Today, we discovered that another character from the Harry Potter adventures will be appearing in the new Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald film – but not quite in the same way.
In the new trailer, released today, it was revealed that the character played by Claudia Kim has a name familiar to us... Nagini.
Harry Potter fans know this name all too well: Lord Voldemort’s deadly snake companion responsible for many terrifying moments.
Before now, Claudia Kim’s character had only been known as ‘the Maledictus’. A ‘Maledictus’ is a carrier of a blood curse which will ultimately destine them to transform permanently into a beast.
It transpires that Nagini the snake, from Harry Potter, used to be a woman with a terrible curse. And seemingly, based on her friendship with Credence as seen in the trailer, not just the evil character who did Lord Voldemort’s bidding. So, what happened?
While we ponder on Nagini’s past, here’s a reminder of everything we know about Nagini from the Harry Potter books – and her connection to Lord Voldemort.
‘I think he is perhaps as fond of her as he can be of anything…’
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Although we met Lord Voldemort in Philosopher’s Stone, Nagini the snake did not appear until Goblet of Fire. In the book, Nagini was first introduced in The Riddle House, Goblet of Fire’s opening chapter, where she proceeded to eat the body of the poor, local Muggle, Frank Bryce. Lovely. Nagini seemed integral to Lord Voldemort’s survival before he could be restored to his body, and we learnt, quite grotesquely, that Voldemort even tasked Wormtail to ‘milk’ Nagini so he could live off her venom to keep his strength up. BFFs forever. (Sorry.)
So Nagini and Voldemort were definitely close. As a Parselmouth, (i.e. able to talk to snakes) Voldemort could communicate with her, and the pair often sent each other messages, even suggesting a telepathic connection at times. Lord Voldemort could also possess Nagini, like he did on the night where Arthur Weasley was attacked in Order of the Phoenix. Because of Harry’s unwanted mental link with Voldemort, this is why Harry suffered horrendous visions from the snake’s point of view. Voldemort and Nagini seemed interlinked in ways beyond imagination – and as Albus Dumbledore observed to Harry, ‘he certainly likes to keep her close and he seems to have an unusual amount of control over her, even for a Parselmouth.’
Lord Voldemort usually sent or possessed Nagini to do his bidding, and many key characters suffered by her. As mentioned, the snake very nearly killed Arthur Weasley, who had to spend Christmas at St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, as Nagini’s venom kept his wounds from healing. She was certainly no ordinary snake.
While Arthur lived to tell the tale, others were not so lucky. Lord Voldemort callously fed Muggle Studies teacher Charity Burbage to Nagini after performing the Killing Curse. Sometimes Voldemort simply let Nagini do the dirty deed herself. The most famous example of this is Severus Snape. Rather than murdering Snape himself, Lord Voldemort unleashed Nagini on him, creating a truly gruesome death sentence. Quite telling that Lord Voldemort chose to not kill Snape personally...
The Harry Potter stories have many moments of horror, and the later books certainly made us long for the innocent days of Ron vomiting up slugs. One particularly persistent memory is of Harry and Hermione going to visit Bathilda Bagshot, only to discover she’s been dead for quite some time, and Nagini has been hiding in her corpse, waiting for them. Er, yeah. We’ve never quite been able to un-remember that.
‘No,’ he said. ‘She was the snake ... or the snake was her ... all along.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Before we met Nagini, snakes were already a prominent theme in Harry Potter. In fact, one of the first times we saw Harry exhibit his magic, he spoke to one – albeit a friendly one with dreams of visiting Brazil. As Slytherin’s house animal, snakes were consistently woven throughout the books – often depicting a sign of something sinister. After all, the great Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets was a huge snake, bred with Salazar Slytherin’s intent to murder Muggle-borns. The Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort’s ‘sign’, was a skull with a snake tongue. Even Voldemort’s ancestors, the Gaunts, had a snake nailed to their door.
‘There will come a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake.’
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Nagini was not only the last Horcrux to be killed, but also the last Horcrux to be created. In an interview, J.K. Rowling revealed that it was the murder of Bertha Jorkins that made Nagini a Horcrux. After Voldemort discovered his Horcruxes were in danger, Nagini was magically protected, described as being encased in a ‘starry, translucent sphere’. Dumbledore had already prophesied to Snape that if Voldemort began getting more protective of Nagini, it would finally be time to tell Harry that he has to die at the hands of Voldemort. It was only after Harry ‘died’, that Lord Voldemort made the fatal mistake of releasing Nagini from her protection, not realising Harry would return, having already tasked Neville with destroying the final piece of Voldemort’s soul.
With all that said, how fascinating that Nagini will be introduced to us, in an entirely different form, in the new Fantastic Beasts film – where we’re set to learn about her human incarnation – and what it truly means to be a ‘Maledictus’.