Dan Fogler on ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’, Getting to Improvise, and How J.K. Rowling Changed Jacob’s Story

     November 15, 2018

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With director David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts 2 (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) arriving in theaters this weekend, I recently sat down with Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) for an exclusive interview. During the wide-ranging conversation, he talked about what it was like making the sequel after the positive audience reaction, when he found out it was going to be a five-film series, how J.K. Rowling changed Jacob’s story, what it’s like working on an effects-heavy film, deleted scenes, what he knows about Fantastic Beasts 3, and more.

One again written by J.K. RowlingFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald finds Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) being summoned by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) after Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes. Dumbledore wants to stop Grindelwald from recruiting enough Dark Wizards to take over the world. At the same time, Newt and his friends have various problems and mysterious of their own, while Credence (Ezra Miller) has befriended an afflicted woman (Claudia Kim) who eventually becomes the snake Nagini. The film also stars Katherine WaterstonAlison SudolZoe Kravitz, Callum TurnerWilliam NadylamKevin GuthrieCarmen Ejogo, and Poppy Corby-Tuech.

Check out what Dan Fogler had to say below and look for more interviews in the coming days.

Collider: What was it like stepping back on set for the second one, knowing that the audience responded? Because on when you’re making the first film, you don’t know how fans are going to reaction.

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Image via Warner Bros.

DAN FOGLER: It was very comfortable. I felt like it was like college and being a sophomore, coming back and you know your friends. What was cool is the director, David, was like, “Okay,” basically they were like, “You guys, you spent a lot of the first movie figuring out your characters, you know your characters. Go play.” That’s what I felt like, to have that kind of confidence. Because they had a lot of new characters coming in, so they had to focus on them. That was really cool, man, to just be able to say, “Okay, they trust us to just kick ass and take names,” and that’s what I felt like. I felt really good about it. I felt really comfortable and I felt like I did some good work, man. Did you dig the movie?

I did. I think I like the second one more than the first. But it’s probably because I now know the characters.

FOGLER: That’s exactly it.

I’m invested now, when the first one, I was still getting to know everybody.

FOGLER: Exactly. Now, the second one, you don’t need too much exposition and you know everybody basically. It’s just like let’s get off and running and into the building what this is building toward, which is the war.

Is it a three-movie trilogy, is it four? How many movies is this thing supposed to be?

FOGLER: As far as I know, it’s five.

Okay, I wasn’t sure.

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Image via Warner Bros.

FOGLER: Did you hear the story about that? We all signed on for like four, at least I signed on for four, that was the maximum that we knew of. Then we’re all sitting out on this stage, in front of all this press, like for the first time. [Producer] David Heyman was there, David Yates, and all the four main actors, we’re on stage. One of the press people’s first questions they ask J.K. Rowling, when she comes out, is “So, how many are there going to be?” And she says, “Five.” We’re just all, “Wait a minute.”

Right.

FOGLER: Just ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching, you know, like crazy cash register sounds are going off in our heads, like, “There’s another one?” I didn’t know. (Laughs) We were all surprised. I didn’t know if David Heyman knew.

Listen, she has what we call a track record.

FOGLER: Yeah. She can see that. She could really have done like, “Seven. There’s seven. And there might be nine,” you know?

How much did you know about the second one going in? How much is it like you’re finding it on the page? How much has she pulled you aside and said, “Here’s where I envision the arc going for like everything?”

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Image via Warner Bros.

FOGLER: Well, yeah. She’s very particular with the script, and then you get that script to begin with. Then, miraculously, they’re very loose with it, man. They let you like play on set and improvise and there’s a lot of improv sprinkled throughout the whole movie, which is fantastic that they trust us like that. Then, she’ll sit with you. Like, the first movie she sat me down and she basically told me about my whole arc. But then I checked in with her again at the beginning of the second one, she’s like, “Oh, that’s all changed.” I was like, “Oh, man. Come on.” Now I’m at the point where I really don’t want to know what is ahead. I feel like it should be a surprise. I know a little bit of what’s going on in the next movie, that’s all I really need to know.

That’s also interesting because these are not based on books, so things can be changed. Maybe she sees something in an actor and realizes that would be a great addition.

FOGLER: Yeah. Like, someone does something, so even an improv or something, and she can spin that off into a whole new character. Like, just a tiny example, on the first movie, in that first scene when Jacob comes home to his apartment and I said to David like one of the first rehearsals, I was like, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if he like looked over and said, ‘Sorry, Grandma,’ and there was an actual picture of his grandmother there?” Now, my Mel Brooks brain was like imagining me like standing there with like a grandma wig as the grandma, obviously. But no, they created this whole character that was an amalgamation of two lovely ladies and my face, and they made this. They got work that day, just from some sill improv that I made up.

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