Eddie Redmayne is trading in his big Stephen Hawking brain for a wizarding wand. Warner Bros. has announced that the Oscar winner will star in the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The first film loosely based on J.K. Rowling’s “textbook” is due in theaters Nov. 18, 2016, and will mark Rowling’s first screenwriting credit.
The first film will reportedly be set in a very different time and place than the original Harry Potter franchise – 1920s New York City. Redmayne will play Newt Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts in the Potterverse. Scamander is a famous researcher of magical animals, also known as a “magizoologist.” Presumably, the trilogy will focus on his adventures in discovering fantastic beasts while discovering where to find them, but that’s mostly speculation.
All in all, the news of Redmayne’s casting is a net positive – he’s a great actor and will be an asset to the franchise. But one wonders just how, for lack of a better word, “necessary” this new set of movies is, or what value the Fantastic Beasts trilogy will have besides continuing a lucrative franchise that has, for all intents and purposes, run its narrative course. Then again, having the creator of this universe goes a long way toward legitimizing this as more than just a craven cash-grab. I guess we’ll all be able to judge a little better in about a year and a half.