Eddie Redmayne Says Newt Scamander in 'Fantastic Beasts' Is Autistic
Eddie Redmayne, who plays the beloved Newt Scamander in the “Fantastic Beasts” films, said he believes Scamander is on the autism spectrum. Digital Spy asked the actor for his thoughts during an interview on Thursday, though fans have speculated about the character since the first film’s release in 2016.
Redmayne said he thought Scamander probably had Asperger’s after he spoke with J.K. Rowling about the character’s mannerisms before the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie. Autism wasn’t recognized in the 1920s, so he said there wasn’t a diagnosis for Scamander. Though some people use Asperger’s as a label, it’s now considered part of the autism spectrum and isn’t widely used anymore.
— Digital Spy (@digitalspy) November 15, 2018
Though J.K. Rowling has not said anything about Scamander possibly being autistic, many fans have come to that conclusion because of “quirky” characteristics and other mannerisms. For instance, Scamander rarely looks people in the eyes and is quite shy. He also has a deep interest in magical creatures, which is a major strength in the first movie. Some people on the autism spectrum similarly find topics they are extremely interested in.
Emily Simmons, a contributor for The Odyssey Online, wrote about what it was like to watch “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and find themselves represented in Scamander.
“Leaving the theater, an image of a child like Newt going to see that movie popped into my mind,” Simmons wrote. “If I, a college student, could feel a bit better about myself after seeing Newt, I couldn’t imagine what Newt would do for an autistic child obsessed with animals and the ‘Harry Potter’ universe.”
Simmons added that there needs to be more representation of neurodivergent characters, especially characters where a disability, illness or another condition isn’t a major focal point. The story doesn’t have to revolve around that character’s disability, illness or autism.
“Whether Newt actually has autism or some other neurodivergent condition or is just a bit peculiar, whether you love the movie or hate it, whether you love Eddie Redmayne or hate him, one thing is very clear: There needs to be more representation of people like Newt,” Simmons wrote. “Many people, including myself, fell in love with him instantly when they saw themselves reflected in Newt.”
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