Last year, Warner Brothers invited a group of journalists to the London set of Fantastic Beasts: 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, Atwood tells us about adapting Dumbledore’s style from Harry Potter to Jude Law’s younger version, the evolution of Newt’s look, how involved some of the cast members are in developing their character’s style, and much more:
QUESTION: What can you tell us about costuming a young Dumbledore?
COLLEEN ATWOOD: A young Dumbledore. Well, Jude [Law] had some thoughts about Dumbledore, you know, what he felt the younger spirit of Dumbledore was, which was the favorite teacher that all the kids liked; sort of like a mentor to some of the outsiders and embraced special kinds of magical powers. Dumbledore was sort of … vaguely purplish tones in the [Harry Potter movies] so I sort of backed into that. But I didn’t use purple — I used grays and softer tones that were very approachable. His clothes kinda have a soft texture so they feel lived in. And at the same time, you know, a little bit different than what everyone else in the school would wear; more approachable. He has a great coat that everybody loved — a big corduroy overcoat that he wears for a scene in the fog. And Jude looks great, he’s a great-looking man, so it doesn’t hurt.
How have Newt’s costumes evolved from the first movie to this one?
ATWOOD: Well, what happened with Newt is we all sort of fell in love with the blue coat, right, so what I realized that I wanted to do with it is … you know, he’s done a little better in the world on the outside. His clothes are a little bit nicer quality; they’re not quite as rumply, they’re a little more urban I’d say. And what I did is I took a gray fabric that I had woven for the film, because I found an old piece and then the mill luckily reproduced it for me and then I wanted. We just wanted a little bit of a hint of blue, so I did a screen over it of little, tiny blue dots so in some of the light you catch kinda the old blue. It’s pretty subtle, but you get a little kick of it without it being the same. I left the waistcoat almost the same color becauseI felt like it was a color that was like animals in the wilderness have sometimes; their outside is kind of subtle but they always have a couple feathers or a little thing here and there that gives it brightness. So I sort of did that color-ish again for him for his waistcoat.
Everybody knows the iconic Hogwarts uniforms. What’s your take on it? How did you change it especially for this movie?
ATWOOD: Well, it’s a fairly classic look but in this movie I had Hogwarts in two different time periods. So for their earlier period I did a nod to [that era with] a longer skirt, ankle boots, you know, the sweater, shirt setup’s the same. And then for the ‘30s take on it I just shifted it into that. The robe itself, I mean, the robe is based on a medieval robe basically; those robes are a very old design. I sort of took them out of the choir robe thing and did a little bit more trim on them, a velvet trim on. And then the hoods are the house colors inside, and so we did some fun things like that, but they’re pretty classical.
Talk about the design for Leta Lestrange. Is she going to go in the super dark Helena Bonham Carter direction, or a little bit lighter and less Goth?
ATWOOD: We’re kind of looking at the ‘30s here; we’re looking at a period where it’s modern in a sense, compared to Victorian. Even though Helena was in modern times, her nod was definitely to the– you know, to the Victorian. But with Zoe Kravitz, who plays Leta, we did a much sleeker, kind of more pared-down version. She’s from the manor born, she’s an aristocrat, and I played up the glamor that an aristocrat of that period would have in the world of magic.
Tina has a lot more confidence this time around after the success of what happened. She’s reinstated as an auror. How are you translating that into her costumes?
ATWOOD: We went with a dress look at the beginning — like a cape and this great dress and she’s like become the Carmen in the last one. Not quite but, you know, sort of more political look. And then we went back to her sort of detective look, so we went back to the trousers. And we did this coat that is this blue leather kind of trench coat that’s really cinched around her that looks fantastic because she’s so tall and thin, but it also is empowering. And I based it off a real period sort of trench coat. It’s this really beautiful dark navy-blue color, so it’s quite striking on her physique and stuff, but it feels powerful like, when you see her, you feel like she’s got some chops. [Laughs]
Talk a little bit about the French influence this year and the French ministry. Will they be the best-dressed ministry?
ATWOOD: Well, I sort of mixed it up. When I did my French research, you know, the period’s a lovely period, but I also found a lot of kind of eccentric … kind of the “quality morning suit” look on some of the older gents, and and it’s sort of a combination of that and just kind of a spiffier look on the guys. The women — you don’t see that many women in the Ministry of Magic, but we will see them and when we do … we’ve shot that, but those people will recur, and they’re quite striking. We also have the French aurors, which are a good look. Just say it.
I covet Queenie’s dress from the first movie. What are we going to see her in in this one?
ATWOOD: Well, I had a great first fitting with Alison. We’ve sort of talked about like, you know, where do you think you’ve gone? Because I always say that with these guys that come back, they’ve thought about who their characters have become. And she says, “I was thinking I might wear a tartan, a plaid.” And I was like “Oh, [Laughs] I’d never thought of that.” But I had this old piece of plaid fabric that I’d bought in — strangely enough in Germany — that was a vintage piece of fabric. And I took it and I reworked it, and I printed it for her dress. And it’s a plaid, but it’s not quite a tartan; it’s happy, it’s kind of got a Queenie quality like Queenie’s moved on, but it’s still a very girlish Queenie quality to it.
Johnny Depp had quite a lot to say about his costumes in Pirates of the Caribbean. I wonder if he’s had any input into his look here?
ATWOOD: Well, Johnny, you know, I’ve dressed Johnny a lot in my life in different things,and he always has, you know, a certain style and something he brings to the table as an actor. He has a physicality that works great in costume because he just kind of owns it quite easily, but this character was … I sort of brought it to him and he was like “Yes, let’s do this.” And then he has a look at the end that’s quite unique that we worked on together. We’re camera testing him the end of the week, so we’ll see how it all flies because I’ve done like several looks on him but it’s a different take and I think it’s fresh and it’s gonna be great on him.
His costume is unique.
ATWOOD: Really. What I did is I used a hand-woven fabric that felt ancient, and I did a couple different versions of him in the beginning for David [Yates] because I didn’t know– we weren’t quite sure where we were gonna go with who he was. When I read up on [Nicholas] Flamel and looked at alchemy and people in that period, I kind of did a more kind of merchant look, which which was a possible solution for that character in time. And then we decided he was in a lab environment, so we sorta wanted to go with a more kind of minimal, kind of almost spiritual look for the character, which is based on, you know, an under-robe more than an over-robe, because usually they’d wear the big, heavy velvet robes over it. But we went much simpler with his character and it worked better with the light hair and everything, and in the lab environment it looks … you could kinda buy it as, you know, ancient lab kinda robe.
How many of these costumes did you physically have to make yourself and how much were you able to pull from other sources like designers or …?
ATWOOD: The principal costumes and the featured characters, like aurors, and all those characters, we make. We have a lot of people that come in for a day and it looks simple, but then all of a sudden they have a stunt double, a photo double. You know, there’s a lot of action with these kinda movies, so it’s better to make the costumes. I don’t know if you’ve been to set today, but the people you see walking around on the streets that are vendors and, you know, coats and hats and those things — the extras, their clothes are rented. So those are rented from England, from Italy, from Spain, from America. Different countries and different costume houses have strengths, so I just sort of pull from everywhere because at this point in the history on the movie, I think we’ve done 2,500 fittings and we probably have about four or five hundred to go. So all those clothes get worked more than once, because we finish with the crowd, we clean ‘em and we recycle ‘em again in a different configuration. But just for the scope, with the number of fittings that you have to do with crowd, a lot of that stuff’s rental.
Do you approach costumes differently? Are there things that you can and can’t do in the costume? It almost has to have a period look to it and those costumes you’d assume don’t allow for that much physicality.
ATWOOD: Well, they also don’t come in the sizes that you need, but I have stretch panels and things like that you don’t see, but that make it so the actors can actually — especially someone like Eddie [Redmayne] who does a lot of physical movement — can actually move in their costume in a way that works for his character, where like you said, a real period costume would be quite restrictive.
In the first movie Credence is in all black, but he’s free now; he’s in the circus. What was that like to take him to that next place?
ATWOOD: Well, I mean I love Credence. I love his character. I love who he’s becoming, and I also think Ezra Miller is a spectacular young actor, a really great actor, and so it’s fun to kinda work with him on where we’re going with it. And he loves a costume, so he’s a costumer’s friend. So Ezra at the beginning of this is sort of a bit more of himself but [Credence] is becoming … he’s owning it more, so he doesn’t have his like very eccentric haircut. He’s not hiding who he is so much, so he’s opening up to the world. So instead of black, I used warmer colors. I used some black. I used some things that are reminiscent of who he was before, because I think all of a sudden even in your life as you change you don’t like “Well, this year I’m gonna wear all red and next year I’m gonna wear all—“ you know, that we take the things that are us and move them on in our lifetimes, and that’s what I’m trying to do with these people. The same with Credence, even though before he was such an extreme character.
How different will he be, and is he going to have more of a sleek look?
ATWOOD: Yes, he has a more official kind of feeling to him. He’s trying to be– I would say he’s like the middle child; he’s trying to do everything the right way. Even though in his heart he may be different than that he’s trying to all appearances be like a young, kind of ambitious wizard that’s coming up in the world of wizardry and in the world of government.
What is it about that character that moves you so much?