LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Eddie Redmayne has been offered the role of Newt Scamander in Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter" spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," according to sources.
As Variety first reported, Redmayne was the front-runner for the role and was intrigued but wanted a finished script before committing. Insiders say that now that the script has been delivered, he is very happy with what he has read.
J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut on the trilogy. Warner Bros. had no comment.
Though director David Yates may be considering a few other actors, it's looking like Redmayne has the inside track. WB declined to comment on this story.
Set in New York roughly seven decades before Harry Potter's saga starts, Fantastic Beasts is based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name and follows the adventures of its author, Newt Scamander. Scamander is described as a "magiczoologist," which in the "Harry Potter" realm is a person who studies magical creatures. Besides Scamander, there are four other main roles -- two American girls and two American boys -- that the studio is looking to cast.
"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the 'Harry Potter' series but an extension of the wizarding world," Rowling explained.
Yates and the studio were expected to meet next week for the two female leads but wanted to make sure Redmayne was locked up before those tests began.
He has finished production on Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl, which premieres in November. Warner Bros. and Redmayne recently worked together on Jupiter Ascending, in which he played the villain opposite Channing Tatum. Though that film failed to meet expectations at the box office, the British thesp is still in high demand following his Oscar win for The Theory of Everything.