New Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston “Fantastic Beasts” Interviews
Transcribed by Felicia Grady and Sacha Huynen
Katherine: This is something I learned in England. They think that double-fisting is a very pervy thing that sounds sexual. But here that’s what we call it when you have two drinks, right? And they call it double-parked.
Eddie: Don’t talk about double-fisting wands.
Female interviewer 1: So for both of you, the complex and function of having to save children in the film, how did that influence how you portrayed your roles?
Eddie: Gosh, that’s interesting. And the answer is, it came a lot down to Ezra’s brilliance. He played… quite often, moments in the film in which you see the obscurus, as there’s a mass of noise and chaos, Ezra would be there for us to play to, and he has that extraordinary capacity of wisdom to him but also of finding his inner child and that fragility, which I found riveting. Also, around the time I had been introduced, there was an article in the UK, the Sunday Times about Lumos, J.K. Rowling’s charity, and I had no idea about the institutionalization of children in countries in which orphanages still exist. So that was something that I had been reading around and as J.K. Rowling managed to do, in this huge epic scale of film, it felt very true.
Katherine: Yeah, and I agree with all of that, and just to add, one challenge you sometimes have in films is to invite the audience into a history that they’re not exactly privy to. Credence and Tina have a past. He doesn’t remember it maybe, but she has been concerned about him for a while before the film starts. And that’s always a scary challenge as an actor because there are no words to help tell this bit, and I don’t know if the audience will feel this connection concerning our bond. But then when I met Ezra, I was like, “Oh, it’s going to be fine. I just love this dude.” So I don’t have to think about this so much. I look at him, and I care about him, so that part of it came naturally, but that’s also to his credit.
Eddie: There’s also something about repression that’s really interesting. There’s a charity in Africa called Dramatic Need in which they use drama, teaching drama, as a way for people who have suffered things at home that they cannot articulate… it’s through creating plays and telling stories that you are able to… there’s a catharsis in it, and it ‘s been proven to me that way, and I think what was interesting about the obscurus is that as the obscurus… the notion of repressing something can be unhealthy, and within that, it can build and stir and cause a lot of damage. So I found that intriguing.
Female interviewer 2: And really quick and perhaps to lighten the mood up a little bit, so…
Female interviewer 1: Yeah, seriously. It was my fault.
Katherine: No, it was a great question.
Female interviewer 1: Thank you.
Female interviewer 2: Did filming this make you hungry? There is so much food!
Katherine: No, because we didn’t see it. It wasn’t in the movie. Actually, we did have a strudel on the table, but movie food starts to look sad pretty quickly.
Katherine: Five hours in, there’s flies.
Eddie: And even worse, I don’t want to break your heart but at the end, the amazing pastries that look like the animals, they’re made of foam.
Katherine: I did salivate when I saw those pastries!
Eddie: And I sat there salivating at the window, and as I picked one up, I was like, “Oh my God, it’s not even choux pastry.”
Female interviewer 3: I was like, I wonder if Dylan’s Candy Bar has those.
Female interviewer 4: Into the fun part of the movie, what was it like filming the mating ritual?
Eddie: Oh my God.
Female interviewer 4: We know it worked because everybody wants to know about it.
Eddie: I don’t know if they are laughing at or with.
Female interviewer 4: No, with, with, right guys? Laughing with.
Eddie: One of the wonderful things about this script was that J.K. Rowling not only writes astonishing words, but the descriptions between were [also] so detailed. You want to swim in those for a while. But that moment in the script, I’ve never seen her use fewer words. She just went “and Newt performs mating dance.” What?
Female interviewer 5: Was this before or after you agreed to the film?
Eddie: This was before I agreed.
Eddie: There’s a masochistic side to me, I think, that was quite excited about [unintelligible].
Also, before you have a job, you think everything’s possible, and then it’s after[ward] you think “Oh, God. How am I going to do the mating dance?”
Eddie: So I made a quick call to Alexandra Reynolds, who is a choreographer who[m] I worked with on The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl, and I was like, “I need help on a mating dance.”
Eddie: And that’s when we went down a YouTube hole of mating bird calls and mating this, that, and the other, and when it came to it, about once every few days, I was going to say I had a really hardcore drink, but it was the middle of the day, so…
Eddie: And Alex would film me doing a mating a dance, and we would send it to David Yates, and there’d be this absolutely horrific four-hour period when I’d wait for a reaction, and then a very serious reaction would come back: “I don’t know if it’s quite seductive enough. I’m not sure.”
Eddie: And so the answer is, it was a long process, and eventually, we got to what you saw in the film, and there is about ten videos out there somewhere in the world that could end my career.
Katherine: There’s a wealth of stuff because we all got to work with Alex in wand rehearsal and Apparating practice and…
Eddie: Oh my God. Apparating practice was something else.
Katherine: We did all this stuff with her. It was so great to work with her, but the thing that’s so great about her is that she doesn’t butter you up. So she’s making a video of you doing something ridiculous and laughing outright.
Katherine: And so I just can’t imagine what she’s got on her phone.
Eddie: A lot.
Katherine: So much really embarrassing stuff.
Male interviewer: When you initially signed on, did you know that you’d do five films, or did they have to clear it with your people afterward?
Katherine: Clear it with my people!
Eddie: Speak to my people!
Male interviewer: What I’m saying is “Five films, and it’s already 2, 3 into the making.”
Katherine: Well, we don’t know what’s going to happen. It depends on whether or not anyone likes this one. We’re super neurotic. And most actors are. You don’t really believe that something’s real until you’re in the costume on set and maybe filmed a number of days with it. It would cost them too much to fire you.
Katherine: It takes a lot. We don’t really think of it like “Well, so I’ll see you in 2019 for the fourth picture. I think I’ll stay on the West Side of London that year.” We don’t think of it in those terms, really.
Eddie: But at the same point, what I loved about this script when I read it is, sometimes on big franchises, you feel like the first film is a pilot of like a warm-up into setting the state of affairs for the next film. And what I loved about this script is, although it references back and it references forward, it felt so whole in what it was, and I just found, it had this element of thriller; there was a darkness to it, but there was a great comedy, and as all of the Potter films, [it] had heart, and I found it really moving, and I found that at the end when Dan’s character is leaving with…
[Katherine clears her throat and makes warning noises]
Eddie: Spoiler! And so I thought, “Oh, God. Whatever happens, I think this is a wonderful story I would love to be a part of.” And as you say, people talk about the second film or that there are going to be five. Only if people enjoy this one, and if they do, what’s lovely is that Jo has written characters that have arcs and that have complications and intricacies that would be wonderful to discover.
Katherine: And you can tell that she’s also chomping at the bit. And we’re so curious to see where she’ll take it because of course, they don’t tell us. And so we don’t know.
Female interviewer 6: So Newt is so endearing…
Eddie: Oh, thank you.
Female interviewer 6: … and awkward.
Female interviewer 6: So how important do you think that is to see…
Eddie: This is actually true. One of [my] greatest fears of this film was, David Yates and I spoke earlier about how prickly Newt is at the beginning and that he’s not someone [who] you instantly… he’s got edges and… what was David’s word? Anyway, he had a word to describe him. And my fear, though, was there’s that line 25 minutes in in which I’m walking along with Jacob, and I go, “I was watching you at dinner. People seem to like you, don’t they, Mr. Kowalski?” And he goes, “Yeah, man. I’m sure people like you, too.” And I’m like, “No I annoy people.”
Eddie: And what I actually feel is that Newt was just massively irritating, so thank you. But I love… ultimately, what you have to commit to is that the qualities in the character that Jo had written and what she knew is that this person has a complete social awkwardness with other people but has great heart and passion. And similarly, Tina’s character is misunderstood, as all the [members of the] quartet are, and yet, they find in each other the qualities that make them grow as characters, and part of the theme of the film is just “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and I think so.
Female interviewer 7: So Katherine, not a lot of people know this, but the era that this film takes place in is when women came away from the skirt. They tore away from the skirt and then started wearing pants and branching out and “I could do something else besides sit behind a desk and be a secretary,” so how is it to play the role? And was it weird to go back in time and be at the start of that?
Katherine: Yeah, I mean, I thought a lot about my grandmothers when I was working on this. One of them was a secretary in New York and took the elevated trains that are no longer in the city but are in our film from Inwood, where she lived, to somewhere on 42nd Street, where she worked, and I thought about her, a young woman in New York while we were working on this, and my other grandmother, who was a total punk, and she was obviously a pre-feminism feminist and was an artist and was very independent-minded and courageous and smart and… so it didn’t seem to me like it’s improbable that there were women like this back then. There’ve always been women like that, I think. And really, the reason why I’m wearing trousers in the film is because Colleen Atwood pulled a few skirts from my first fitting, and I just didn’t see how I… I don’t even know, really, where it came from in my mind. I just thought, “She’s so practical, and this seems like a hard thing to run around the city investigating in.” And I think that’s how a lot of women ended up. The fashion followed the feminism in a way. If you had some practical labor to do or work to do, and you couldn’t do it in a skirt, you put on the trousers, and then it became… it started to represent something, maybe a movement toward this thing we’re still clawing away at, which is equal pay and rights and everything. But I think now, post the feminist movement, we have this idea that before, it was all lousy for women, and actually, [I] think, there were loads of very independent, smart, cool women working, like Dorothy Parker. I mean, there were loads of woman in the ’20s who were writing and working in the man’s world and getting by, so I felt, yeah, it was cool to be at least a fictional representation of those women.
Eddie: But also, interestingly, when I was making The Danish Girl, I remember talking to Lana Wachowski about the ’20s, and the reference in this film about coming back from the war and that notion, certainly in Europe, that when all the men went to war, and women took the male jobs, and then suddenly, the men came back, and there was this… she described this extraordinary moment in European architecture with the arrival of art nouveau and the feminine shapes in architecture. As clothing became more androgynous, I suppose, it was such an extraordinary moment, the ’20s, before the fascists came and architecturally put masculinity on top of it. I think it’s such an extraordinary period, and I know the next film, if we do it, they hope to put into Paris, and it’ll be interesting to see all that. It was an amazing time, that decade.
Moderator: We’re wrapping. Sorry, guys!