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The Untold Truth Of Newt Scamander From Fantastic Beasts

Before there was Harry, there was Newt. Well, at least in the "Wizarding World" timeline, that is. Newt Scamander, portrayed by actor Eddie Redmayne, is the main character of the "Fantastic Beasts" movies, which serve as prequels to the "Harry Potter" stories, taking place within the same universe.

Three movies so far have showcased Newt and some of his many encounters with magical creatures, but Newt's presence within the lore of the Potterverse, so to speak, goes back long before the first "Fantastic Beasts" film hit theaters in 2016. His life's journey — his career, his descendants, his unexpected connections to other "Potter" characters — includes more than just what's shown in the movies.

Have your wand at the ready and make sure your briefcase is always close by, because it's time for the untold truth of Newt Scamander from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Spoilers ahead for all things "Fantastic Beasts" and "Harry Potter," including tidbits officially revealed beyond the films.

Newt is an unexpected choice for a franchise hero

Newt Scamander's path to protagonist is untraditional to say the least. Warner Bros. completed their eight-film "Harry Potter" saga in 2011. Despite there being no more "Harry Potter" novels to adapt to the big screen, the studio wanted to continue making movies that took place within the "Wizarding World." Collaborating with "Potter" author J.K. Rowling in expanding the franchise, the sky was the limit. Where to begin?

In the book version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Rowling lists the required books Harry must purchase for his first year at Hogwarts. Among the reading is a book called "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" by Newt Scamander. That's about it for details — it can be assumed Harry buys the book and references it in his studies.

In 2001, Rowling actually published that fictional textbook, ghostwriting the entire publication as Newt Scamander as if he were a real person who actually compiled the encyclopedia of magical creatures. This became the foundation for Warner Bros. and Rowling as they sought to expand the Wizarding World. The "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" film series, which was announced to be in development in 2013 (per Deadline), would center on Newt Scamander. It would take place decades before Harry attended Hogwarts as Newt develops the manuscript for his book.

Newt is a bestselling author

Newt's handbook "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was a labor of love. In the book's introduction, Scamander states that the volume "represents the fruit of many years' travel and research." He goes on to describe the book's genesis. Augustus Worme of the publisher Obscurus Books enlisted Scamander to write the book in 1918. Over the course of the next decade, Newt spent "holidays traveling the globe in search of new magical species." The journey took him to five continents, studying and learning from the creatures he encountered. In the movie "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," we learn that Newt's book was finally published in early 1927, in between the events of the first and second films.

According to Albus Dumbledore in his endorsement for a later edition of the book, a copy of it "resides in almost every wizarding household in the country." A version was even made available to Muggle readers, under the guise of being a work of fiction.

The need for Newt's book is made apparent in the first "Fantastic Beasts" film as he talks with American witch Tina Goldstein. In telling Tina he's working on a manuscript for a book about magical creatures, she echoes the thinking of most wizardkind at the time in asking, "Like an extermination guide?" Newt explains the book is quite the contrary. Rather, his vision is to share "why we should be protecting them instead of killing them." 

Newt's briefcase is not what it seems

As Newt travels the globe in search of magical creatures, unsuspecting bystanders might assume he packs lightly for his trips, carrying only a briefcase. But the case is more than meets the eye. Newt basically carries with him a portable sanctuary for any and every kind of magical creature you can imagine.

As Newt descends into his suitcase, the laws of physics cease to exist, or at least exist in a magical state that doesn't make much sense to us Muggles. Inside is a grand haven, divided into different areas to mimic the natural habitats of the creatures Newt has in his possession — some of them as personal pets, others as temporary tenants en route to safety. It's all more than just a hobby — Newt shares with his friend Jacob that his mission is to rescue, nurture, and protect magical creatures, and educate wizards and witches about how to do the same.

Of course, caring for the creatures is something of a full-time job in and of itself. Newt's protection of the animals is so thorough that he requires an assistant, Bunty, to help him manage the various tasks involved in keeping the animals fed, clean, and safe.

Eddie Redmayne auditioned for another Potter character first

Years before he landed the part of Newt Scamander, actor Eddie Redmayne auditioned for the role of Tom Riddle — aka the young Lord Voldemort. "I properly failed and didn't get a call back," Redmayne told Empire in 2016. "Over the years I always hoped I might be cast as a member of the Weasley family, but unfortunately not." While Tom Riddle appears as his teenage self in multiple "Harry Potter" films, Redmayne specified that he tried out for the role while he was still at university, which would line with the release of 2002's "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

Redmayne elaborated on his doomed audition to Jimmy Fallon in 2018. "You remember that scene in 'La La Land' where Emma Stone is singing and the casting director's on the phone after about three and a half sentences?" the actor explained. "That was basically my experience. I didn't even get about three lines out." Imagine Eddie Redmayne torturing young Harry and Ginny with the basilisk!

Newt didn't fit in at school

Newt's love for magical creatures goes back to childhood, when, according to his book, he passed the time by dismembering Horklumps as early as age seven. Like many wizards and witches residing in Britain, Newt attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in his youth. During a flashback in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," we see Newt sorted into Hufflepuff, the Hogwarts house where students are known for their loyalty. Continuing his childhood obsession, Newt would go on to become fascinated with the many magical creatures inside Hogwarts and throughout its grounds. He even stayed at Hogwarts over holiday breaks to tend to some of them.

Newt didn't fit in with most students, but found friendship (and maybe even more than friendship) with classmate Leta Lestrange, a Slytherin. In adulthood, Leta (Zoë Kravitz) becomes engaged to Newt's brother, Theseus. Before they can marry, Leta dies at the hand of dark wizard Grindelwald, though descendants of her family will one day include Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Voldemort's closest Death Eaters. Of Newt, Leta says he never met a monster he couldn't love, speaking to the intimate nature of their relationship, the qualities she sees in Newt, and the darker parts of herself she knows Newt could see.

Newt was almost expelled from Hogwarts

One thing we know about Newt's time at Hogwarts is that he was nearly expelled. The entire incident is never fully explained, but keen-eyed fans can piece together the story from quick bits of dialogue in the films and various official franchise companion books. In the first "Fantastic Beasts" movie, Grindelwald (disguised as Mr. Graves) says Newt was "thrown out of Hogwarts for endangering human life with a beast." In his defense, Scamander insists, "That was an accident."

The behind-the-scenes book "The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" includes an in-universe document detailing the expulsion, as reported by CBR. The document describes Newt's "proposed expulsion" for "illegal possession" of a Jarvey, a creature described by Scamander himself in his textbook as an "overgrown ferret" that can talk. The same document notes, however, that the expulsion never went through: "Albus Dumbledore defended Newt, resulting in his name being cleared."

According to the "Magical Movie Handbook" for the first "Fantastic Beasts" film, Leta Lestrange was involved in the incident. The book says that she "went too far with an experiment and ended up endangering a fellow student's life. Instead of allowing his good friend to get expelled, Newt took the blame for Leta and was expelled in her place." These two descriptions might seem like they don't add up, but since the story is never really explained in the movies, we have to assume they somehow go hand in hand.

Eddie Redmayne wonders if Newt is written to embarrass him

Newt Scamander takes his job very seriously, and stops at nothing to ensure that each magical creature he cares for is treated fairly and authentically to their unique species. Sometimes this means performing movements or making noises that seem rather ridiculous to humans, but are completely natural for the magical creature in question. Across the three "Fantastic Beasts" films, we see Newt do some funny things in the name of caring for magical creatures.

As Redmayne has promoted each of the three movies, he's traditionally stopped by "The Tonight Show" to chat with Jimmy Fallon. Every visit, Redmayne taught Fallon one of Newt's moves featured in each successive film. In 2016, the pair performed a mating dance that Newt uses to sway a creature known as an Erumpant back into his case. In 2018, Redmayne showed Fallon the art of tracking a creature by listening with a wand and promptly licking the floor. In 2022, they demonstrated how to calm a lobster-like creature called a Manticore by swiveling one's pelvis while walking

By the third go-around, Redmayne confided to Fallon, "I feel like now in each of these movies, they literally write something to humiliate me. When I read it, I go, 'That's horrendous, but great because I get to teach it to Jimmy.'"

Newt worked with Ukrainian dragons in World War I

A quick line of dialogue from the first "Fantastic Beasts" film suggests a surprising chapter in Newt's life. As he and Muggle Jacob Kawolski get to know each other in New York in 1926, Jacob asks Newt if he fought in World War I, which at the time would have been in recent memory. Newt replies that he worked with Ukrainian dragons on the eastern front. This quick exchange is the beginning and the end of that conversation, but it invites follow-up questions.

If World War I happened more or less for wizards as it did for Muggles, are the same issues at the center of the conflict? Do the same countries align with each other? How do the actions of Muggles during the war influence the actions or outcomes of the wizards involved, or vice versa? These inquiries are never addressed. As specialized as knowledge of magical creatures seems to be within the wizarding community, Newt has to be one of few people who could have provided the kind of help required in working with dragons. Also, a war fought with dragons? Again, so many follow-up questions. 

Nonetheless, a man at the Magical Congress of the United States of America references Newt's brother, Theseus, as a "war hero," but doesn't know who Newt is. This implies that however Newt helped, it wasn't as well-known as whatever his brother did.

Newt was the first wizard to ever catch Grindelwald

As we see in the first "Fantastic Beasts" movie, Newt gets more than he bargained for when he visits the United States in 1926. Arriving in New York City on the way to Arizona with the goal of setting a Thunderbird free in its natural habitat, Newt gets caught up in an incident with the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) and winds up thwarting the nefarious plan of a man named Mr. Graves. Graves then reveals himself to be the world's most dangerous wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. In his book, Newt confirms he was the first wizard to ever achieve this feat. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the next film, Grindelwald escapes and remains elusive for the remainder of the next two movies.

MACUSA acknowledges Newt has done them a great service, but they also must face facts. In the events leading up to Grindelwald's capture, which involved Newt's magical creatures breaking loose from his briefcase, nearly all of New York City was exposed to magic. This is a serious offense, and even though Newt is able to wipe the memory of every Muggle in the city, he is still banned from traveling internationally thereafter.

Newt disobeys his travel ban to continue to pursue Grindelwald with a team assembled by Albus Dumbledore. While still unsuccessful at capturing Grindelwald — at least in the movies released so far — they do prevent the villain from becoming the elected leader of the wizarding world.

Newt marries Tina Goldstein

While the "Fantastic Beasts" movie series only covers a tiny glimpse of Newt's life around the late 1920s, there's actually a lot more to discover about the rest of Newt's journey, including his marriage to Tina Goldstein. Newt and Tina have a perpetual will-they/won't-they relationship going on over the course of the three films, ending on a promising note with their reconciliation at the conclusion of "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." Even if there are other complications later on, we can only assume this rekindling eventually leads to love because the "About the Author" section of Newt's book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" names Tina as his wife.

Newt has quite a full life indeed, with his book also mentioning he was born in 1897. Given that the book was re-published in 2017 (both within the fictional canon of the Wizarding World and in reality) with new, present-day notes written at that time by Scamander, we can deduce Newt lives to be at least 121. With a career as dangerous as his, it's gratifying to know he's lived to tell many tales of close calls with magical creatures over the decades. According to a Daily Prophet newspaper clipping that was used as a movie prop in and is now on display at The Making of Harry Potter in London, the average lifespan of a wizard is 137 ¾ years, so we can assume Newt is quite healthy.

Newt is related to Luna Lovegood

There are many fascinating family trees within the Wizarding World. Newt's friend Leta Lestrange is distantly related to Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, who is cousin of Sirius Black, who himself is (though not related by blood) godfather to Harry Potter. The "Fantastic Beasts" movies take place just over 60 years prior to the "Harry Potter" series. Many unexpected connections bring together different characters from the universe's two eras so far, including a favorite Ravenclaw student and a famous magical creatures author.

In a 2007 webchat, J.K. Rowling revealed that Luna Lovegood marries Rolf Scamander, Newt's grandson. Rolf is not a character who's appeared in any Wizarding World story, merely existing within the extended lore confirmed to be canon by the series' creator. Still, even if Luna and Newt never meet on screen or in the pages of any book, they'd probably find each other delightfully quirky and glad to be part of the same family. Since "Harry Potter" takes place in the '90s and Newt's book tells us that he has remained alive through at least 2017 as he's overseen reprintings, surely he and Luna have met. That's quite a fun interaction to imagine. Perhaps they would discuss whether Nargles actually exist.

Rita Skeeter writes a biography about Newt

We first meet writer Rita Skeeter in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" when she covers events of Hogwarts' Triwizard Tournament for the Daily Prophet newspaper. Rita has a way of embellishing the truth, satisfying her readers' hunger for gossip to the detriment of those she commits libel about. During the events of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in the '90s, Rita writes a biography about the recently deceased Albus Dumbledore. As Newt Scamander shares in the 2017 foreword to his book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," decades later Rita would write a biography about another wizard: him.

Rita's book is titled "Man or Monster? The Truth About Newt Scamander." In it, Skeeter publishes lies that poor Newt must defend in his old age, among them that he was never a Magizoologist but rather a spy, and that he had an affair with MACUSA President Seraphina Piquery. Scamander calls these claims "absurd," writing, "It would take months to contradict every other wild assertion in Miss Skeeter's book." Seeing as her Dumbledore biography is filled with lies, we can only imagine what else Skeeter gets wrong in her book about Newt and the lengths he must go to protect his reputation. When will these publishers stop giving Skeeter the spotlight?

Newt is honored for his activism

Across his career, Newt's work leads to actual legislation to keep creatures safe. The "About the Author" section of his book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" shares some of these achievements, including the creation of the Werewolf Registrar in 1947 and the Ban on Experimental Breeding in 1965. Newt was recognized for these and other contributions to society with the Order of Merlin, Second Class, in 1979. Given the widespread acclaim of Newt's book within the wizarding community, its continued success across multiple generations of wizards and witches, and its ongoing inclusion in Hogwarts' required reading, Newt has undoubtedly made an insurmountable impact through the countless readers who have made the world a better place for magical creatures to live because they read his book.

In addition to his advocacy for creatures, Newt is also empathetic to humans of all kind, including Muggles. In an era when relations with Muggles are controversial, particularly in the United States, Newt is welcoming to non-magical people and believes wizards should be able to marry them if they so choose. He even befriends a Muggle, Jacob Kawolski, to the extent of being Jacob's best man at his wedding.

Does Newt's book reveal that J.K. Rowling exists in the Wizarding World?

The nuances of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" can get confusing, and it can be tricky to know where fiction ends and reality begins. There was a fake book, which was later published as a real book by a real person ghostwriting as a fake person, which became a movie, and in the movie, a character writes the book. Simple!

All proceeds from the purchase of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" — as in, the real book that you, a real person, can actually buy in the real world — benefit two charities. As described in the book, Comic Relief invests in "children and young people around the world, preparing them to be ready for the future." Lumos seeks to "transform systems of care globally so that all children have the families they need and the futures they deserve."

In explaining this to readers, an unexpected namedrop suggests something wild. Albus Dumbledore — a fictional character — writes an endorsement for "Fantastic Beasts" that appears on the back of the book. In his quote and still within his words, Dumbledore specifically says "J.K. Rowling's international charity Lumos." Does that mean in the fictional world of "Harry Potter," J.K. Rowling exists? Sure, it's probably there so the reader clearly understands where their money is going, but that's quite a big revelation to drop. Is she a witch? Is she a Muggle? Is she an author? Tell us more, Dumbledore!

Newt has a relaxed philosophy

The nature of Newt's work and the dangerous situations in which he often finds himself would be cause for alarm to many people, but Newt follows a calming mantra. In consoling Jacob Kawolski while he and Newt attempt to wrangle an Erumpant in Central Park, Newt says, "My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice."

In viewing Newt's escapades through this lens, it's clear that he means what he says. Newt operates from a stance of confidence that doesn't leave room for worry. It's what enables him to achieve such daring feats, from navigating a dark cavern to freeing his brother Theseus to believing an Obscurial can rid itself of its own parasite. While these events don't always turn out according to plan, Newt approaching them with confidence means he has compartmentalized the part of his mind that says they are not possible, the part that fears an unwelcome outcome. Instead, he simply moves forward, and the wizarding world is made better because of it.