobbit film was how different it looked compared to Lord of the Rings, in some ways it felt like a totally different world, to me anyway. So I hope it retains some similarities but not too many… I think it’d be cool if they got at least some of the old crew back… No, that wasn’t a hint!

RG: The least amount possible! I’d be very disappointed if certain characters like Dumbledore and Grindelwald turn up, but there are some HP characters who felt somewhat unfinished. If we met Aunt Muriel or Elphius Doge [sic] when he’s travelling around the world then that would be exciting. Rowling should try to keep it recognisable to Harry Potter fans but definitely make it American, showing us what it’s like to be a wizard in the US [as] opposed to Britain. Like I said in my blog if the film draws on things like The Great Gatsby and the atmosphere of the twenties then it could be something very special!

MN: Joe, this question is just for you. Would StarKid make a musical for Newt’s world if the inspiration struck?

JM: Nothing is out of the question! Obviously no one will know until the films are actually seen. I’d personally be interested in taking on a new role within the wizarding world…film or stage.

MN: Finally, favorite fantastic beast?

RG: FLOBBERWORMS! Maybe they weren’t always so harmless?

JM: Murtlap

HG: Blast-Ended Skrewt

WD: Phoenix. Or a hippogriff! Still can’t dance like one though. 🙁

MN: We thank each of you for taking the time to speak with us!

Additionally, we recently reported on Fantastic Beast reactions from David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter series, as well as Mr. Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

Now that it has been nearly a week, how do you feel about the news? Still as excited? Anxious for more news? Let us know in the comment below!

Kat Miller

I am a 40-something Ravenclaw/Slytherin from Massachusetts. I've been lucky in life and can attribute a lot of that to Harry Potter. Without it, I wouldn't have at least 80% of the things I do today, including my career & closest friends. I truly despise Sirius Black.