'Harry Potter' producer David Heyman talks about upcoming 'Fantastic Beasts' spinoff

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Image Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Three weeks ago, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling conjured an Internet frenzy when she and Warner Bros. announced that a new adaptation of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a popular supplement to her Potter series was in the works. The announcement revealed that the film will be set in the same wizarding world as Harry Potter — but follow magizoologist Newt Scamander, a professor of magical creatures, and take place 70 years before Harry’s journey began.

EW caught up with David Heyman, who produced all eight of the original Harry Potter films, on the red carpet of his latest spectacle, Gravity (which reunited him with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuaron), and asked him to dish about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — or “Fantastic Beasts” as he called it for short.

Heyman, who confirmed that he will be producing the film, said that Rowling hasn’t turned in a finished script just yet, but that “Jo is at work” and tremendously excited about the project. “She’s not doing it for any other reason other than she loves the world and she had a story that she wanted to tell,” he said.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” he continued. “She doesn’t have to go back to this world, but something pulled her back. This is not Harry Potter. This is not Harry, Ron, and Hermione. This is a separate story within a universe related to the Potter universe.”

When asked about which creatures we might see in the film — you better believe I brought up quintapeds and lethifolds — Heyman demured. “We follow Newt on his adventures,” he said, grinning.

The producer said Rowling has no shortage of plot ideas for Fantastic Beasts because she knows Newt Scamander’s history so thoroughly — after all, she created him. “The fact that she’s going to this world means there are stories to tell,” he said. “When I was doing the Harry Potters, what was clear to me is that Jo’s knowledge of this world is infinite. What you read in the books was just the surface of her knowledge. She had notebook upon notebook of stuff. I would call her and say, ‘What’s the sixth use of dragon’s blood?’ and she’d have it at her fingertips.”

“In the fifth film, I think it was, we had the Black family tree,” he recalled. “I called her, and literally 20 minutes later I receive this family tree, via fax in those days, with a hundred names and about six generations with birthdays, death dates, marriages, all figured out. She knew it.”

So let’s hope she’s weaving all that knowledge into another truly magical tale — or even (dare we dream?) a whole series of them.

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