“Who Will Change the Future?” That’s the tagline of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the latest eagerly anticipated installment in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise. It’s also the biggest question surrounding the fate of diversification in Hollywood casting, and one that Rowling’s franchise might be playing a significant role in.
The Wizarding World franchise has grown in leaps and bounds over its initial launch November 14, 2001, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone took to the Hollywood screens for the first time. Since then, Rowling has expanded her universe considerably, offering us a glimpse at new heroes and secret stories involving established heroes, which have never been seen by fans or casual audiences alike. From the standpoint of the film adaptations, the franchise has also been predominantly led by Caucasian casts, with minority roles generally being relegated to a background or minor supporting capacity. However, notably, since 2001, Hollywood itself has also grown as an industry, finally moving towards a more diverse landscape, with audiences finally making their voices heard to studios about the need for better representation for people of color within the medium of mainstream film.
With Crimes of Grindelwald hitting theaters on November 16, 2018, the Wizarding World will be tested; not only due to the coming war between Grindelwald and the Wizarding Community, but also as a major studio tent-pole franchise in need of minority representation.
As such, to pose the question once more, in regards to diversity in Hollywood, who will indeed change the future? Will it be J.K. Rowling, David Yates, and David Heyman? Actress, Claudia Kim, who portrays the key role of Nagini in the film, thinks so.
When asked about whether her role as a fixture in Wizarding World lore represents a shift in the industry in terms of people of color getting more prominent roles in Hollywood, Claudia had this to say:
“Definitely… Back home I’m just getting so much love and support beyond anything I have ever imagined. I know some people have voiced, ‘Why is Nagini, the Asian person, duped to become this snake?’ [However] I think it’s such an important movement, and such an important voice that’s changing things for us right now. It’s just the beginning.”
Continuing on about her experience seeing the lack of representation in Hollywood, Kim said:
“I’ve experienced these obvious Asian roles being replaced by Caucasians. And my friends and I talk about the ‘one Asian role per movie’ thing. And all that has to improve. That’s why I feel more grateful that I’m part of this franchise, and I feel the weight of the responsibility.”
Further discussing her role of Nagini and her relationship with Ezra Miller’s Credence in the film, Claudia had this to say:
“I feel like Nagini sees herself in [Credence]. She identifies with his loneliness and just being lost — that vulnerability… He gives her hope… She has this incredible, powerful beast living inside of her, and she hasn’t made use of that yet. And Credence is the one that motivates her to take that freedom, and go on this journey with him to find the answers.”
When Claudia was asked what the Korean and American film industries can learn from one another, she said:
“Korean films have such a distinct style. Our films are really dark. Korean people are not,” she said laughing. “But we have a dark side. They’re very heavy. Very serious. And I feel like, at least the Hollywood films that I’ve been in, have been more light, and have comedy and a sense of humor. I guess Koreans can learn to be a little more funny.” In regard to the American film industry, she continued, “It’s just so different. A lot of people are crossing over now, so the collaborations are always interesting. It’s just such a different market. Different people. Different cultures.”
When asked about whether, as an actress in a Wizarding World movie, she has been able to offer suggestions about what her character could or could not be doing on set, Claudia said:
“David [Yates] allows a lot of space for us to explore what feels right for us. And I think that’s the reason he made me transform into a snake in person. Was it necessary? Um…” she posed after giggling at the notion. “I think he was seeking inspiration too as to the body movement… He takes so much time to discuss the character and scene with us before we get into anything. And you’d think with a writer like Jo — In Korea we have some of those writers where you can’t change a single word, or you won’t be on that show anymore. There’s that fear — But they’re not like that at all. The only thing Jo’s ever emphasized to me was her love for my character.”
While both the future of diversity in the industry, as well as the fate of the Wizarding World are still to be determined, one thing for sure is certain. Given our time with Claudia, we very much look forward to seeing her specific impact on the industry as her career progresses further with bigger roles to come in Hollywood and the Wizarding World narrative with great anticipation.
Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters November 16, 2018.