By: Donna Freydkin
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne has played Stephen Hawking and Lili Elbe. The first earned him an Oscar, the second an Oscar nomination.
But nothing compared with stepping into the shoes of Newt Scamander, the pied piper of magical creatures in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," opening Friday. It's based on J. K. Rowling's book and the film marks her screenwriting debut. Anticipation is high, to say the least. "Fantastic Beasts" takes places in America circa 1926, and folks are dealing with an evil wizard (sound familiar?).
Any actor will tell you that wardrobe is key to understanding the person they're playing. And in this case, it's accessories that count: Redmayne got to design Newt's wand.
"They gave you examples to start with. He spent the year out in the field. It's seen a lot of action, Newt's wand, in the wrangling of creatures. It was made of wood. It has a lot nicks in it. The bottom was made of shell. I love it. It's really Newt-y. It's not the most glamorous of wands. But now they're selling it. I love my wand," says Redmayne.
Katherine Waterston, as Tina, a witch working for Magical Congress of the United States of America, also got to create her implement.
"They sent us an email with a password. It's top-secret. They gave us lots of options. It was such a collaborative process. I couldn't decide between two and they made both. It was a great way to get into the magical world," says Waterston.
Of course, when describing the length and girth, "It's hard not to sound sexual when you're talking about wands," she jokes.
Alison Sudol, who plays Tina's free-spirited younger sister, put thought a plenty into her creation. After all, it's what in the wand that counts.
"Trying to think about the soul the person has. What does your magic look like? What is the person's essence? I found it really interesting. Queenie's wand – it just had a really simple pearl handle and it was dark," she says.