JK Rowling drew upon 'populism politics' for Fantastic Beasts movie


Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that current politics were firmly on her mind as she wrote the script for the franchise's latest film, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

Speaking at the film's European premiere in London's Leicester Square on Tuesday, she told the Press Association: "The story was conceived three-and-a-half years ago and at that time I was definitely drawing on what I found was the rise of populism politics and a desire to smash the status quo.

"Certainly those themes remain very strong today as we open."

Written as a prequel to the much-loved series about the boy wizard, the story is set in 1920s New York as British "magizoologist" Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, arrives with a case full of magical creatures.

But he has entered a world where the magical authorities are determined to keep witches and wizards separate from ordinary "No-Maj" society.

Rowling said: "When Newt comes in, he messes up pretty badly."

Oscar-winning actor Redmayne, 34, told the Press Association: "One of the amazing things about Jo (Rowling) is that she creates things that are not only entertaining and have humour and warmth, but she reflects a mirror on the state of the world.

"Even though she wrote this film a couple of years ago, all those things about segregation, repression and the fear of the other are so pertinent. Hopefully fans will find many layers in the film."

Born and bred New Yorker Dan Fogler plays Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj who is faced with the wizarding world when he finds himself embroiled in Newt's story.

He described London as a "cleaner" version of his home town and added: "I think that if you have the right intention, you can manifest some light in this world and I think the message that JK has is really going to help a lot of people escape and give them some wisdom to deal with these strange times we are facing."

David Yates, who directed the film and the four final Harry Potter instalments, said: "I think those (political) ideas within the movie are timeless. They come again throughout history - the notion of people being intolerant or bigoted or not really understanding other communities and trying to persecute them has existed forever.

"Sometimes it goes away, but our concerns as storytellers is to remind people that sometimes those things come back and to be vigilant and stand up against that kind of thing."

The film marks Rowling's debut as a screenwriter and she last month revealed that there would be a further four Fantastic Beasts sequels.

The next one in the series will include an introduction to the much-loved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and will star Johnny Depp in the role of the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald.

"You don't need to have seen or read Harry Potter to totally get this movie as it is a different story," Rowling said.

"Having said that, for the hardcore fans, there's definitely some interesting stuff coming."

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them will officially launch in UK cinemas on Friday.