Last year, Warner Brothers invited a group of journalists to the London set of Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Production was just getting off the ground, but we were able to see some truly spectacular sets (more on that in a bit). We were also fortunate enough to speak with some of the mega-talent behind the series, including producer David Heyman, director David Yates, costume designer and living legend Colleen Atwood, supervising art director Martin Foley, as well as stars Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, and Callum Turner (a new face to the franchise who plays Newt’s older brother Theseus). They all gave us really interesting perspectives on the sequel, its connections to Harry Potter, and what they learned from the first movie. And whatever they couldn’t reveal specifically they made up for in charm.
Below, Yates talks about the movie’s politics, where the franchise could go next, the love stories and “grown-up” feel of this sequel, and much more:
DAVID YATES: The script is a very interesting synthesis between a sort of political thriller and love story. So it’s a sort of fusion of genres, if you like, which I think makes it quite unique in this series of films that we’ve been making based on [JK Rowling’s] work. You know, certainly beyond the Potter books, now she’s writing these screenplays, if you like, from scratch, originally for the theater, for the cinema. So she’s come out with this very original kind of melody, which is this: fundamentally, it’s a kind of love story, but it has a really interesting thriller-esque sort of vibe to it as well. And the thing about her books and the thing about the movies, they’re always very generous. You know, they combined a number of genres. In one way, they’re funny, they’re emotional, they have a fantastical element, obviously. They can be quite dramatic. And so this movie is no exception. It’s a really rich meal. It’s full of different textures and tones and the challenge always is to combine all of those textures into one. And Jo starts up brilliantly with the way she lays out the script. It’s a really generous, interesting thriller/love story.
Can you talk about the politics of this movie? I’m wondering if you see this story in some ways as being a response to what’s going on in the world right now?
YATES: If you’re making a movie, ultimately, you can’t help but be sensitive to the world in which you create it. It influences you every single day, influenced Jo when she was writing the script, influences us as we put the whole story together. So we sort of, like– we’re alive to what’s happening in the bigger world. But the themes, I think, are kind of universal and archetypal and timeless, which is ultimately… rather than a direct political sort of counterpoint or context, it’s really about the values of tolerance and understanding and a celebration of diversity. So they’re the ideas, I think, that run right through a lot of Jo’s work. And the values that we explore in this film, and the things that challenge those values and undermine those values, the promotion of fear and the promotion of persecution of otherness, you know. But those things go through history. They’re not just relevant to now. What’s slightly scary is they’re becoming more relevant now. So what’s wonderful is that we’re making a movie that will be seen by millions of people and millions of young people, and we’re making a story that celebrates tolerance, acceptance of the other, and sort of be cynical when people pretend they have all the answers at a simplistic level, because they probably don’t.
Can you talk about Jude Law and how he shifted the dynamic between the main characters playing such a big role in Dumbledore, and how that’s changed the feel of the second movie compared to the first?