A normal Tuesday evening became not-so-conventional when on my phone appeared an American number calling. It was the one-and-only Dan Fogler, calling from New York ready to begin our interview. The first thing he asks is whether I’m related to Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones – a question I get asked frequently. Unfortunately not, but the fact that Mr Fogler asked, I was flattered nevertheless. You may have recently seen the 42-year-old in the second instalment in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, one of 2018’s most anticipated films. The actor plays no-maj Jacob Kowalski – a bakery owner, a world war one veteran and most importantly an ally to Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, the protagonist of the film. “It was like coming back to university,” he said on being reunited with the likes of Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston. He confesses that this time around it was quick fun and relaxing. “I went to college so to me it was like coming back to sophomore year basically, you know the ropes and I was more confident.”
Back in 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was an instant box office hit, with fans hailing the return of the Wizarding World following the release of the final Potter film – The Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 2011. It was a reassurance that the world still existed at its best, even with a brand new setting and a fresh bunch of characters. While the first film acted as a light and fun taste of what was to come in the five-part series, it made room for The Crimes of Grindelwald to take the new franchise to a much darker level thanks to Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp) – the series’ answer to Voldemort. Just before we got into talking about the film, he stops and reminds me that in New York it was 11:11am. We both made a wish before getting back to it. He tells me that just by the title alone he knew that this film was going to be more intense. “As to reading it [the script], I was kinda like man they’re putting the good guys through the ringer,” he said. The actor says that aspect of the film reminds him a lot of his favourite franchises in the sense that it has a balancing combination of ingredients. “It had the good guys being taken down a notch, the bad guys levelling up the playing field and then at the end you’re worried like ‘I’ve got to see the next one to see if everyone makes it out’,” he continued.
“You learn secrets and people transform. It’s really a lot that happens. And I thought the execution of it was beautiful, there were some really gorgeous moments in it.”
In the first film, Fogler’s character Jacob falls into a beautiful blossoming romance with American witch Queenie (Alison Sudol) – a relationship that is forbidden to be cemented due to his none-magical abilities. The Crimes of Grindelwald perfectly captures that struggle. In fact, that struggle occurs in one of the more intense scenes in the film. In short, Jacob calls Queenie crazy for wanting to join Grindelwald, in turn, it sees the pair separate. For Fogler, he admits that the film allowed himself and Sudol to get to the core of what sets their characters off. “The thing with Jacob is if you call him a coward that really upsets him, and if you call or think she’s crazy that upsets her,” he said. “In that first scene right after the dinner scene when Jacob and Queenie have that argument the reason that she leaves is because Jacobs thinks in his head, he doesn’t say it, but he thinks that she’s going nuts and the things that get under people’s skin are things that have truth to it.” The actor goes on to say that he believes Jacob thinks that he is a coward from being in the war and that Queenie because she reads minds that makes her crazy – the film delves into what really gets underneath each other’s skins. “We thought wow in that scene where they separate and [she] joins Grindelwald, I was like I have to say it ‘you’re crazy’ because then I think for their relationship she would be upset enough to leave Jacob and Jacob would be upset enough to stay where he is and let her go because he really does think she’s lost her mind,” he said.
“I think he’s already forgiven her by the end of the movie,” he laughs. “At the end of the movie he’s looking off at the horizon hoping that she’s going to come back. He’s in love with her forever.”
He admits that the first time he saw that crucial scene he thought there were moments where he was overacting. “As an actor I’m looking at it as ‘okay am I believable? Did I pull it off?” he said. Though, after the fifth time of seeing his work he thought “wow this is epic”. It was a hard scene, he mentions. “That was a hard job for Alison (Queenie) because I was basically playing Jacob the same character I was playing in the first movie and by the end, he gets a real punch in the gut, but she really transforms.” Talking about Sudol, Fogler can’t seem to stop gushing about his work partner. “She’s an angel. The chemistry was instant you know, you just have good chemistry with people sometimes,” he gushed. “She’s just a pleasure and she’s very giving. It’s also really easy when the character she is playing is so endearing and lovely.”
For any actor starring in a film doing press is crucial, but never has a press tour being as both fun and interactive with its fans than a Wizarding World film. One of Fogler’s favourite memories of promoting The Crimes of Grindelwald was the film’s world premiere, in no other place than Paris – one of the romance capitals of the world. “That was beautiful, being in that city which was already magical and doing the premiere there was cool,” he gushed. “Everyone was looking good and feeling good.” He also makes references to his co-star Ezra Miller (Credence) and his many stand-out outfits during the tour. “He had one outfit where he looked like Lady Gaga’s protégé, he cracks me up, he’s amazing,” he said. One thing that Fogler does want to point out was that there wasn’t an earthquake in Japan this time. “The first time we went to Japan was lovely and on the very last day we were there, there was an earthquake. So this last time there wasn’t, which was great.” A press tour is always a chance for the actors to be introduced to fans and there is a no bigger fan base than that of the Potterverse. While it must be daunting to bring a new franchise to one that has been a crucial part of many individuals childhoods, he insists they were incredibly inviting. “Before they even know if I was good or not, before I was even cast in the movie they heard I was in it and they were like ‘welcome to the family,” he said.
Fogler’s fan base will soon grow more now he is a member of The Walking Dead family. “I was a fan of the comic books and I watched a couple of episodes in every season,” he said. “But I was never able to binge it. I’ve got two kids and by the time I can watch anything I’m exhausted.” He admits that he’s behind on all television. Going back to The Walking Dead we briefly touch upon Andrew Lincoln’s departure from the show. “There is going to be a lot more with him. It’s just a little while until you see him again,” he said. And he’s correct, as it has been confirmed that Rick Grimes will appear in a trilogy of The Walking Dead television based movies. Yeah, that’s exciting but what Fogler mentions about his role to come in the second half of Season 9 of the hit zombie show will get you excited for the show to return. The actor, who play’s Luke (a member of Magna’s group), spills the beans of an exciting scene to come. “He’s a music teacher and there is this big fayre coming up where different relatives get together and they put on this giant festival,” he said enthusiastically.
“At the festival, there is a little musical number that I sing in and I play the guitar which is very exciting.”
Fogler seems genuinely enthusiastic about The Walking Dead’s future. “It’s amazing, nine seasons. People are obsessed with this concept,” he said. He’s right, the show isn’t slowing down but neither is the actor himself. Expect to see more of him on our television screens and of course the third instalment in the amazing Fantastic Beasts franchise. I thank Fogler for a great interview and we end our across the pond phone interview with a goodbye.