One of the big questions posed to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is whether audiences are interested in a Harry Potter story without Harry Potter. Indeed, the film is an original story set in the wizarding world, conceived and scripted by J.K. Rowling herself, but is that enough? The key, I think, will be in whether these new characters are compelling and build a new connection to audiences, and given Rowling’s track record with both story and character—not just in Potter but also her Cormoran Strike novels—it’s safe to assume we’ll be falling in love with these Fantastic Beasts folks in short order.
But just because the film is set in 1920s America doesn’t mean it’s only tangentially connected to the Harry Potter saga. We’ve already heard Colin Farrell’s Auror speak the name “Albus Dumbledore” in trailers, and in a new video featuring star Ezra Miller, another big connection to Harry Potter is teased: Gellert Grindewald.
We know from Potter lore that around the time that Fantastic Beasts is set, Grindewald was in possession of the Elder Wand and was doing some dark things indeed. We also know, from Rowling, that Grindewald was the love of Dumbledore’s life. So there’s certainly some fascinating drama to be mined, and as Miller teases in the video below, it may play a significant role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the four planned sequels.
This video is also mighty entertaining. When I was visiting the set of Fantastic Beasts last year, I was struck by how passionate a fan of Potter Miller was. Seriously, this guy is a huge Harry Potter nerd, and during our interview he was candid about how much Rowling’s book series means to him. Given that and the humorous nature of the video below, I implore Warner Bros. to make “Ezra Miller Gets Nerdy about Harry Potter” a recurring series.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in theaters on November 18th.