Eddie Redmayne, who just won the Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, may have a few more magic tricks up his sleeve. Sources say that Redmayne is the favorite to play Newt Scamander in Warner Bros.’ hotly anticipated Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut on the trilogy.
Redmayne recently wrapped Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl and has yet to receive an official offer. Director David Yates is said to be considering a few other actors for the part but Redmayne, according to sources, is the frontrunner.
Set in New York roughly seven decades before Harry Potter’s saga starts, Fantastic Beasts is based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name and follows the adventures of its author, Newt Scamander. Scamander is described as a magiczoologist, which in the Harry Potter realm is a person who studies magical creatures. Besides Scamander, there are four other main roles — two American girls and two American boys — that the studio is currently looking to cast.
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the ‘Harry Potter’ series but an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling explained of the trilogy.
Sources also say that the studio has also considered Nicholas Hoult for the part after working with him on the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road. The first Fantastic Beasts movie is scheduled to arrive Nov. 18, 2016. WB’s Harry Potter series — which began in 2001 and concluded in 2011 — grossed more than $7 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.
The studio has already said Fantastic Beasts would be developed across the studio’s digital, consumer-products and gaming units, including links to Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Potter books. Warner Bros. and Redmayne recently worked together on Jupiter Ascending, in which he played the villain opposite Channing Tatum. Though that film failed to meet expectations at the box office, the British thesp is still in high demand following his Oscar win and Warners is more than happy to stay in business with him.