Eddie Redmayne set to star in Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts

Eddie Redmayne

Oscar-winning actor frontrunner to play Newt Scamander, an adventurer who predated Harry by 70 years, in JK Rowling’s debut script Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne has emerged as the frontrunner to play the lead in the new fantasy saga from Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Redmayne, who won the best actor gong in February for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, would play swashbuckling adventurer Newt Scamander. Rowling is writing her debut screenplay for the project, which is set in the Harry Potter universe 70 years before Voldemort’s nemesis and his pals Ron and Hermione attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Scamander is a swashbuckling adventurer and the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a school textbook which Potter uses at Hogwarts in the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling published the “magizoology” compendium in 2001 to raise money for Comic Relief.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Redmayne is keen on reading the finished screenplay before signing on, and Rowling has not yet completed it. Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuaron, of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Gravity, was linked to the new film last year by Nikki Finke.

The Harry Potter series of eight films currently stands as the highest-grossing film saga of all time, with $7.7bn (£4.6bn) in box office receipts. However, it is likely to be overtaken by Marvel’s superhero-based “cinematic universe” when The Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts in cinemas on 23 April (1 May in the US).

Redmayne is expected to be a part of the 2015-16 Oscars conversation once again if his upcoming film The Danish Girl, from The King’s Speech’s Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper, attracts a positive critical response. The English actor plays pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe, born Einar Mogens Wegener, who underwent one of the world’s first gender reassignment surgeries in the early 1930s.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Monday 13th April 2015 14.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010