Credit: Jonathan Olley, Jaap Buitendijk

It’s been five years since director David Yates concluded Harry Potter’s big-screen story with Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Now, Yates is returning with not one but two films slated for release this year: The Legend of Tarzan and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

At first glance, the two projects couldn’t be more different: One stars Alexander Skarsgård as a vine-swinging-wildman-turned-English-aristocrat in the Congo jungle, and the other is a return to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, starring Eddie Redmayne as a magizoologist in 1920s New York. But in an interview for EW’s Summer Movie Preview issue, Yates explained that Tarzan and Fantastic Beasts share more than just a director.

“What’s fascinating about Fantastic Beasts is that it’s really about this creature within, and both Tarzan and Fantastic Beasts have this theme, really,” Yates says. “Tarzan’s trying to control and deal with this primal ferocity that he has within him and balance his civilized self with the wildness that exists. And ultimately in Fantastic Beasts, there’s a character [who] we discover has something within them also. They have a sense of wildness about them.”

In fact, part of the reason Yates signed on to direct Tarzan in the first place was because the story’s sense of magic and epic adventure reminded him of Harry Potter.

“Potter, for me, it was such a delicious universe to be in because it had humor and drama and magic and extraordinary animals and creatures, so it was a really rich universe to play in,” Yates explains. “And it was really hard to find something that was as much fun, frankly, as that.”

Besides, both J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world and the jungles of Africa share one of Yates’ favorite things: creatures that are truly, well, fantastic, whether those were ordinary apes for Tarzan or something out of Rowling’s script for Fantastic Beasts.

“I seem to be drawn into movies with beasts of one sort or another,” Yates says, laughing.

To read more of our Summer Movie Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy your choice of four collectible covers here – and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 132 minutes
  • David Yates