UPDATED, 5 PM: Eddie Redmayne has been set to play Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them for Warner Bros. The studio made the announcement late Monday and said the film is slated for worldwide release in 3D and Imax on November 18, 2016. The film marks author J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut. David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter films and will direct and David Heyman, producer of all eight of the blockbuster kid-wizard features, will produce. Redmayne won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the 2014 Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory Of Everything. He next stars in Tom Hooper’s true-life drama The Danish Girl, due out this November.
PREVIOUSLY May 12, 12:17 PM: It’s not a secret that Oscar-winning The Theory Of Everything star Eddie Redmayne was Warner Bros’ first choice to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, the prequel to Harry Potter. Now that author J.K. Rowling has progressed through her first screenplay, I’m hearing that a formal offer has come from Warner Bros and negotiations have begun for Redmayne. The movie’s title refers to a book written by Scamander, a textbook used by Harry Potter and his pals when they attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The new film series takes place 70 years before the Harry Potter films. That franchise was hugely important to Warner Bros, which is eager to get it back. Having Redmayne anchor the new series, with frequent Potter helmer David Yates directing and David Heyman again producing, sounds too promising to not work out. Redmayne should be in the Oscar talk again later this year when he plays pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe in the Tom Hooper-directed The Danish Girl, which takes place in the 1930s. Redmayne’s repped by CAA and attorney Karl Austen.