Warning: The interview below contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. So plug your ears if you don’t want to know…
In a film full of revelations, Queenie Goldstein’s right turn to the dark side in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is one of the most unexpected — and, for some fans, puzzling.
After all, in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Tina’s sister is introduced as a happy and charming Legilimens who falls for the affable muggle Jacob Kowolski (Dan Fogler) with nary a hint of darkness about her character. In Crimes, Queenie and Jacob go to Paris as their relationship has been deemed illegal by American wizarding law. Newt (Eddie Redmayne) then exposes that Queenie has put Jacob under a spell to manipulate him, and we hear Jacob believes she’s a bit, well, “crazy.” What follows is a spiral for Queenie, haunted by hearing the thoughts of random strangers she can’t apparently block out, and being seduced to the cause of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who promises to remake the world into a better place for wizards and muggles alike.
In an exclusive EW interview, actress Alison Sudol says she first learned of Queenie’s change while promoting the first film, and was quite shocked and bewildered too. “I was like, wait, how did this happen?” Sudol recalls. “It took a long time in my imagination to even begin to understand. And throughout the course of the film, to just begin to reconcile who she was in the beginning with the choices that she makes and realize she isn’t a different person she’s just abandoned in a really untenable circumstance.”
Yet she objects to Jacob’s suggestion that her character might have suffered some kind of breakdown.
“I feel like in some ways she’s too there and that’s part of the problem,” the 33-year-old says. “She’s tapping into all human beings at all times and that’s a lot for one person to hold and everybody closest to her is always going, ‘Don’t read my mind.’ So she has a huge power and yet is made to feel like she’s nothing and that’s bad. That could make anyone feel crazy. And women historically have this huge intuition and have been punished for that intuition forever. How many women have been in a mental institution because they’ve been called crazy when they’re just not allowed to be honest or be who they are?”
In the arena where she crosses Grindelwald’s blue fire line to join his team, Sudol explains, the character was feeling abandoned by her sister (Katherine Waterston), Newt and Jacob.
“Jacob doesn’t come with her,” she explains. “It’s not so much about Jacob not coming with her to the dark side, it’s like, ‘Jacob, walk with me, we’re in this together.’ And she doesn’t have those two, so who does she have? Newt’s kind of betrayed her — he called her out, it was embarrassing. What does she have?”
All that said, Sudol doesn’t believe Queenie has actually gone bad, not at all, but rather still hopes to do good.
“I still believe in her heart of hearts she’s going over to fight what she believes in,” Sudol says. “Grindelwald is saying, ‘we’re creating a different world’ and the world that she is in is broken. I don’t believe she’s turning evil. It’s more like she’s trying to find somebody who is giving her an option. He’s manipulating her but he’s manipulating everybody. He even did that with Dumbledore.”
For more Crimes of Grindelwald spoiler discussion, read our interview with Ezra Miller giving his thoughts on Grindelwald’s big revelation about his character.