Best Actor Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) is in talks to star as Newt Scamander in Warner Bros.’s highly-anticipated Harry Potter spinoff series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut for the franchise, which is expected to span at least three films.
Per Variety, no official offer has gone out, and Warner is also looking at Nicholas Hoult, but Redmayne’s the frontrunner for the part and it’s his to lose. Scamander is a “magiczoologist” who finds and studies magical creatures. In addition to Scamander, there are four other main roles that have yet to be cast – two American girls and two American boys. The films will take place seventy years before Harry Potter, and Rowling has described the new trilogy as an expansion of her wizarding universe that is not intended to be a prequel or sequel to the events of the beloved series.
While Redmayne has achieved great critical success for his dramatic work, culminating in this year’s Best Actor Oscar win for his performance of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, he’s yet to land with a major studio franchise. It’s worth noting that Redmayne auditioned for both The Hobbit and The Amazing Spiderman 2, so it’s something he’s clearly got a desire for. Riding the success of his Oscar win, Fantastic Beasts could be his chance to finally break into the franchise world – a smart business move for the rising actor.
The first installment in the Harry Potter spinoff trilogy is set to arrive in theaters November 18, 2016, with subsequent release dates scheduled for 2018 and 2020. No director is confirmed at this point, but last we heard David Yates, who directed the final four films of the Harry Potter franchise, was in talks to helm the spinoff.