ELLE's Exclusive Interview With The Female Leads Of 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them'

Hot on the release of J.K. Rowling's latest literary adaptation, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, we caught up with the star's leading actresses Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol, to talk sisters, female leads and on-set jokes

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There's not many times in life when you have the chance to sit down with two real-life witches. But, that's exactly what ELLE did last week ahead of the international release of David Yates' new fantasy film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Okay, so actresses Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol might not be actual witches, but in the context of J.K. Rowling's latest book adaptation, it's kind of hard to distinguish what's real and what's fiction given the author's immeasurable skill at creating believable mystical worlds and intricate character relationships in the imagination of readers.

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I mean, who else is still waiting on their Hogwarts letter and the day for their parents to finally admit this life is all a ruse and that you are in fact a wizard/witch?

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If you haven't managed to see the film yet (er, what are you waiting for?), the plot tells the story of British writer Newt Scamander who finds himself immersed in New York's secret community of witches and wizards, 70 years before Harry Potter finds his book in Hogwarts.

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In the film, actresses Waterston and Sudol play the Goldstein sisters – called Porpentina 'Tina' and Queen, respectively – who form one half of the quartet of protagonists, alongside Eddie Redmayne (Newt) and Dan Fogler (Kowalski).

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We sat own with the film's leading female protagonists to talk the magic of sisterly bonds, female leads in film and, of course, spell-binging fashion:

In 'Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them', you both play magical sisters with complimentary personalities. Did you draw from your own lives to prepare for the role?

KW: It's hard to identify what bits of your own life are working and what's invented. There were a lot of things about Tina that were different from me but I do have a sister and found myself thinking about her a lot. I had a picture of us when we were kids in my trailer.

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AS: Whenever you meet another woman, you immediately revert to you five-year-old self thinking, 'do you want to be my friend. Can I keep you?' There's that strange kinship that comes out of nowhere when you feel like you've known someone forever. Katherine and I were very lucky we had that as it became the fabric of our relationship.

J.K Rowling creates very strong female leads and in this film we're lucky to have both of you. Do you think female leads are important?

KW: 'Definitely. I think it's a pretty hopeful time right now. J.K. Rowling was at the forefront of this movement – I'm sure she's affected a lot of change in the industry because her films did so well and had an incredibly dynamic, strong female character in them.

Nowadays I look around and feel pretty hopeful because there are so many stories being told with not just strong but also complex female characters that contain multitudes like all human beings do.

AS: There are so many different kinds of women to look to now. As a young girl, you learn so much [from film], especially if you don't have many female role models to look to in your life. I look to films to learn and to see different avenues that you can take in growing up.

We both felt very fortunate we could have two sisters who meet very firmly in the middle but who are so different and layered. It's highly important for young women to see that.

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The costumes are beautiful and are made by award-winning costume designer, Colleen Atwood. Did you have a favourite item of clothing and if so, why?

KW: I showed Coleen a pair of my own pyjamas that are vintage and she copied them and tweaked the sleeves to make them longer and they were in the film. That felt so personal to me because they were basically my pyjamas .

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'Coleen is so collaborative and her designs are so beautiful but she understands how much costume contributes to character development and performance. She doesn't just design clothes that will look great on camera but clothes that inform the character. I didn't fully understand Tina until I was in her clothes.

AS: She made our shoes which were amazing. I had quite high-heeled shoes and had to run along a lot of cobbled-stoned streets – they were brilliant.

'Even though I wore my dress every day for the six month shoot, it felt so wonderful, it felt almost like a rose petal, feather-light and even during reshoots I was so happy to wear the dress again.'

Was there anyone that was the 'comedian' on set?

KW: Probably Dan [Fogler], his spells were incredible. He had after lunch spells on set like 'Leonardo Decaffeinate' if you had too much energy and male and female 'act better' spells like 'Catherine Hepurnicus' which would make you a brilliant actress and 'Sir Lawrence Oliviate' for male actors. They kept you going when you'd been up since 5am.

Fantastic Beasts is out now. Watch the trailer for the film below:

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