Claudia Kim Talks “Fantastic Beasts” and Her Career in American Movies
Actor and model Claudia Kim is known in the wizarding world for her portrayal of Nagini in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. She recently sat down for an interview for Wonderland magazine, where she talked about her early career, joining the Fantastic Beasts universe, and the position of women in the movie industry.
Kim described that her love for film and acting developed in her early childhood. She says she would sing, put on plays with friends, and record herself as a pretend TV presenter. For bringing cinema into her life at such a young age, she credits her dad, saying, “My father always had a huge love for film, so he bought tonnes of videotapes and CDs every week.”
While her desire to be an actor was sparked in childhood, it wasn’t an impulse decision for Kim. She took time between her first roles, “exploring different career paths” and reflecting on her decision to join the movie industry.
I decided I needed time to consciously decide to commit to acting. So after my first show in 2006, instead of jumping into the next project, I stopped to do some identity searching. After three years of intense thinking, soul searching and praying I was able to finally say, ‘I think acting found me for a reason and I’m willing to seriously dive into this.’
Kim spoke about the outside influences she had during her formative years while living with her family in South Korea. To help improve her English, she watched Japanese-American CNN anchorwoman Karuna Shinsho. Kim says she wanted to reflect the strength she saw coming from a female news anchor and dreamed of growing up and having “a strong voice as a woman like she did.”
I loved fantasy like Alice in Wonderland, Beetle-juice [sic], The Addams Family, [and] James and the Giant Peach and watched badass girls in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and lots of samurai and kung fu action films thanks to my dad. I read Marvel comic books, X-Men and Batman too, and music-wise, Madonna and Mariah Carey were my idols. I think through music or movies, I was already admiring smart, influential, powerful women.
Before Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Kim’s other role in a major movie franchise was in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Dr. Helen Cho in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. While her role in the MCU was short-lived, fans of Kim saw her again on the big screen as Nagini. She spoke in the interview about what drew her to the role.
I knew the audition was for the Fantastic Beasts film, so I just remember wanting it so badly. I loved the first film and the complexity, vulnerability and beauty of the character.
In June of this year, Kim attended the Women in Film Annual Gala. WIF is an organization that “advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries.” She was the first Korean actress to attend the gala and says she was “honored” to be at the gathering.
It was such a beautiful celebration in hopes for a better future. I hope there will be many more to come and I truly think it holds so much meaning to bring together women in our industry, create networks, and help encourage each other to bring forth change.
In light of the Me Too era, Kim notes that more women, herself included, are being given more opportunities to speak about the issues surrounding the inequalities of filmmaking. She admits “there is so much change that needs to take place” for the industry to succeed in bringing forth gender and racial equality. But that doesn’t seem to damper any hope she holds.
I may not yet have the full maturity and knowledge to speak to them about how they need to change, but I think it’s an amazing start to get to be completely honest and share my journey and perspective on things.
She says her current project is a Korean TV series but that she is very excited to continue her work in the next chapter of the Fantastic Beasts story.
Are you excited to see what’s next for Claudia Kim?