Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
November 3, 2018

In the fantasy epic Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald moves forward with his vision to create a world in which those who possess magical abilities rule over those who do not. Preying upon the fearful, the silver-tongued leader begins to amass a legion of followers for an inevitable conflict with his former ally, Albus Dumbledore. The extensive ensemble for this sequel to 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them includes returning cast members Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and Zoe Kravitz; newcomers Jude Law, Claudia Kim, and Callum Turner; and Johnny Depp as the title antagonist, taking center stage with a role that was only briefly glimpsed in the first film.

Existing in the Harry Potter universe and set decades prior to the boy wizard's clash with the evil Lord Voldemort, the second entry in the Fantastic Beasts series brings its many connections to writer J.K. Rowling's flagship tale to the forefront. Fans will recognize several familiar characters, names, and locations from previously established Potter lore. David Heyman, who has produced all the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films to date, explains that the process of selecting these tie-in elements is more organic than skeptics might believe, and that it will continue to be so moving forward: "It won't be self-conscious. It's just about enriching the stories...People talk about it as a franchise, and I understand that. But the choices are so without calculation, I cannot tell you." He goes on to note that while production decisions clearly require a great deal of thought and consideration, they are all in service to the story that Rowling wants to tell.

In this interview, Claudia Kim and Ezra Miller talk about their experiences of working on The Crimes of Grindelwald. Claudia is introduced as Nagini, a young woman who is afflicted with a blood curse and doomed to eventually become Voldemort's serpentine companion, while Ezra reprises his role of Credence Barebone, a neglected outcast whose traumatic childhood has given rise to a destructive power within--a power that Grindelwald believes will be instrumental in winning the impending war.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is now available on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and VOD.

MEDIA: Ezra, now that you're two films in, has being a part of the Harry Potter universe been everything you expected?

EZRA: Well, because I long ago came unstuck in time, I have the Tralfamadorian view, and so I already know how it ends and everything. So I can't even pretend to speculate, because it's just unfair, this Dumbledore-like omnipotence. [laughs] No, f*** that, that is a joke. Yeah, everything that excited me so much going into this first film, and everything that I found so engaging and wonderful about working on that first project, was quadrupled and massively amplified on this one. The hardcore initiative taken by every single person who worked on these films to up the ante for this second film...Even though I kept saying to people, "The first one's, it's great"...Everyone was on this mentality of like, "But if the next one isn't 200 times better and cooler in every single way, we're going to hit our heads against the wall like Dobby the house-elf." Before he got free. Before he got free. [to Claudia] Claudia? How was your experience working on the first film? How was your experience working on film four of Harry Potter? I loved your performance in that one. I loved your performance in Seven Part 1, Seven Part 2.

CLAUDIA: [laughs] It's like I'm your ancestor or something. But it's good to be in this new age now!

...Claudia, what did the Wizarding World franchise mean to you before coming onto this project?

CLAUDIA: I was really into Greek mythology as a kid, and then getting to read the Harry Potter books was just...It was so amazing since the first book. And I had to get it. You know how in The Devil Wears Prada, she's like, "The kids want the books before they're printed!"? It was that excitement.

EZRA: Oh my gosh, yes! But without the power plays. Without your Meryl Streep swag.

CLAUDIA: No, just my dad's friends traveling to the US getting books for me! [laughs]

EZRA: Hey, whatever gets it done. That's what I learned from The Devil Wears Prada: whatever it takes. It doesn't matter how you feel. That's what that movie taught me.

You're both involved in scenes with a lot of special effects. What sort of practical things were created for you to act with, and act in?

EZRA: Oh my gosh, it's immense and immersive. The biggest CGI thing that happens to create a set is that arena that you see towards the end of the film--the underground, like, amphitheater. The only CGI that creates a set in that way, really, is that we shot that as one half of itself with two different groups of people. And then it was fused together to make that circular amphitheater. Outside of that...I mean, [production designer] Stuart Craig is building these [sets], with our amazing construction crews and our amazing production design teams, and the incredible props department, set dec departments, who flesh out this stuff way more than is necessary, which they were already, again, doing on the first film. And so then in the second film, they were like, "We know we already flesh out all the sets way more than is necessary, but for the second film, we have to do it way, way, way more than is even remotely necessary." This is just unnecessary in the greatest way. I mean, it benefits only us. We go back into the back of a shop that we're never going to shoot a scene in, but it's part of magical Paris, so they built it completely--the cash register is filled with the appropriate magical French money, there are orders written out in the restaurants, There's 500 Sneakoscopes in one corner that you never see in any frame of the film, that you'll never see at all...It's pretty fun for us.

We understand that you like Japanese pop culture...

EZRA: [jokes] And subculture! Like the fetishist sex stuff.

...and Akira...

EZRA: Oh, I love Akira! Oh my gosh, yeah, yeah. Love the original Akira and the animated film. Yeah, big Akira fan.

Do you see parallels between Akira's Tetsuo and your character of Credence and the Obscurial force within him?

EZRA: Tetsuo! Big time! Totally! I think that this archetype repeats itself in different forms. And for me, I tried to approach the Obscurial as unique, because of the way in which that destructive, contained force within a person comes to exist, and what it is, what that entity is. And I think that's the particular bit, even though, obviously, a lot of the similar themes about how you relate to a destructive force within are mirrored by the story of Tetsuo. But, you know, I think when we work in fable, fairy tale, this sort of fiction (and honestly, when we work in any sort of fiction), it's important to acknowledge that the best we can do is create the latest mirror of an ongoing reflective process that takes us back into Greek mythology, it takes us further back than that into the mythologies of ancient Africa, it takes us into the wisdom traditions that exist all over the world, ancient civilizations and first nations and indigenous people who have always had the stories and the truths about magic, about love, about war, whatever you want. And it's all over the world.

Claudia, this movie incorporates mythology from various Asian cultures. How do you think your presence adds to that aspect, and how did you approach your role of Nagini?

CLAUDIA: I mean, of course I did my research and tried to understand the information that was available behind Naga, and Naga women. But I just think...I don't want to be arrogant when I say this, but I think...

EZRA: Oh, please be arrogant!

CLAUDIA: [laughs] ...but, you know, I embody different cultures, and I think that inevitably just comes through in my performance--the way I look, and many different aspects. I do think that part of her being vulnerable, the way she is doing that, there is that sense of Asian culture with the manners and the protectiveness and the maternal kind of feeling that comes through. But also, [director David Yates] did put emphasis on the fact that she's fragile--she's vulnerable, but she's not weak. So those are things that I kept in mind.

EZRA: Definitely not weak! Could swallow you whole! And just, like, chill while she digests you for a couple days, do you know what I mean?

The Crimes of Grindelwald leaves us with the mystery of how, exactly, Nagini eventually becomes Voldemort's snake, which seems like an unexpected turn given how lovely and caring she is in this movie. Will we get to see a lot more of her story in upcoming installments?

CLAUDIA: Of course...I wish I knew more! Really, like, I want to know, does she ever learn Parseltongue? Or does she meet Tom Riddle? Or does she get to go into Hogwarts or anything? Does she see any of that?

EZRA: That's really interesting, dude. Yeah, is she a Parselmouth already?

CLAUDIA: I don't know. That's all a mystery to me, too.

EZRA: I mean, definitely when she's a snake...All snakes can speak Parseltongue, so when you're a snake, you would presume, right?

CLAUDIA: Yeah, maybe she just hasn't discovered that ability...

EZRA: human form! Or maybe she has...

CLAUDIA: ...Or maybe she has secretly.

EZRA: [gasps] Oh, see? It's so exciting! Oh my gosh! [laughs]

CLAUDIA: [laughs] But yeah, just keeping an open mind on that!

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