According to a new report from the Hollywood Reporter, Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne has officially signed on to portray the lead character in the "Harry Potter" spin-off film "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Redmayne's casting has been rumored for some time but this is Warner Bros.' first time to confirm his involvement.
The film takes place roughly 70 years prior to the events in the main "Harry Potter" series and centers around the adventures of the wizard Newt Scamander. Warner Bros. describes Newt as follows:
Newt Scamander, the Wizarding World's preeminent magizoologist, who in his travels has encountered and documented a myriad of magical creatures, ultimately leading to his penning the Hogwarts School textbook 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'"
According to a report by Cinema Blend, J.K. Rowling describes the film not as a prequel but more of a spin-off. The events take place several decades prior to the main series and there may not be many direct connections to the main franchise other than the occasional appearance of some characters such as a young Dumbledore.
The textbook is for first year students at Hogwarts and Newt's name is even shown in the Marauder's Map in the third "Harry Potter" film, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," although why he was at the school at that time was never explained.
Before Redmayne was officially cast, Cinema Blend reported that former "Doctor Who" Matt Smith and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" actor Nicholas Hoult were also up for the lead role. Smith would eventually land a role in "Terminator Genisys" while Hoult would go on to portray the character Nux in "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is to be directed by David Yates, the director who helmed the last four "Harry Potter" films. Author J.K. Rowling is involved as producer alongside David Heyman and Lionel Wigram. Steve Kloves, who worked on all but one of the "Harry Potter" screenplays, is also sitting as producer for the spin-off.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is currently slated to hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016.