Like his character “Jacob Kowalski, the No-Maj” in the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dan Fogler is a New Yorker with his “gravelly Brooklyn accent”, according to Pottermore. Also, this actor, comedian and singer likes the 1920’s. So, one would think that it would be natural for him to get the part, right? Wrong. He knew it would be a long shot, but Fogler was undaunted.
‘If the Harry Potter universe calls, you don’t hesitate,’…’If you have an opportunity to be a part of it, you jump on, hold on and stay on for as long as you can’.
‘I put a little costume together, made of what I thought Jacob would wear. You know, suspenders and cut-off hobo gloves and a patchy newsboy cap…’ – Dan chortles heartily at the memory – ‘I was very furry and shaggy. So, I went in and I felt really good about the audition. I flew out to the UK and did a screen test, but then my agent told me, “Well they’re going to look at a bunch of people.” You know, “Next time champ, don’t worry about it!” I had heard about a few people auditioning [for the part of Jacob], so I put it out of my mind.’
Fogler didn’t get the call until July 2015. He was at the Comic-Con in San Diego, hauling the comic books he had created to sell. The wizarding world was not in his reality until his phone rang:
‘I got the call and they were like, “Hey, you’ve got the part.” It was amazing. It was life-changing right then and there. A bolt of lightning. It was just incredible, like everything that came before had been a dream.’
A year later, he was back at Comic-Con. This time, he attended a panel discussion, an autograph signing and a Facebook Live Q&A with Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Katherine Waterston (Tina), Alison Sudol (Queenie), Colin Farrell (Graves) and Ezra Miller (Credence).
Though he has been thrown into the fandom of Harry Potter’s world, fame is not new to Fogler. He has worked in comedy, music and cult horrors with actors like Christopher Walken, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba and Aaron Eckhart. He had won the Tony Award in 2005 for his role in in the Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Fogler also has voice work added to his repertoire in the entertainment industry. He had done voice animations for Kung Fu Panda and American Dad.
‘You know what’s been interesting about my career?’ he says. ‘It’s been this slow rise with long plateaus. I’ve had time to taste fame but I definitely lean towards being the kind of actor where I’m happy to be able to walk down the street and go to the corner store and not get hassled. I don’t know what it’ll be like when the movie comes out. All I know is that I will try to be myself. I’ll probably just hunker down with my family and do some baking.’
Although his vision of “Jacob” had been different at his audition, Fogler welcomed Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood’s look for the No-Maj:
‘Oh, it was nothing like what I thought,’ says Dan. ‘I came dressed as a newsboy – that’s what I had available. But what Colleen put together was very close to a [Charlie] Chaplin suit, with the waistcoats and the layers. There were different coloured buttons on it and little coloured fringes. I imagined it was his only suit; a borrowed suit that didn’t really fit right, but it’s all Jacob had. Costumes like that feed your character so much information.’
This is what he had to say about being in the film:
‘It was really just delicious,’ says Dan about working on a fantasy film. ‘I was surrounded by amazing, top notch, talented people and it was just a pleasure to come to work every day just to see what everyone brought to the table. In every scene there was a nugget of real magic.’
‘With acting, you have this force on the silver screen and it can hit a person – or lots of people – in the audience and it moves them. That’s magic. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s magic.’
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Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is scheduled to be released in theaters on November 18, 2016.