Fiction Film

J.K. Rowling on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Is there any limit to the bounds of J.K. Rowling’s imagination? As prolific as she is creative, Rowling conjures up her first big-studio foray into screenwriting with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in theaters Nov. 18), and if the movie’s latest teaser trailer is any indication, she’s already a script-crafting pro.

“My heroes are always people who feel themselves to be set apart, stigmatized or ‘othered,’” she explains in the feature commentary. “That’s at the heart of most of what I write and it’s certainly at the heart of this movie.”

A flip through any one of her post-Potter novels—The Casual Vacancy and the Cormoran Strike detective series written under pseudonym Robert Galbraith—confirms this Rowling-esque ideology and even The Boy Wizard himself, though magical destiny would say otherwise, was something of an unlikely hero.

The theme continues with Fantastic Beast’s protagonist and magical zoologist, Newt Scamander. He “feels more at home with creatures than he does with human beings,” describes Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays Newt in the film.

Rowling says Newt has “been traveling the world studying magical creatures,” presumably, to detail the experiences for a textbook Harry Potter, years later, would read at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while battling strange beasts and combatting the evil shenanigans of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

In this Rowling-narrated clip, we’re given the first inklings of a plot: Newt’s suitcase—where he collects his magical creatures for documentation—is “an amazing space” you can travel down, and when a character named Jacob unhinges its latches, adventure (and trouble) ensues.

“It’s something that has implications for the whole wizarding world,” Rowling warns with not the least hint of jest. But why should she laugh? Wizards are no laughing matter.

Throughout the trailer, there’s an unmistakable sense that her universe of magic isn’t just an imaginary place existing inside her head but one Rowling has been living among for a long, long time. Maybe that’s why the first-time screenwriter can approach Newt’s tale with such assured brushstrokes and color; his story is most likely not one recently concocted for the sake of a movie but an old narrative already deeply understood and now, bit by bit, ready to be revealed.

But what do I know? Watch and decide …

MELISSA MARNI IS A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA-BASED WRITER AND THE FOUNDER OF LITTLE WORD STUDIO. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO, YOU CAN FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM HERE.

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