Producer David Heyman helped guide the hugely popular Harry Potter film adaptations to the undeniable success that they’ve achieved. And next, he’ll be returning to that wizarding world with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, about the adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards, 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school, for which the goal is to have three films, releasing in 2016, 2018 and 2020.
During an exclusive phone interview with Collider, for the release of Paddington on Blu-ray/DVD, David Heyman talked about having J.K. Rowling on board to write the adaptations, that they’re still in such early stages that they don’t have a start date yet for the shoot, and also being in the early stages of the casting process. He also talked about why The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, from the book by Mark Haddon, is a project that he’s particularly passionate about and hopes to get into production, and that he’s waiting for Steve Kloves to have time to write the script.
Collider: Obviously, it’s very difficult to successfully adapt any book series, and you did that, above and beyond, with the Harry Potter films. What does it mean to you to have had a hand in that, and what are the biggest concerns for you, in continuing that legacy with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?
DAVID HEYMAN: What does it mean? I don’t know. It’s just about doing the best you can, telling stories in a way that is making good films with characters that people of any age can relate to and that move an audience. It’s really exciting to be embarking upon Fantastic Beasts. I can’t wait. Jo [Rowling] has got such an incredible imagination, and it’s lovely to be in the wizarding world again.
How far along are you in the development process for Fantastic Beasts, and do you know when you’ll start shooting?
HEYMAN: Jo is writing, and we don’t yet have a start date. We’re in the very early stages of pre-production and development.
There’s been talk about certain actors possibly getting involved. How excited are you to possibly have Eddie Redmayne as the star, and how soon do you think you’ll announce your lead actor?
HEYMAN: There are a few big parts. We’re early on in our casting process. There are some really exciting possibilities for the parts, but we’re still very early on in the journey.
Which of your projects do you have come out next, and then which you’ll go into production on next?
HEYMAN: The film that will be coming out next will be The Light Between Oceans, which Derek Cianfrance has directed. That’s got Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, who was just in Ex Machina. And then, the next film that we’ll shoot will be Fantastic Beasts, I suspect.
Do you like to have a number of projects in various stages of development because you never know what will actually go into production next?
HEYMAN: I’ve been in pre-production, production or post-production since 1999. That’s just the way it’s been. I don’t look at it, in that way. I just take it as it comes. I’m living in the moment. I just try to move each of the stories, scripts and projects that I work on forward. And when they’re ready and the people are ready to make them, we’ll do that. But until then, one has more than one thing in development and more than one thing that one cares for because you don’t know what’s going to happen and what isn’t. It remains a challenge to plan projects that you’re passionate about. Ultimately, the only way I can work is if I care and am passionate about a project, so the challenge is to find projects that I feel that way about.
Is there a project that you have, that’s been in development limbo for awhile, but that you’re still holding onto and hope you can get into production, at some point?
HEYMAN: Yes, there’s a project called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and that is my great hope.
Why do you think you haven’t been able to make that happen yet, and what keeps you holding onto it?
HEYMAN: It’s a story that moved me when I read it, and it moves me today. And I’m waiting for Steve Kloves to deliver a screenplay. He’s been a little busy on Potter, and now on Jungle Book. One day, I hope the day will come when he delivers the script. He’s a great writer and a great director, and I think it would be wonderful to see him behind the camera again.