Dan Fogler on his Fantastic Beasts audition and the magic of the movies

Dan Fogler, one of the stars of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, talks passionately about what getting cast in the film means to him.

Dan Fogler will be playing Jacob Kowalski, a working-class No-Maj, in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As one of the four stars of the movie, he’s had a lot of media exposure of late, and proven a likable guy. That trend continues in a new interview with Pottermore, where he talks about his audition. “If the Harry Potter universe calls, you don’t hesitate,” he says. “If you have an opportunity to be a part of it, you jump on, hold on and stay on for as long as you can.”

I put a little costume together, made of what I thought Jacob would wear. You know, suspenders and cut-off hobo gloves and a patchy newsboy cap… I was very furry and shaggy. So, I went in and I felt really good about the audition. I flew out to the UK and did a screen test, but then my agent told me, “Well they’re going to look at a bunch of people.” You know, “Next time champ, don’t worry about it!” I had heard about a few people auditioning [for the part of Jacob], so I put it out of my mind.

Getting the brush-off at auditions has to be a common experience for a lot of actors. But eventually, things turned around for Fogler…at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, of all places, where he was trying to sell his own comic books.

I just felt very low, in throngs of costumed people pulling towards me. I was making my way upstream like a lone salmon. I got the call and they were like, “Hey, you’ve got the part.” It was amazing. It was life-changing right then and there. A bolt of lightning. It was just incredible, like everything that came before had been a dream.

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

You know what’s been interesting about my career?’ he says. ‘It’s been this slow rise with long plateaus. I’ve had time to taste fame but I definitely lean towards being the kind of actor where I’m happy to be able to walk down the street and go to the corner store and not get hassled. I don’t know what it’ll be like when the movie comes out. All I know is that I will try to be myself. I’ll probably just hunker down with my family and do some baking.

Fogler has a long career in acting, theater, music, and comedy. He’s been in the voice casts for stuff like Kung Fu Panda and American Dad, won a Tony for her performance in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway, and is part of a comedy rock band called 2nd Rate. But yes, appearing in Fantastic Beasts will raise his profile. Happily, he seems like a well-adjusted guy who can handle it.

As for working on the movie itself, Fogler describes it as “just delicious. I was surrounded by amazing, top notch, talented people and it was just a pleasure to come to work every day just to see what everyone brought to the table. In every scene there was a nugget of real magic.” Not everything went as planned, though. For example, costume designer Colleen Atwood had a different idea for what Jacob would wear than he did.

Oh, it was nothing like what I thought. I came dressed as a newsboy – that’s what I had available. But what Colleen put together was very close to a [Charlie] Chaplin suit, with the waistcoats and the layers. There were different coloured buttons on it and little coloured fringes. I imagined it was his only suit; a borrowed suit that didn’t really fit right, but it’s all Jacob had. Costumes like that feed your character so much information.

We’ll all get to see Fogler in action on November 18. Until then, we’ll leave with this affirmational quote from him about the magic of the movies:

With acting, you have this force on the silver screen and it can hit a person – or lots of people – in the audience and it moves them. That’s magic. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s magic.

It sounds like they found the right person to be in this movie.