Multi-awarded British actor Eddie Redmayne is said to be the top candidate to play the role of Newton Artemis Fido Scamander, the lead character in Warner Bros' upcoming trilogy of Harry Potter spinoffs Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Variety cites an individual familiar with the studio's thinking who says that Redmayne, who just bagged an Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA award for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, is in the running to star in J.K. Rowling's screenplay debut.
Another actor also reportedly being eyed by Warner Bros. is Nicholas Hoult, who plays Nux in George Miller's upcoming Mad Max: Road Fury. Sources say Warner Bros. executives are impressed with Hoult's performance that, if the role of Newt Scamander is handed to Redmayne, Hoult will still get another big-box project from the studio.
Redmayne, however, still has not received an offer, mostly because Warner Bros. has yet to make one. The script, which will be written by Rowling herself, is still in the works, and sources cited by the Hollywood Reporter say Redmayne wants to read the script before committing to anything. He is also said to be the studio's top choice for Scamander.
Other characters in the movie include two American girls and two American boys, all four of which are also open for casting.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is based on a textbook that is required reading at Rowling's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, although it's possible Hermione Granger is the only person to have read it.
The fictional book, which is authored by a magic zoologist named Scamander, tells of his adventures with magical animals and other creatures after he was commissioned by the Ministry of Magic to write such a book, some 70 years before the time of The Boy Who Lived and his friends.
"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 explains. "The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the 'Harry Potter' books or seen the films, but Newt's story will start in New York 70 years before Harry's get underway."
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be directed by David Yates, who also directed the last four of the eight Harry Potter films. Variety says the first of the three films is expected for release on Nov. 18, 2016.
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