In Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Newt Scamander Appears On The Marauder’s Map

It took a good few years, but in 2016 Harry Potter fans finally got to meet Newt Scamander in the flesh. The acclaimed magizoologist had been part of the Potter world for some time, getting name-checked every now and again. And the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gave him a much-deserved starring role. But some eagle-eyed fans watching an earlier Potter movie noticed that perhaps Newt had been part of the story for longer than anybody had thought…

The last Harry Potter novel was released in 2007 and the last movie adaptation in 2011. Some fans assumed that that was probably it for stories set in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. But they were very wrong. In 2013 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Potter movie written by Rowling herself, was announced.

Fans were already familiar with that title. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the name of a textbook in the Harry Potter universe, one that Harry and his friends used to identify the magical animals of their world. And the book itself, “written” by Newt Scamander (but really written by Rowling) had been released in 2001 to raise money for charity.

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However, fans had not yet actually seen what Newt Scamander looked like. But come June 2015, they did. Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne was cast in the role. “Eddie is a fearless actor, brimming with invention, wit and humanity,” director David Yates announced to the press. “I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of working with him as we start this new adventure in J.K. Rowling’s wonderful world, and I know she feels the same way.”

Fans looked forward very much to meeting this new main character. There were little snippets known about Newt already, from the various Harry Potter tie-ins and interviews with J.K. Rowling. He was the grandfather of Rolf Scamander, eventual husband of Harry’s friend Luna Lovegood. And he was married to a woman called Porpentina, who would be a part of the movie as well.

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Soon more casting was announced for the Fantastic Beasts movie. These names included Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein, Alison Sudol as her sister Queenie, and Dan Fogler as the non-magical Jacob Kowalski. But not in the cast was Daniel Radcliffe, the man who had played Harry Potter since the very first movie. That was because Fantastic Beasts was set in 1926, long before Harry was born.

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Though technically speaking Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a prequel, J.K. Rowling called it “neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” on her Facebook page in 2013. “Newt’s story will start in New York, 70 years before Harry’s gets under way,” she wrote.

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So the chances of Newt Scamander ever meeting Harry Potter, it seemed, were pretty low. They had two separate stories. And besides, Newt Scamander would probably have already died of old age by the time Harry was a young man. Or would he? Wizards do, after all, have a much longer lifespan than the average Muggle. Albus Dumbledore was 115 when he died!

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But there had never been any story from the pen of J.K. Rowling which described Harry meeting Newt or even any indication that they’d ever been in the same place at the same time. Until some eagle-eyed fans, poring over a particular scene in the movie of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, noticed something very interesting.

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The scene in question is the one where Fred and George Weasley show Harry the Marauder’s Map, an enchanted piece of parchment that shows where everyone is in Hogwarts. It’s tricky to make out the names of everyone in the scene where the map is first shown. Even if you pause the DVD it’s hard. But one name can clearly be seen: Newt Scamander!

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Of course, at the time this was just a fun little Easter egg for fans who remembered the book of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. After all, the movie adaptation of Harry and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in 2004, long before anybody knew just how important Newt Scamander would turn out to be.

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But if there’s one thing Harry Potter fans love, it’s theorizing. And within days of the Newt Scamander Easter egg being discovered, a ton of interesting theories had spread like wildfire about what on earth the magizoologist was doing in Hogwarts. And the theory that caught the most attention was one regarding one of the Potter world’s most beloved fantastic beasts.

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The beast in question is the hippogriff Buckbeak, a majestic but adorable creature, who made his debut in Prisoner of Azkaban. In that story he assaulted Draco Malfoy, the Slytherin bully who was picking on him, and was sentenced to death. Buckbeak’s imminent execution forms an important part of the book.

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Who else would Dumbledore call to save poor Buckbeak if not a famous magizoologist? And bearing in mind that Harry Potter lore also states that Dumbledore was once Newt’s teacher, and they remained friends, the older Newt had a perfectly good reason to be at Hogwarts that day. He was there fighting for hippogriff rights!

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Of course, every Harry Potter fan knows that Newt Scamander ultimately wasn’t the person responsible for saving Buckbeak. That was Harry himself, aided by Hermione. The hippogriff passed to the care of Sirius Black, then to Harry, then to Hagrid, and was still alive at the end of the final Potter book. Newt would no doubt be delighted.

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The theory that Newt was at Hogwarts to try to save Buckbeak was far from the only one that gained traction. Some people wondered if the Newt Scamander seen on the map was actually a ghost, as the Marauder’s Map shows the locations of ghosts as well. But it would be strange for Newt to choose the “feeble imitation of life” granted to ghosts in the books.

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So what does this all mean for the Potterverse as a whole? Well, one thing is for certain: there will be many more Fantastic Beasts movies starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. The as-yet-untitled sequel to the first movie will be in cinemas for November 2018 – and a young Albus Dumbledore will be appearing! He’ll be played by British actor Jude Law.

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J.K. Rowling and her team plan to eventually expand the Potterverse a great deal, explaining the pasts of characters like Dumbledore and his lover-turned-enemy Grindelwald. There will be more than one sequel, in fact, to Fantastic Beasts – no fewer than five are planned so far, as the first movie was a huge financial success.

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This was great news for Potterheads everywhere, especially since Fantastic Beasts had originally been planned as only a trilogy. “We always knew it was going to be more than one movie, and we said a trilogy as a place holder,” J.K. Rowling told fans and the media while promoting the first Beasts film in 2016. “But I’ve done the plotting properly and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be five movies.”

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But of course the question remains… will Harry Potter and Newt Scamander ever actually meet? Could the very old Newt one day serve as a mentor to the younger man? Considering the amount by which the story is expanding – a sequel, the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, also came out in 2016 – it’s still very possible. Watch this space.

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