Spoiler Warning: Mild spoilers ahead for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so if you don't want to read all about Daniel Radcliffe's surprise cameo then I strongly recommend turning around right now!
Only joking! But really, if you wish to keep your first foray into the franchise sacred, hop in your suitcase and stay there. However, for those of you keen to learn how a simple framed picture in #FantasticBeasts could develop into a much larger, intricate plot point in #FantasticBeasts2 then join me after the jump.
This week marks the release of #JKRowling's first public venture into the scriptwriting world, yet while her medium has changed, quite a bit of the content stayed the same. Set in 1920s New York, the #HarryPotter sequel takes place decades before the Boy Who Lived, but it traces many familiar steps: A secret wizarding world, Muggles (now called No-Maj) prejudice and bureaucracy, and of course, a Big Bad. However, it's while we're deep down in Newton Scamander's (#EddieRedmayne) suitcase of beasts that we're introduced to another, far more curious connection that has the potential to become a huge plot point in the prequel's sequel: the Lestrange family.
The scene in question centers around a hushed conversation between Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) — the telepathic (or Legilimens, if you want to get technical) sister of Newt's main love interest, Tina — after she finds a framed picture of a mysterious woman in Newt's office, and promptly establishes that this lady is #LetaLestrange.
Despite requesting that Queenie stop interfering with his thoughts, it's here the beginnings of bigger picture seem to form. This Leta Lestrange is a person he clearly holds dear, but for some reason they've drifted apart. Whether they were just friends or romantically involved is not confirmed, but we know they were close while studying together at Hogwarts before he was expelled, and that something happened to cause them to lose contact.
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She's A Taker, Not A Giver: Who Is Leta Lestrange?
You don't have to be a fully fledged Potterhead to know that the surname Lestrange can only mean bad things, and while not much is known about this particular member of the Lestrange clan — other than Queenie's (pretty amusing) summary quoted above — you can bet your bottom dollar that she'll be a big deal in Fantastic Beasts 2, considering #ZoeKravitz (the actress playing her) is currently one of only three actors confirmed on the sequel's IMDb page.
Throughout J.K.Rowling's books and the Pottermore site, only seven members of the Lestrange family have been mentioned. Mostly we know of Bellatrix — the mentally disturbed queen of torture who was killed by Molly Weasley in at Battle of Hogwarts and — as we discovered thanks to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — had a love child with Voldemort. And we know of Narcissa, Bellatrix's poised sister who married into the Malfoys. We also know that the Lestranges are one of the "Sacred 28" true-blood wizarding families, and that they're as evil as evil can get.
How Leta ties in is a little more complicated, given how little information there is regarding her character. But, by wading into the Lestrange family tree and adding up the numbers, a few potentials can be drawn.
As Leta was born circa 1890 – 1900, it's possible that Rodolphus Lestrange (Minister of Magic between 1835 – 1841) could have been her grandfather, and that two Lestranges listed only by the initials R. and F. could be her parents. Another — known simply as "Lestrange" — was born in the mid '20s (when Fantastic Beasts was set), and could potentially be her nephew or son. This latter member was in Tom Riddle's inner circle while at Hogwarts and went on to become a prominent Death Eater.
Why Did Leta And Newt Part Ways?
Considering Newt's mother was a hippogriff breeder, and he's a Magizoologist former Hufflepuff with experience rehoming house elves, a friendship with a fully-fledged Lestrange seems an unlikely pairing. But could this be the reason we've not heard of Leta until now? Perhaps she was disowned by her mudblood-loathing family for befriending such a kind soul, or maybe she opted to distance herself because of that fact. However, Leta is briefly mentioned again during Fantastic Beasts: Newt says that "people change," indicating that his former friend had, toward the latter stages of their friendship, wandered down a dark path.
Could it be then that, as Grindelwald began to gather followers, Leta began spouting the Dark Wizard's "greater good" rhetoric, falling in line with her family's ideology and disgusting Newt in the process? If that's the case, this opens up a whole teapot of Occamies for the next five movies in the franchise, meaning perhaps we'll finally get an in-depth look into dark magic and its origins.
One thing is for sure though, we're not the only one desperate to know how she fits in to J.K. Rowling's wizarding world:
How do you think Leta Lestrange will fit into the Fantastic Beasts franchise?