With only mere weeks to go until the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, we’re looking at some of the new characters we’re going to meet. Of course, we all know Dumbledore like an old friend, but what of the other fresh faces? And how do they connect to the Harry Potter stories, set several decades in the future? Well, let’s take a look.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated characters in the new film is Leta Lestrange, played by Zoë Kravitz. Leta’s last name caught our attention in the first film, of course: the Lestrange family don’t exactly have a good reputation if you’ve read the Harry Potter books once or twice.
Only mentioned by name in the first film and appearing in a photograph that Newt just-so-happened to carry around with him, the character is set to take a much more central focus in this film – and will be seen working for the British Ministry of Magic. We also know that she’s engaged to Newt’s brother, Theseus (more on him later), which all seems a little awkward – considering the whole Newt-carrying-her-photo thing.
Whether or not Leta is ‘one of the good guys’ or not remains to be seen, but as Harry Potter fans know all too well, her descendants weren’t exactly a cheery bunch. According to J.K. Rowling, the Lestrange family are one of the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ – a directory of ‘pure-blood’ families across the wizarding world. As is common with all pure-blood families, they tend to come with their fair share of Dark wizards and witches, and if anyone dares to try and romantically link with someone non-magical, Muggle-born or even half-blood, it doesn’t tend to go down well.
Perhaps the most famous of the Lestranges with whom we are already familiar is Bellatrix, who first appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bellatrix is actually a member of Sirius Black’s family, another proudly pure-blood bunch, who burn out anyone who betrays that rule from the family tree. Bellatrix is a Lestrange by marriage to Rodolphus Lestrange, a fellow Death Eater who has a Death Eater brother, Rabastan. All three of them were confined to Azkaban for the torture of Neville Longbottom’s parents.
How far back Leta goes in the Lestrange family tree remains to be seen (After all, The Crimes of Grindelwald is set in the 1920s, so she must be a fair few generations back from Rodolphus’s era) but we can shed a bit of light on her lineage with our next character.
Yusuf Kama, played by William Nadylam, is a French-African wizard who claims to be the last male member of his pure-blood family line, so his official character description tells us.
Although we’ve not seen much of this particular character from the trailers, we do know a few things about him – such as how he is on the hunt for another character we know a little better: Credence (Ezra Miller).
And, for the first time, we can reveal that Yusuf has actually taken an Unbreakable Vow to track Credence down – a magical promise meaning that if he doesn’t fulfil his task, he will die. We saw Severus Snape make one of these vows during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, promising to assist Draco Malfoy in Albus Dumbledore’s murder. So, as you can see, Unbreakable Vows are usually reserved for quite serious things, rather than, say, promising to make someone a cup of tea.
Yusuf also has a connection to Leta Lestrange in the new film: he’s actually her half-brother. How? Well, again, according to his biography, Yusuf’s mother was ‘taken’ by an evil wizard called Corvus Lestrange, and ended up having a child with him – Leta. But why the obsession with Credence?
From the first film, Credence is only known to us as an orphan – so is it possible Yusuf needs to track him down due to a family connection?
We’ve seen the traveling wizarding circus, Circus Arcanus, a lot in all three trailers – and it was recently revealed that Claudia Kim’s character, who is the main attraction, is actually Nagini – Lord Voldemort’s snake companion that we run into decades later. At the time The Crimes of Grindelwald is set, however, Nagini is still human… for now. Tragically, the character is a Maledictus, which means she carries a blood curse dooming her to one day turn into an animal permanently. For the time being, in this film, it seems that Nagini is almost like an Animagus, in a way – but unlike Peter Pettigrew, who could return to his human self after living as a rat for 12 years, it looks like Nagini can never go back.
Then we have the ringmaster of the circus: Skender, played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who exploits Nagini’s condition and treats her cruelly. Let’s hope he gets some sort of comeuppance…
Callum Turner plays Theseus Scamander, Newt’s brother, who appears to be a bit of a big deal. Firstly, he’s a celebrated war hero, and now Head of the Auror Office at the Ministry of Magic. As mentioned earlier, this is probably how he met his fiancée, Leta Lestrange, who also works at the Ministry. So, things seem to be going pretty well for Theseus – apart from his strained relationship with his little brother. In the third trailer, for example, Newt seems positively gleeful when Tina ties Theseus up – calling it ‘the best moment of his life’. Theseus’s hot-shot job also seems to get in the way of his relationship with his brother, while Newt usually seems happiest with his magical creatures.
So, can the two brothers work it out, or does Newt have feelings for Leta? Despite Queenie reading Newt’s mind in the first film, we’re still not sure what happened between those two.
With a maniacal Dark wizard – there will always be followers not far behind. While Lord Voldemort had his Death Eaters, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has his own inner circle – and some of them actually have names familiar to us. Carrow (Maja Bloom), Krafft (Simon Meacock), Krall (David Sakurai), Nagel (Claudius Peters) and Vinda Rosier (Poppy Corby-Tuech) are named as some of Grindelwald’s ‘acolytes’ – along with a character we remember from the first film: Abernathy, played by Kevin Guthrie. Oh dear. Abernathy was a supervisor at MACUSA in the first film – this seems like a bit of a radical departure.
Now on to the other last names that are familiar to us: Rosier and Carrow. Both of these family names are part of the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ too – and we know a few Death Eaters who share that moniker.
Firstly, let’s look at the Rosiers. Fun fact – according to occultist literature (we love a bit of light reading!) Rosier is also the name of a fallen angel that became a demon. From the looks of things, there’s a couple of ‘fallen angels’ in this family too.
In the Harry Potter books, one of the key Rosiers we hear about is Evan Rosier: one of Lord Voldemort’s early followers from the first wizarding war, who was killed in the year Lord Voldemort fell. There’s also a significant Rosier from the Black family tree: Druella Rosier. Why so significant? Well, she was the mother of Bellatrix Lestrange – along with her sisters Narcissa Malfoy (née Black) and Andromeda Tonks (neé Black). Pure-blood families do tend to interlink a lot (well, there’s not much choice if you exclude anyone remotely connected to a Muggle) so this really isn’t a surprise.
Where Vinda Rosier comes into play, we will have to wait and see. Perhaps she influences the evil ways of future-Rosiers?
And then we have a new Carrow, played by Maja Bloom. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we meet two rather unpleasant Carrow siblings: Alecto and Amycus, who end up becoming Deputy Headmaster and Headmistress at Hogwarts during Lord Voldemort’s second ascent to power. They were also present during Dumbledore’s death, where he described them as ‘charming’. (We don’t think he was being sincere.)
Indeed, the Carrows made Hogwarts a living hell for a lot of Hogwarts students, but were soon captured at Ravenclaw tower during the Battle of Hogwarts. And now we have a Carrow ancestor in Grindelwald’s inner circle. This doesn’t bode well… But is it wrong to just assume all these family members are as bad as each other? Although the apple doesn’t usually fall far from the tree, the likes of Sirius Black teach us that not all pure-blood families go rotten.
So, there you have it. A lot of wizarding world history to chew over here. What theories have you concluded from the information we know about The Crimes of Grindelwald so far?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is released 16 November.