Eddie Redmayne May Have The Lead in ‘Harry Potter’ Spin-off

Actor Eddie Redmayne stands with a portrait of Richard II on display at Westminster Abbey on November 17, 2011 in London, England.

Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything didn’t just net him an Oscar. If early rumors are true, he may have also gained attention from all the right people, particularly those in charge of casting for J.K. Rowling’s upcoming Harry Potter spin-off. Variety reports that Redmayne is favored for the role of Newt Scamander in the upcoming Warner Bros. adaptation of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The Harry Potter spin-off will be unique in that it will also be J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut. Rowling is set to write the scripts for all three parts of the planned trilogy.

Eddie Redmayne has just finished filming The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper, and may have the added advantage of being free to commit to the Harry Potter spin-off project. Although Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s director David Yates has said that several actors are still being considered for the part, the top choice at this point is still Redmayne.

The trilogy is set roughly seventy years before the events of the Harry Potter books and has nothing at all to do with the characters found in the Harry Potter series of books. Instead, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has more to do with the book of the same name used at Hogwarts and, more precisely, revolves around the book’s author, Newt Scamander.

Rowling herself emphasizes that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not at all associated with the Harry Potter saga, hoping to avoid any confusion among her Potter fans.

“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series but an extension of the wizarding world.”

The role of Scamander, which most likely will fall to Redmayne, is a character described as a magizoologist. For non-Harry Potter fans, a magizoologist studies magical creatures. Scamander will be joined by four other characters, two boys and two girls, none of whom have, as of yet, been cast.

Although not directly related to the Harry Potter books and films, Warner Bros. has already made plans to engage in a similar marketing strategy for Fantastic Beasts that will span digital, consumer-products, and gaming units. A deal is already in place to incorporate Fantastic Beasts into Pottermore.com, which is Rowling’s site dedicated to an online Harry Potter experience.

[Image from Peter Mcdiarmid/Getty Images]