Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) has been officially cast as the lead character Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter spin-off movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Warner Bros. announced on Monday.
Potter author J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut with the new franchise. It's adapted from her slim book of the same name that she published in 2001, with the bulk of the proceeds going to charity.
Presented as a Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts is purportedly written by Scamander, a "magizoologist," and covers dozens of magical creatures in Rowling's fictional wizarding world. Scamander was born in 1897, and published the book in 1927; the film is expected to serve as a prequel of sorts to the Harry Potter films, well before Potter's character would have been alive — but well after the beloved character of Albus Dumbledore was born.
Fantastic Beasts is expected to continue as, at least, a trilogy of films.
Rowling isn't the only Potter veteran returning to her fictional world, either. David Yates, who directed the final four Harry Potter films, will direct Fantastic Beasts, and Potter producer David Heyman, screenwriter Steve Kloves, and executive producer Lionel Wigram are all producing Fantastic Beasts with Rowling.
The film is scheduled to open on Nov. 18, 2016.