Warning: Spoilers ahead for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
It was the biggest twist in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and perhaps the most controversial revelation in a Harry Potter universe title yet. Now star Ezra Miller is discussing for the first time that the identity of his character, Credence Barebone, is actually Aurelius Dumbledore, presumed brother of Albus (Jude Law).
“I was shocked, stunned, confused, petrificus totalus with wonder and fascination,” the 26-year-old Miller tells EW. “And I still have a lot of questions for which I have no answers.”
Miller first learned about his character’s identity when the Fantastic Beasts team was promoting the release of the first film in 2016. Author J.K. Rowling filled him in on some initial details. Going into the second film, he says the knowledge that he’s a Dumbledore (yes, it’s apparently true) caused him to tweak his performance slightly.
“Yes, on a certain, a very, very subtle level,” Miller says. “This character is changing, going through physical changes in relation to the Obscurial, [with] which we know he has an unusual relationship. So as he changes, there’s an opportunity for me as an actor to look to five of my favorite performances of all time — the people I’ve seen play Albus and Aberforth. Shout out to all those incredible actors, and I’m thrilled to play the game that we’re now blood relations. It’s very fun. And there’s a funny connection to the name Aurelius given one of the actors who played Dumbledore.” (We figured that one out).
One of the things that is unclear at the film’s end is whether Albus actually knows Credence is his brother, and that’s one thing Miller is in the dark about as well. “We truly do not know,” Miller said. “Jude knows. But he won’t tell you.”
The revelation has challenged the Wizarding World’s fandom, as many are pointing several ways that the claim doesn’t seem to make sense (such as the age difference between Albus and Aurelius given the fate of their parents). Miller isn’t worried about that, noting that Rowling doesn’t plot big moves without an explanation in mind.
“Jo’s really good at that,” Miller said. “She knows the mythology so well and I think she’s into confounding you for a moment and having a fan go, ‘wait that can’t make sense!’ and then showing you how things you thought couldn’t make sense make sense. I think she enjoys people not getting it for a second. She’s done it to us a bunch of times.”
When pressed to make a prediction about his character’s future, Miller demures in the most Potter-possible way, saying he’s “no Trelawney.” But he will venture this: “If the question of the first film was what, and the question of this film was who, my prediction, if I’m making any, is that Aurelius’ question in the next film will be: why” — why, in other words, was Aurelius outcast from his family and hidden away.
Aside from that, Miller pointed out that Credence — er, Aurelius — has radically improved his control over his powers in the film.
“When the Obscurus bursts out [in the first film] it also kills some of his foster siblings, and lots of people presumably got taken out in New York City when it mashed around,” he noted. “Here there’s one moment where they got attacked and Nagini is safe in that encounter. A tool like that is for focus and direction for preexisting magic. You think of channeling something down the waterways down a branch of wood. It feels like a metaphor for an artist: If you can survive your trauma, and then survive your survival of it, and then you can figure out a means for directing it, that’s power unknown on the face of the earth.”
Miller added he’s quite excited to be on Team Grindelwald along with his costar Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein).
“Alison are I are so excited to be on the ambiguous villains side because the villain on a certain level is always right,” Miller said. “The protagonist, on a certain level, has to maintain the status quo. That’s why we love villains because they come and try to shake things up. And then it’s about restoring the power and potency to doing good. And Jo does incredible work with that. She reminds that what’s better than being a violent idiot is being a smart thoughtful caring wonderful human.”
And what will they do at Nurmengard Castle the meantime?
“Probably just hang out all the time,” Miller said. “Hopefully Antonio the chupacabra — who was treated so foully by our fearless leader and master — has some siblings somewhere. We have a phoenix. We have the Obscurus juice. Plus Grindelwald is one of the most formidable wizards of all time. And we’ll get better costumes since we’re now on the villains side.”
Next up: Alison Sudol explains Queenie’s surprise defection to Team Grindelwald.