1. Who is your favorite character and why?
Tina Goldstein. Not only do we both enjoy hot dogs, I appreciate how she’s very devoted to her job and getting things right–very much like a perfectionist writer! Her tenacity and persistence, even when ostracized by the leaders of MACUSA, is admirable. She also has a nice arc in the story, learning that a little bit of chaos in your life–aka Newt–can bring great joy.
I should add I liked Dan Fogler’s portrayal of Jacob Kowalski–he really pulled it off to give us a No-Maj’s view of the wizarding world.
2. If you could have one creature from “Fantastic Beasts”, what would it be and why?
The Demiguise. I love the creature’s shaggy, wise old man design, and its powers. Who wouldn’t want to be able to anticipate the future or turn invisible? Plus, he really cares for his Occamy!
I also have a soft spot for the Niffler. The animators did such a wonderful job with him. I’m chuckling right now thinking of how the Niffler posed in the jewelry store window!
3. What to you, is most fascinating detail found in your books but not the film?
Very interesting question! There may have been little background bits and bobs that were trimmed from the film for length that remained in the books, but perhaps the fans are better at finding those than me. There is some artwork that was produced to lend authenticity to the film that you’d probably never see unless you freeze a frame. The books gives you an insiders’ look at some of these incredible logos, labels, and typescripts that make the world of Fantastic Beasts a real place.
Most of all, what I was trying to achieve with the Character Guide and Magical Movie Handbook was create the most complete compilation of everything you experience in the film, yet leaving room for one’s imagination and the next films to fill-in the gaps.
4. How did you go about creating the character and beasts profiles?
I spent a good deal of time taking notes at Warner Brothers, while looking at art, images, Rowling’s screenplay, and other story material. As a screenwriter myself, I was impressed at how Rowling revealed her world cinematically on the page without surrendering her trademark style. I searched for any gems in dialogue or description that showed background material, such as Newt’s training of Ukrainian Ironbellies during the Great War, to flesh out individual character and beast’s profiles. Clothing, costuming, physiology (for the beasts) and settings also provided great insight. For example, Jacob’s tenement apartment reveals his place in society in the 1920s. By the end I felt like I knew these characters and beasts very, very well.
I must say I found immense pleasure putting words to page in describing these fantastic characters and beasts, polishing the prose to be fresh and fun, while also adding that dash of whimsy and topsy-turvydom that makes the film stand out.
5. Did you work with J.K. Rowling? If so, what was that like?
Only through mutual writerly communion of reading her wonderful words on the screenplay and translating them into these books. Scholastic and Warner Brothers worked extra hard to keep everything in these tomes consistent. It was such an amazing honor and privilege to be granted to write in Rowling’s world. I couldn’t be happier than writing about magicians in 1920’s New York, since it combines my love for historical period and Dickensian fantasy.
6. If you had to sum “Fantastic Beasts” into three words, which words would you choose?
Save the Beasts!