Producer David Heyman: Fantastic Beasts not as dark as last Harry Potter movie


David Heyman, a longtime producer on the Harry Potter movies, talks about what to expect in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be out in a couple short weeks, and publications are printing excerpts from an onset interview with David Heyman, a producer who’s been working in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He hits tons of points, from the themes of the show to working with J.K. Rowling to the joys of working with adults as opposed to children. Check it out below.

On the origins of Fantastic Beasts, Heyman confirms one of the weirder stories swirling around about it: producer Lionel Wigram originally wanted to make a documentary about Newt Scamander. But once J.K. Rowling heard about that idea, she put in her two cents and dramatically changed the course of the production.

"She said, “well, funny enough I’d been thinking about something already.” And she had this whole idea in some form. I mean, it’s changed and developed over the course of the year and a half and two years that’s been going on. But she knows how each part connects with her universe. She knows the history of magic before we were with Newt Scamander. She knows the history of the school where Queenie and Tina may have gone– I mean she has all this in her head. She knows creatures– their history, where they’re from and on. She’s knows who Newt’s family is, she knows Queenie and Tina’s family, she has it all figured out in some way. So, when she started, she showed us the script and went, “Whoo.” Mm. Thank you."

It’s hard to imagine what a Newt Scamander documentary would have looked like, and I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say that I’m glad Warner Bros. went another direction with it.

But for this woman, we’d be seeing a documentary next weekend. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Rowling crops up often during the interview. As it’s her script, she’s been very involved. Said Heyman:

"She’s a great partner and actually even on the first Harry Potter film, even though she didn’t have the final say, when she came, she’s so helpful. She looked at the wands felt they were a little elaborate– we made them a little less elaborate and so, with this one, there was one thing which she felt was a little too elaborate. And you know, sure, there’s a lot of what we tried to do with the creatures for example is give them — I mean, for the most part they’re quite rooted."

It’s good to know that Rowling is staying hands-on. Heyman praised her deep knowledge of her own work at length, and it surely come in useful when trying to create a thorough, complete experience.

Heyman also talked at length about the cast and crew. Naturally, he couldn’t say enough nice things about them, noting that Eddie Redmayne was their “first and only” choice to play Newt Scamander. “You know, we wanted someone who could play that outsider quality, who was immediately sympathetic and appealing.”

He also had lovely things to say about director Davod Yates. “David knows this universe very well and so, there’s a short-hand and ease in terms of bringing him up to speed,” he said.

"And, the other thing is, I think this film has a lot of colors, you know, it’s got darkness, it’s got fun and humor. It’s got adventure. It’s got sort of tender character moments and it’s funny…and I think that David’s really good at a wide variety of things and can handle them deftly and also in a way that feels truthful."

On that note, Heyman also said that Fantastic Beasts, while it has heavy moments, isn’t as dark as as the last couple of Potters. Seeing that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2 were basically a pair of funeral marches, that’s not particularly surprising, even if Fantastic Beasts has adults rather than children in the leads.

A light moment from Harry Potter and the Deathlly Hallows – Part 2. (Image via Warner Brothers Pictures)

Still, the two film series share more than a few things in common, particularly when it comes to themes. Said Heyman:

"I think there’s this similar emotional potency and character richness. So, we’re not following characters go from eleven to seventeen. We’re not seeing them grow up in that way but each of the characters goes on a journey. And I think that in terms of its audience, it has the potential to appeal to young adults alike."

Another theme that comes up time and time again: outsiders. It’s no secret that the Harry Potter series is built on them. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all outsiders who came together and formed a community. According to Heyman, that thread will continue here. Heyman described the topic at length when talking about Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, and Dan Fogler, who play lead characters Tina Goldstein, Queenie Goldstein, and Jacob Kowalski, respectively.

"And you know, all three play outsiders beautifully…Katherine, again in intelligence and you know when she smiles, the whole world, you know lights up…She’s someone who, as a character in the film has been a little bit on the outside. On the fringes– and you can really see her trying to do the right thing. And trying to, again, having a deep-seated intelligence.If you look at Alison, she’s luminescent. The camera loves her and you can see why someone like Dan would be smitten with her, and I think that she is, is alive and those eyes, you know. She has a real inner and outer beauty and I think that just comes across fantastically and she has an ethereal quality which was important for the part.Then you look at Dan, who’s the real outsider. He’s a nomad entering this world. And he’s a No-Maj who wants to be an enthusiast…He’s great, really funny at the same time you feel that humor and all that. But deep down there’s an enthusiastic side about life, but also within sort of a depth and a truth to his performance."

And Newt, as someone who prefers the company of his beasts to people, is obviously an outsider. It may end up being these characters against the world.

Heyman gave one final speil on the movie’s themes before signing off:

"There’s no such thing as absolute good or absolute, you know. It’s also the choices you make– inform a lot of Jo’s work. And I think those themes– many of the themes that you see in Potter will find expression here. It’s slightly different as you said– We’re not dealing with people going through their teenage years to young adulthood. We’re not dealing with that. But many of the themes remain."

Fantastic Beasts sounds richer and richer the more we read about it. November 18 can’t come soon enough.

Next: Listen to the full Fantastic Beasts soundtrack

h/t SnitchSeeker