Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is just a few weeks away, and tickets are on sale now! We’re ready to meet new denizens of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. After the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escapes MACUSA custody and sets out to gather a group of loyal followers to rule over non-magical beings. As the conflict divides factions of witches and wizards, even family loyalties come into question.
In the sequel, opening on November 16, we’ll see more of Newt Scamander, and learn much about the early life of Albus Dumbledore. In hopes of stopping Grindelwald’s plan, young Dumbledore (Jude Law) finds an ally in his former student, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
And there’s a surprising character returning for this chapter. Fans might recognize the name Nagini, last seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2. Thing is, last time we saw Nagini, she was a snake, and a servant of Voldemort. Here’s how the character’s return could be a huge deal.
With each new trailer release, more about the plot of Fantastic Beasts 2 is coming to light. In one trailer, fans found a clue that showed some kind of family tree. The image suggested that Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) share the same father, making them half-siblings. How their relationship will come into focus is yet to be seen.
Leta Lestrange’s family history isn’t the only revelation so far. The most recent footage put another new character on the board. Promotional materials announced Claudia Kim for a character called the Maledictus, explained as “a carrier of a blood curse, which will ultimately destine them to transform permanently into a beast.”
It turns out that Kim plays the human version of Nagini, previously seen throughout the Harry Potter series as Lord Voldemort’s serpent companion. Rowling apparently had the character’s backstory up her sleeve for decades, but it was shrouded in secrecy until now.
Who Is Nagini?
Nagini and her master shared a special bond, because Voldemort was a Parselmouth, meaning he could speak to snakes. Not only were the two able to communicate; Voldemort could also possess Nagini. He used the venomous snake as one of the infamous Horcruxes — the containers for parts of his soul that allowed him to persist beyond death. But she wasn’t always so close to the Dark Lord. Claudia Kim talked about the complexities of Nagini in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini. You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”
In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Nagini will play heavily into Credence’s story arc. Nagini is part of Circus Arcanus, in which she serves as the main attraction. Her blood curse gives her the ability to transform into a snake, which draws huge audiences. While working for the circus, she befriends Credence, who has run off after the events of the last movie. Nagini knows that she’ll eventually turn into a snake permanently. She struggles with control, much like Credence does, and the duo bonds over what Claudia Kim calls their “broken souls.”
From what we’ve seen so far, it’s difficult to imagine this version of Nagini turning into Voldemort’s killer sidekick. As Voldemort’s loyal snake, she had several standout moments in the Harry Potter series. Voldemort used Nagini to attack Arthur Weasley in the Ministry of Magic, and she played a major role in Voldemort’s fight for power. Notably, Nagini was responsible for the death of Severus Snape.
Nagini’s introduction provides another connection to the lore tying together the whole Harry Potter universe. Her background might even change our perception of those thought to be pure evil. We don’t know what changed Nagini into the villainous snake. Her backstory could be dynamic, and interesting, and it could add complexity to a story we thought we already knew inside and out.
Get your tickets for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, opening November 16.