It must be amazing to work with J. K. Rowling. In the Special Features of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the cast talk about their experience meeting the world-famous author. It seems she has something of a bad habit; she'll get excited talking to the actors, and start saying, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but here's where this character arc leads..."
Amusingly enough, there's actually a moment in the Special Features where you get a sense of that. Discussing the future of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Rowling drops a tantalizing hint that feels more like a spoiler than anything else. After all, we all know how Rowling works; she plans out every aspect of her characters' lives, and given this world exists as the backstory to her much-loved #HarryPotter franchise, there's no way Newt's journey isn't plotted out!
So be warned — possible spoilers follow!
First, Newt's Backstory
After the signing of the International Statute of Secrecy, the wizarding world launched a campaign to ensure the Muggle / No-Maj community didn't get even a hint of magic. Unfortunately, this meant interfering with the natural habitats of magical creatures. In fact, it's implied that by the 1920s, many magical creatures may even have been on the brink of extinction, with their breeding severely restricted so Muggles don't catch a glimpse of them.
This is the world in which Newt Scamander operates. He's a lone voice calling out for a different way, calling for wizards to value magical creatures and protect them. He reminds me a little of John Muir, the activist who's often described as the "patron saint of American environmental activity." Where Theodore Roosevelt focused on the efficient use of natural resources as part of conservation, Muir — who toured the Yosemite Valley with Roosevelt — valued nature for its own sake. Newt's whole attitude seems to be subtly inspired by Muir.
So Newt Scamander begins work on a book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, hoping to encourage others to fall in love with magical creatures too. But it seems likely his activism will lead him in a very familiar direction...
Welcome Back to Hogwarts, Newt Scamander!
The Special Features on Fantastic Beasts are brilliant, and include strong character-focused videos packed with interviews. Reflecting on Newt Scamander, there's a moment where J. K. Rowling relaxes perhaps a little too much. You can see her deciding whether to say something, and finally giving up and just tossing it out there. Referring to Newt's self-proclaimed title of Magizoologist, Rowling notes:
"He was probably the person who introduced that subject at Hogwarts."
Now, let's be clear; with J. K. Rowling, you can discount the word "probably." She's already got Newt's journey planned out; that's just how she works as a writer. So it seems Rowling has given us a hint at just how influential Newt Scamander will become. The fact that his book was on Harry's Hogwarts curriculum already suggested it would be a huge success, and it seems this success with lead to him launching Care of Magical Creatures at Hogwarts!
The Irony of Newt's Future
Of course, there's a beautiful irony to this future twist. Newt's own time as a student at Hogwarts was hardly an uncontroversial one — he wound up in serious trouble for taking a magical creature under his wing.
The creature in question was a Jarvey, a sort of overgrown ferret with bad manners (it's capable of human speech, and launches streams of insults). It was claimed the Jarvey posed a threat to human life, which seems unlikely; Albus Dumbledore spoke in Newt's defence, and Newt's proposed expulsion was never enforced.
Now, it seems, Newt will return to Hogwarts as something of a celebrity — the hero of New York, an author whose book challenges the Wizarding community. I love J. K. Rowling's sense of irony; the man who was almost expelled becomes a teacher.
An Amusing Nod in the 'Harry Potter' Films
Of course, this isn't the first time we've had a hint that Newt Scamander will be tied somehow to Hogwarts. In fact, he had a subtle cameo in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — his name appears on the Marauder's Map!
As my fellow Creator Trevor Norkey notes:
"At first glance, one would think that this is just a happy little Easter Egg. But, knowing J.K. Rowling, it is probably a lot more."
Rowling's latest quote just cements this; Newt Scamander will become closely associated with Hogwarts. It's worth noting Prisoner of Azkaban was the time when Albus Dumbledore had the most trouble with the Care of Magical Creatures subject; Hagrid became a teacher, and soon his Hippogriff, Buckbeak, was in danger of execution. Is it possible that Dumbledore consulted Newt back then? Whatever the truth may be, J. K. Rowling has already revealed the future of the Scamander family — Newt's grandson, Rolf, will marry none other than Luna Lovegood! It's one of those beautiful details that ties Rowling's world together in one beautiful narrative bundle.
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We may never discover the truth behind Newt's Prisoner of Azkaban appearance, but as always, it's clear that J. K. Rowling has her character arcs planned out. I think we can safely say that Newt Scamander's book will challenge the Wizarding World to accept magical creatures. From there, he'll remain closely tied to Hogwarts — right up into the days of Harry Potter!
Do you think Newt will wind up working at Hogwarts?
(Source: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Special Features; The Leaky Cauldron: Poll Image Credit: Warner Bros.)