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, Turner tells us about auditioning for the role, more about Theseus’ relationship with Newt, and what it’s been like joining this world:
What can you tell us about your character?
CALLUM TURNER: I play Theseus, who is Newt’s older brother, even though I’m younger than Eddie, which is interesting! He’s kind of the opposite of Newt. He’s gone through the same schooling obviously, but once he got out he decided that the establishment was the way to fight the good fight. Theseus is or may be quite more rigid or just part of the establishment. You know, he’s the head Auror at the Ministry.
Can you talk about the casting process? How you got the role and auditioning with Eddie Redmayne and everything.
TURNER: It was kind of the normal process of going in with Fiona Weir, who is the casting director and then having a second meeting with David and then having a third with Eddie, which I was really, really excited about, working with, like workshopping it with David and Eddie. Because obviously David’s like one of the best directors we’ve got in England, and I think Eddie’s the same as an actor ,and I followed his career upwards basically, not tried to model, but have been lucky to be able to go and do American indies like Eddie has, and I was very impressed and inspired by the choices that he makes. He’s always made really good choices, so, yeah, I was over the moon to just go and meet him and, actually I did this weird thing, because on the first take there’s this scene, and um, I just kissed him on the head. I just– we weren’t even recording …
You shouldn’t be telling us this.
TURNER: It’s not in the movie. There’s no reason for me to have done it, but .. yeah, I think that’s probably why I got the part.
How did he react?
TURNER: He’s just very nice man and didn’t really say anything, but I’m sure when I left the room they were like “Huh?” But yeah — it was within the conventions of a casting process, pretty normal but with really brilliant people.
Can you talk about the wand for your character?
TURNER: The art department just basically came up to me with like three different wands, and they were like “Which one do you want?” “That one.” I broke it when we were doing camera tests. Yeah, not smooth at all. You’re not meant to do anything on the camera test. You’re meant to just stand there basically, and I managed to break the wand. It just flew out of my hand.
Have you met JK Rowling yet? If so, what was that like for you?
TURNER: I have met her and it was quite a big moment. I was quite nervous actually, one, because it was the read-through, so there’s like 60, 70 people in the room, and two, because she’s like a hero of mine. I read her books when I was nine years old, ten years old, and on top of that she’s an extraordinary woman. And she’s really nice, man. She like made me feel so welcome. You know, she really made an effort welcome me into the circle.
Did she give you any advice on playing the character?
TURNER: No. She did say to me ,”I didn’t think of Theseus as how you look, but” and I was like “All right, cool, man. I’m gonna give it a shot,” so …
Someone mentioned how your performance has almost informed how she’s thinking about the character going forward, which is interesting.
TURNER: I don’t know about that!
What’s been the most fun part of this whole experience for you so far?
TURNER: Oh, man, like every single day it’s so nice to come into work, like everyone’s amazing. Everyone’s really cool, and I’ve made loads of friends, but that’s just on a human level. On like a professional level it blows my mind every time we go into a set and it’s just huge. I mean, some of the money they must spend on these sets is more than some of the movies that I’ve done. Yeah, it’s just– it’s amazing. It really is a real pleasure, man. Like this is part of the Harry Potter world and such a thing, and I’m a fan of it, and, yeah, it’s amazing. I’m very lucky to come in to work here every day.
You seem very chill and friendly. Are we going to see more of a stern, serious kind of character onscreen?
TURNER: Yeah, I mean, he’s the opposite to Newt. I guess he’s more rigid, and he’s conformed to the way that people want you to … he’s become one of them I guess, and he went to Hogwarts. He was taught by Dumbledore. He’s from that school, and he became this, which you can take…
What house are you? Have you done the quiz?
TURNER: Someone asked me the other day. I actually got Hufflepuff.
What does your character think of Newt’s newfound success? Does he resent him at all for it?
TURNER: I think there’s sort of a relief. Theseus is really successful. He’s a very determined man to reach the top, and I think that having his younger brother sort of float around in this obscurity in a sense was quite worrying for him.
You’re one of a few new characters for this movie. What was it like coming in with this cast that was already established for the first film?
TURNER: Oh, man, it’s so daunting. I mean, like I’ve been watching all these people’s films since I was a kid, like Johnny Depp, I mean, Eddie as I said, even Ezra [Miller]. You know, I’ve been a big fan of Ezra before I started acting, so yeah, it was pretty scary. But, like I say, everyone’s so nice and wonderful that it was quite a smooth boat into being there. I’ve been here forever, you know. I forgot there was another film before.
You’ve worked on a lot of smaller-budget movies, you said. How have you coped with the visual effects side of things on this movie?