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November 14, 2016
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Eddie & his Fantastic Beast co-stars are featured in a spread in the December issue of Vogue.

Eddie Redmayne, star of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, offers a glimpse into J. K. Rowling’s delightfully off-kilter universe. Add some sumptuous and finely wrought fashion, and you’ve got magic on your hands.

Aaand—we’re back! Back in the land of wizards and wands, Muggles and magic. Back, in other words, in the gorgeously fertile imagination of J. K. Rowling, the Walt Disney of the twenty-first century and a delightful companion to children and former children alike.

The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with an original screenplay by Rowling, could be described as a Harry Potter prequel, but only in the sense that it takes place long before Harry was born. Set in 1926, it tells the story of Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), a former Hogwarts pupil and now a devoted researcher of magical creatures, or magizoologist, to give him his proper title. He will eventually author the book of Fantastic Beasts, a Hogwarts set-text read by all children who study there—including, in decades to come, a trio called Harry, Hermione, and Ron. But that’s far in the future. When the movie begins, Scamander has traveled to New York because he has heard some fantastic beasts may be living there. American wizards currently dread exposure by a fearsome group of No-Majs (American, it turns out, for Muggles), and have to suppress all signs of magic life.

Unfortunately, Scamander has brought with him a special suitcase full of creatures from his travels who escape, and so he has to team up with a pair of wizarding sisters, Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol), as well as Jacob (Dan Fogler), a friendly No-Maj whose dream is to open a bakery. Together they must catch the beasts while evading detection. As with the Potter films, the movie touches on serious subjects (in this case, prejudice and child abuse) and suggests that we Muggles live unknowingly next to the truly fantastic.

To celebrate the return of Rowling and her magical mind, Vogue has brought the four leads back together in their original costumes on the original sets at the Warner Bros. lot near the decidedly unmagical London commuter town of Watford. But inside the studio we’re on the cobbled streets of 1920s New York, lined with shops and secret passageways.

“This feels very Hopper,” Annie Leibovitz says as she photographs Redmayne and Waterston having a drink in the speakeasy.

“Yeah, Dennis Hopper,” wisecracks Fogler. He is watching the proceedings with the kind of bemusement you’d expect from a Muggle.

Sudol, meanwhile, is staring at the model next to Redmayne, who is wearing a gorgeous if entirely circular Comme des Garçons flower-print dress. “Not many people have a job where they have to stand in a Christmas tree made of roses,” she muses. The model, staying firmly in character, does not reply.

We live in the Muggle world, you see. So while the film is filled with fantastic beasts added by CGI, from the Niffler to the Bowtruckle to the Mooncalf, for the purposes of the shoot they are represented by models in extravagantly over-the-top couture. “It’s amazing seeing the models as the beasts. Real animate creatures!” says Redmayne, laughing.

The 34-year-old Oscar winner had two dreams when he was younger. One was to be in the Harry Potter films. He auditioned for the part of Tom Riddle, a troubled young wizard, “but didn’t even meet the casting director.” With his auburn hair, however, he was convinced there might be a role for him in the redheaded Weasley family, “but the call never came. Still,” he says, from the vantage point of now leading a whole new Rowling franchise (four more Scamander films are planned), “it’s all worked out for the best, hasn’t it?”

Redmayne’s other dream was to be a magician. “I was definitely an aspirational wizard. I used to go to this shop, Davenports, by Charing Cross in London, which sells kits to professional magicians, and I was completely intoxicated. Of course,” he adds, with classic English self-deprecation, “I had pretty much no skill.”

For the cast’s costumes, three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood faced a very particular challenge: “The magic world is supposed to be hidden. So Newt, Tina, and Queenie have to look normal—but there’s something different about them.” Tina’s cloche hat, for example, has tiny little witchlike peaks, and her coat collar is oversized. Waterston has a slightly different take on her wardrobe: “It’s a lot of wool, a lot of velvet, a lot of layers,” she says a little breathlessly in England’s late Indian-summer heat. Meanwhile, Newt’s clothes are almost all too big—“Eddie’s a very physical actor, so he has to be able to move,” says Atwood—but the key part of his wardrobe is his teal tweed coat.

“He can blend in with the black and gray coats but still stand out,” she says. Producer David Heyman and director David Yates were not so sure about what they called “the turquoise coat.” “So thank God for Eddie!” says Atwood. “He just loved it. It helps when someone owns a look. Perhaps his time modeling for Burberry helped.”

Redmayne, meanwhile, has mentally gone back to Davenports magic shop. “I remember there was a coloring book that looked blank, but when you touched it with your wand there were drawings. Then you touched it again and it was blank. . . .” He drifts off, lost in thought, then suddenly comes back to himself. “It just seemed so special to me.”

Magical?

“Yes! Magical, exactly.”

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