Dumbledore and Theseus Have an Unexplored Past in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Keely Flaherty
Movies Fantasy
Movies Fantasy Harry Potter

WARNING: This post contains huge spoilers for the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Proceed at your own caution.

Everyone knows that Jude Law has made Dumbledore confusingly hot. Older Harry Potter fans who only ever knew him as the kindly and mysterious old Hogwarts Headmaster are all sorts of sexually confused. But we mustn’t forget that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald also introduced us to an equally hot new character: Theseus Scamander, Newt’s (Eddie Redmayne) brother.

We saw precious few scenes of Theseus’ swooping red hair and pouty lips in Crimes of Grindelwald, but we’ll surely see more of both in future films. We chatted with Theseus himself, actor Callum Turner, about how he transformed into the Ministry’s buttoned-up golden boy, who he thinks Leta Lestrange’s (Zoë Kravitz) final “I love you” was meant for, and what that one mysterious line from Hot Dumbledore actually meant.

Leta’s Final “I Love You” Is Very Complicated

In one of the movie’s most heartbreaking scenes, Leta Lestrange sacrifices herself to save the Scamander brothers from Grindelwald’s wrath. As her body disintegrates in a cyclone of blue fire, she turns to the brothers — who are standing side-by-side — and says, “I love you.” It’s just not clear who she’s speaking to.

At the time of her death, Leta’s engaged to Theseus. But throughout the movie, we see flashbacks of Newt and Leta’s friendship and time together at Hogwarts — and though she never says anything, it’s clear there’s some sort of unspoken love between them that’s been torn apart by her engagement to Newt’s brother.

Theseus Scamander Crimes of Grindelwald

Turner explained of the dynamic, “You get the fact that there’s a deep love between [Theseus and Leta] and a connection in a completely different way than how Newt and Leta love. Theseus and Leta are opposites, whereas Newt and Leta are very similar. Theseus offers her support and love and acceptance and stability in a way that Newt was never able to; theirs was always more of a companionship rather than being in love.”

But who does Turner think Leta’s final message was meant for? “Objectively speaking, as Callum, I think she’s saying it to both of them. Theseus would think that she’s speaking to him, and Newt would think that she’s speaking to Theseus.” So, basically, we’ll probably never know. But Callum is sure that she felt love for both men. “Her love for Newt is just as strong as her love for Theseus, and vice versa, just in a different way. It’s heartbreaking that she goes.”

Newt and Theseus Aren’t Typical Opposites

While the Brothers Scamander are clearly very different people, they’re never wholly at odds. Even in their most combative moments, their kinship is still clear — why else would Theseus hug Newt and warn him that the Ministry’s watching him? Turner worked to find the two characters’ similarities as much as their differences. “What was important was not to focus on that friction but to try and understand maybe why. You look at the facts: [Theseus] is very successful through the establishment, and wants Newt to join and fight the good fight in the way that he knows how and the way that he thinks best. Newt doesn’t want to do that.”

Theseus Scamander Crimes of Grindelwald

Turner wracked his brain trying to figure out why Theseus would be so desperate to get everyone close to him to join the Ministry, and found a simple answer: Protection. “[Theseus] wants to protect his brother, he wants him alongside him, he wants to [know] that his brother will be OK.”

The actor also found that it was easy to find similarities between the two characters, both from a character standpoint (they’re both “stubborn in their ideologies”) and from a personal perspective. Turner and Redmayne both grew up in the same London neighborhood, Chelsea, just a three-minute walk away from each other. “We had a lot of shared memories — like going to the same primetime to rent videos and going to the same swimming pool when we were kids,” Turner fondly recalled. “There’s something in that, an essence in the part of the world where we both grew up. It’s no coincidence that we’re now playing brothers.”

Pay Attention to the Tie Pins

To create visual similarities between Newt and Theseus, Turner collaborated with costume designer Colleen Atwood. You might notice that Theseus wears a lot of gray suits in the movie, and that’s an intentional nod to his character’s life choices.  Turner said, “You’re talking about someone who has conformed and is part of the system, and so we tried to find the color palette and what that might mean in terms of him blending in.”

Theseus Scamander Crimes of Grindelwald

But there are also subtle details and gentle nods that emphasize the brothers’ similarities. “We tried to find loads of little touches that would draw the brothers together, like little details in the pocket square, or the tie pin, or having the trousers a little shorter at the bottom, that would link the two together. There’s a panache to Newt, and to Theseus, too — but it’s subtle. He’s engaged to Zoë Kravitz, so he’s got to have some style.”

Dumbledore and Theseus Have an Unexplored Relationship

Tragically, Hot Theseus and Hot Dumbledore only share one quick scene during the movie. Dumbledore warns Theseus, his former student, not to try and break up any rallies that Grindelwald holds; that it’s a trap. Dumbledore ends the conversation by imploring Theseus, “If you ever trusted me…” but is cut off. It’s a quick scene and, at first glance, might come off as pure exposition — but there’s a hidden story in their exchange.

Theseus Scamander Crimes of Grindelwald

“Jude and I discussed that [scene] so we were on the same page,” Turner explained. The actors agreed that, at one point, Dumbledore acted as a mentor to Theseus, but the two drifted once he joined the Ministry. “I think Theseus has risen through the ranks very fast. He leaves people in the dust and can sightly burn some bridges. I think [Theseus] felt that once leaving Hogwarts, there were other people to inspire him and learn from — and I think that is the friction between them. Dumbledore, he’s a lone ranger, and Theseus has gone into the establishment. Dumbledore has a slight irk with the establishment — they always want to get Dumbledore. And now Theseus is part of that. So they can’t be in the same vein.”

However, the movie ended with the remains of Newt’s crew — Theseus included — returning to Hogwarts for shelter. And that might mean we get to see more of Theseus and Dumbledore’s dynamic in future films. “At the end of the movie, they’re all going to Hogwarts on a different playing field and that’s what’s interesting — they’re on a new journey. Theseus does have a lot of respect for Dumbledore, there’s a lot of love between them, he was his teacher.”