Dan Fogler on The Crimes of Grindelwald, Jacob’s future, and how Harry Potter compares to Star Wars.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a special screening of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I got to see the film the night before a fan screening at Universal Studios. While I do consider myself a fan of Harry Potter, I wouldn’t say that I am a Potterhead. I enjoyed the franchise quite a bit, and the Fantastic Beasts franchise is quickly becoming as impressive as the Harry Potter films. With that being said, I have been anxiously waiting to see The Crimes of Grindelwald ever since the San Diego Comic-Con Hall H panel where the second trailer premiered, and Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance as Grindelwald.
So, after seeing the film, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with several members of the Fantastic Beasts cast including Dan Fogler. This is my interview with Dan Fogler who plays Jacob Kowalski in the film.
Scott Menzel: Hi, Dan, nice to meet you. I wanted to tell you, first and foremost, that I enjoyed the first movie, and I think that the second movie is even better because it builds upon this world even more.
Dan Fogler: Lovely and nice meeting you as well.
Scott Menzel: I love how your character has changed from one film to this one. I loved that we got to see a lot of growth with the character.
Dan Fogler: Awesome.
Scott Menzel: My first question for you would be, were you always a fan of this universe before becoming part of this?
Dan Fogler: I was first a Star Wars guy because that’s what I grew up on. But I appreciated this franchise. There’s just so much content out there, and there are not enough hours in the day. So, I started this series late to the game starting with Azkaban, because I was a fan of Gary Oldman as an actor. And Azkaban was my favorite movie out of the whole Harry Potter series. And then, after watching that film, I said, “Oh, okay, so let me go back.” Then I’d see the first one, and then I saw the second one, and then I’d see, like, six, and then I’d go back and see five. And then I wasn’t finished with it, but I got the part. I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t?” Because it takes place, as you know before, it’s a prequel, and Jacob shouldn’t know any of this stuff! So, it was probably best that I just try to obliviate myself, you know?
Scott Menzel: Absolutely, that makes a lot of sense.
Dan Fogler: But then, being in it, and constantly comparing it to Star Wars in my head, all of the wonderful ways where they’re both the hero’s journey. Search for the mother, search for the father. It’s all same stuff, archetypal characters, which is why you love the characters so much. But what J.K managed to do that Lucas wasn’t able to do, was that Lucas has a galaxy far, far away. And Harry Potter is next door. Harry Potter could tap on your window with a letter and that’s what J.K. did that is so special. Because there are kids out there who read all these books and people who are waiting for their Hogwarts letter. It’s not far, far away. It’s a real, tangible thing to them. Where, as much as I love Star Wars, it’s still very kind of at a distance. Yeah, that’s what I love about it. And I became a real, huge fan of it after doing the first film.
Scott Menzel: How has your interaction with the fans been? Has there been a fan theory that you haven’t been able to answer?
Dan Fogler: Oh, a fan theory?
Scott Menzel: Yeah, you know how there’s always so many.
Dan Fogler: Well, I love the one about Quentin Kowalski, who’s the Quidditch player which I’m just like, oh, that’s nice. Maybe he’s a relative because Quentin is the male version of Queenie. Kowalski is my last name. Like, maybe he’s a grandson or something, or wouldn’t it be lovely if the lineage continued there? I like that fan theory.
Scott Menzel: How do you feel like your character has changed for you in terms of performance, from the last film to this film?
Dan Fogler: The first film, he was kind of like the bumbling eyes of the audience, essentially. Kind of like staggering through the adventure with everybody, as in awe of the special effects as the audience, right? And then, this time around, getting to play the fact that he’s retained a lot of the memory from last time, so he’s kind of been there, done that. The creatures aren’t as astonishing, so he can just be like, “Okay, okay, hold on.” You know? Which is really fun to play. I like that moment where the Augurey looks at him, and he’s just like, “I got my own problems.” That’s hysterical to me.
Scott Menzel: I enjoyed that too. It was great.
Dan Fogler: I think that’s the whole next level, a complex comedy that I get to play, which is great. I get to continue the relationship with Newt, where we kind of play the Sherlock/Watson in the Wizarding World, where we’re two different sides of a brain that are able to help each other exist in the world. Where the first movie, Newt was all about, “How do I even talk to people?” You know? In this movie, he’s like, “How do I talk to Tina?” And so, it’s getting more specific in their relationship. To me, I look at it, and I’m like, yes! This is the natural progression of where these people would be at this time in their relationship. And that’s what J.K. does, and that’s what I’m talking about, she makes it really tangible and real, amidst this enormous, epic, sprawling, sci-fi, fantasy fest.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. That kind of brings up another point. So, the first movie, Rowling did not write the screenplay but this one, she did.
Dan Fogler: Well, she had a huge impact.
Scott Menzel: I can see that, but I heard she had a more prominent role this time around.
Dan Fogler: Absolutely.
Scott Menzel: And then she’s going to have a more significant role in the next one, too. So, I have to ask, what was it like having the creator of this universe on set with you, and watching over everyone?
Dan Fogler: Well, it’s awesome. With the first movie, it was like actually having like an actual wizard on set. She has this aura about her. And then, we each had our moments where it was a more pared-down set, so she had more time to sit with us individually. I got to sit with her during the first movie for like a good half hour to 45 minutes one time. And she talked to me about my whole journey, for all five films. And I thought, “Holy shit,” that’s the greatest story I’ve ever heard.
Scott Menzel: So you know what’s going to come ahead for your character?
Dan Fogler: (Laughs) Hold on a sec.
Scott Menzel: Oh, okay!
Dan Fogler: So, this movie, I’m at rehearsal, and I turn to her, and I go, “I just wanted to check in. So, I’m really excited about what you told me about when this happens to me, and then that happens, and so I’m just wondering, am I still on that trajectory?” And she’s like, “Oh, all of that’s changed.” And I was just like “Oh for the love of!” So, now I’m just at the point where I’m just like, I want to know as little as possible. Because you get your hopes up and your brain makes up these stories where you start acting out all of these adventures, and then she has already written some other new thing and moved on. It’s amazing, it really is, so now I try to get as little as possible. I know a little bit that’s going on in the next movie, how I enter the movie. But I don’t even know if that’s going to be the same. You don’t know! You just don’t know. She’ll be sitting there, watching the second movie in the movie theater, and just be like, “No, this is how he’s going to do it!”
Scott Menzel: She probably reads the fan theories after each film too!
Dan Fogler: Yeah! (laughs) She probably does.
Scott Menzel: And she’s like, hmm, how can I switch it up on them? No, it’s fascinating to think about. Well, Dan, sadly that is all the time we have to talk. Thank you very much for talking with me, and good luck with the film.
Dan Fogler: Nice talking with you and thank you.