British actor Eddie Redmayne is the current favorite at Warner Bros. to play Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Update (May 12): Warner Bros. has formally offered Redmayne the role of Newt in Fantastic Beasts, Variety reports. According to their sources J.K. Rowling has now finished the screenplay, meaning Redmayne has now had a chance to read the script (last month he couldn’t — see below). The actor is reportedly “very happy” with what he’s read.
Rowling has been at work on the screenplay since before the Harry Potter spinoff series was announced in September 2013. It is the first time she’s penning a film script, and since she’s new at the art form is probably receiving help from Harry Potter screenwriter Steven Kloves, who WB said in October is involved with Beasts.
Original story (April 10): The news comes from Variety, who says Nicholas Hoult has also been considered for the role after working with the studio on their upcoming film Mad Max: Fury Road.
“Director David Yates is still also considering a few other actors for the part but the role, according to sources, is Redmayne’s to lose,” according to Variety. In other words, it’s Redmayne’s role if he wants it, but the report cautions he has yet to receive an official offer.
A reporter for THR adds the following:
Redmayne has been the FANTASTIC BEASTS choice 4 weeks but there's 1 problem: script is still being worked on by Rowling. He hasn't read it.
— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) April 10, 2015
Fantastic Beasts will also cast Newt’s two sisters, their parents, and “someone called Jacob,” according to the same reporter.
The character of Newt first appeared in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them novella in the early 2000s. He’s a wizard who writes about beasts for a living. The film will be set in 1920s New York.
“Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours,” Rowling teased last year.
Redmayne, who’s 33, has been in the spotlight as of late thanks to his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He won an Oscar for the role in February. He recently worked with Warner Bros. on Jupiter Ascending.
The first Fantastic Beasts film is set to hit theaters November 2016. Rowling and the studio are currently planning “at least” a trilogy, with filming set to begin “late summer” at Leavesden Studios outside London.
Harry Potter alums David Yates and David Heyman will direct and produce the series respectively. Rowling penned the film’s screenplay.
Eddie Redmayne as Newt: A good or bad choice?
Interestingly, Eddie mentioned that he badly wanted to be in a Harry Potter film on a recent episode of The Graham Norton Show. “A few years there, there was the Harry Potter films — there was a whole family of ginger people. I thought I’d somehow be a part of that at some point… it never happened,” he said. Watch below: