Eddie Redmayne: ‘I Got Complete Stage Fright’ Playing Newt Scamander in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Eddie Redmayne may have won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in 2014’s The Theory of Everything, but playing magizoologist Newt Scamander in J.K. Rowling’s prequel to the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was a bit of a challenge for the actor.

Eddie Redmayne attends the Audi Polo Challenge 2015 at Cambridge County Polo Club on July 3, 2015 in Cambridge, England. David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Audi

“I picked up the wand, and then I got complete stage fright! I was like, ‘Wait a second, I’ve always thought that I’d be a natural with a wand, but I’m completely not!’” the 34-year-old recalls to Us Weekly of his first time handling the magical object.

On top of the tricky wrist movements required of wizards, Redmayne found himself dealing with some peculiar on-set mishaps along with his similarly lauded costars: “Colin Farrell and I compared notes for wizarding injuries. You got things like wand wrist and wizarding elbow from too much ferocious use!”

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and Katherine Waterston as Tina Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.

As for meeting author J.K. Rowling, the longtime Potter fan wasn’t immune from becoming starstruck. “I was really excited to meet her, but also had so many questions about Newt, that I fear I leapt in and we basically talked about character for about an hour,” he reveals to Us. “It was only several months later when she came back to set that we met each other as human beings, I think!” 

Pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now, to find out how Redmayne’s wife, Hannah Bagshawe, helped the star with his role and learn more secrets from the Fantastic Beasts set. More behind-the-scenes surprises from the film are available in Us Weekly’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them special publication, on newsstands now and at bn.com/usfantasticbeasts.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, November 18.

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