Oscar-Nominated “Fantastic Beasts” Designers Share the Film’s Secrets

As excitement for the Academy Awards builds, fans of the wizarding world are keeping their eye on the nominations for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film has been nominated for two Oscars: Costume Design and Production Design. Recently, Colleen Atwood (costume designer), Stuart Craig (set designer), and Anna Pinnock (set dresser) revealed some new details about the magical inspirations and small touches that helped them make Newt’s world come to life.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Craig revealed that the original script called for something even more magical from the Woolworth Building, where MACUSA is hidden:

At one time, the script was written that the owl [in the outside decor of the building] would actually come to life—it would animate, fly down and into the revolving doors and take visitors with it.

In addition to the Woolworth Building, Craig explained that the large New York set built in Leavesden Studios in London was based on a few locations in New York City, including the Lower East Side (where Jacob’s tenement building is located) and Tribeca, which Craig noted for its unusual cast-iron details.

Craig also said that his favorite prop is the wand polisher that Newt and Tina see in the MACUSA building. One wheel is made to remove dirt from a wand; the other is made out of ostrich feathers!

You plunge the wand and your arm into this spinning wheel, and you leave with a shiny wand and a shiny arm.

Pinnock discussed how the subtlety of Tina and Queenie’s apartment gives insight into what being a witch in 1920s New York was like. With the magical community living so separated from the surrounding No-Majs, “the girls … had to conceal their magic, so we showed it in their apartment with very subtle details like the wizarding magazines, the mannequin with the magical mending, and the iron ironing a petticoat on its own.” 

We also learned Craig’s inspiration for the Blind Pig speakeasy: a London club he frequented in the 1960s. He brought the “heavily nicotine-stained, with water permeating through the molten joints in the brick” and dirty look to make the bar as seedy as possible.

On the costuming side, Atwood described her inspiration for the admired costume of Percival Graves: legendary New York mayor Jimmy Walker, whom she described as “quite a dresser.” By giving Graves a similar look but adding a sparkly coat “that really pushed the period,” Atwood created a combination that she called “Jimmy Walker meets Joan Crawford.”

What do you think of this new information? Did you catch the design teams’ homages to their various inspirations? Let us know which is your favorite in the comments!

Alison Siggard

Alison is a Gryffinpuff and probably what Hermione Granger would be like in real life, from bossiness to reliance on books to bushy brown hair. She is a teacher, writer, traveler, and a lover of all kinds of stories and storytelling. She is MuggleNet's staff coordinator and a host on Alohomora!