“I’m not allowed to say anything about that!” exclaims Zoë Kravitz, echoing the most common thing we hear from actors in the latest super-secret Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
And no wonder: The 29-year-old actress/singer/model plays the mysterious Leta (pronounced lee-tah) Lestrange, Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) former “close friend” from his Hogwarts days who shares a surname with one of the most notorious dark wizards of all time, Bellatrix Estrange (Helena Bonham Carter in the Potter films), and who’s rumored to be the half-sister of troubled Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) — which is the topic she’s forbidden from discussing.
But according to executive producer David Heyman, Leta might simply be misunderstood. “Leta is in some ways burdened by her name,” he says. “The fact that she is a Lestrange has led some people to believe her to be a bad person. But as with a lot of J.K. Rowling’s writing, you have a rich complex character, and it’s one that Zoe brings to life.”
While Redmayne says, of Newt’s relationship with Leta: “It’s one of those relationships where there was definitely great love there, there was also romance, but was it ever a full blown relationship? I don’t know. But certainly she’s somebody who has touched [Newt] hugely and at the beginning of this film you realize she’s in a relationship with his brother so, of course, that comes with great complications.”
Below, Kravitz herself also gave us a few tidbits (including a reaction to Leta getting dissed by Queenie in the first film):
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what can you tell us about Leta?
ZOE KRAVITZ: We’ve only seen her previously in a photograph from Newt’s office. They’re friends from childhood when they went to Hogwarts. They have quite a special bond and she was always looked at as an outcast, just as Newt was. Now he’s come back into town and learns she’s become engaged to his brother Theseus, so that’s an awkward situation.
Why awkward? Were Newt and Leta actually romantically involved?
I don’t think it ever went to that place, but Newt has so few friends and connections in his childhood, maybe in his mind it might have gone there? I don’t think it was ever acted upon. But it still feels like a betrayal when she ends up with Theseus.
And from what I hear, she’s got a bad reputation?
Yeah, being a pureblood is a big deal. When she walks into a party people take a double take. She’s always felt like an outcast because of that and she’s very edgy because she’s used to being judged, and has created a bubble of protection of herself.
In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Queenie dissed Leta as a “taker” not “a giver,” was that kinda rude?
I think that’s a bit of a harsh judgment! Newt is such an awkward person he has a hard time standing up for himself, maybe he doesn’t vocalize what he feels and it looks like he’s getting walked on. But Leta is a compassionate person, especially towards Newt. But she’s also a powerful person, a force, and that could become a problem between them.