WARNING: This post contains huge spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Proceed with caution.
Following the meteoric success of Harry Potter, the Fantastic Beasts film franchise is forging its own path by uncovering completely hidden depths of Wizarding World lore. While the first movie introduced us to a fresh set of magical characters with Newt Scamander, Tina and Queenie Goldstein, and Credence Barebone, The Crimes of Grindelwald is bringing us firmly back into familiar Potter territory.
The film boasts a return to Hogwarts, an unsettlingly handsome young Dumbledore, and Nagini’s (of Voldemort Horcrux fame) human origins. But one character’s name has long stood out as giving fans the potentially most juicy insight into the known Potter universe: Leta Lestrange. In the first movie, Leta was seen only in a photo inside Newt’s infamous trunk. But with Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta Lestrange became an integral character — and so did her family tree. But how exactly will she be related to Voldemort’s favourite Death Eater, Bellatrix Lestrange, and what did that big Lestrange family tree twist mean?
What Do We Know About Leta Lestrange?
In the first Fantastic Beasts film, New York witch Queenie used her Legilimency on Newt to deduce that Leta was a ‘taker’ in their relationship – which didn’t bode well for her character. However, Newt’s obvious fondness for her indicated that she was tragically misunderstood, like the animals he loves so much. In The Crimes of Grindelwald, she’s engaged to Theseus Scamander (Newt’s brother) but Newt obviously still holds a flame for her. Newt and Leta went to Hogwarts together, and shared a close friendship during their time there, both being social outcasts. For example, we know from the companion book to the first Fantastic Beasts that he protected her from getting expelled after she experimented on a student with a Jarvey, taking the blame – and punishment – himself.
Throughout much of The Crimes of Grindelwald, we’re lead to believe that Leta is Credence’s half-sister — and Credence’s true name is Corvus — both sharing the same father, but he was given up for adoption at an early age and shipped to New York for his own protection. That version of Credence’s heritage is shockingly disproven by the end of the film — we discover that during that journey to America, Leta swapped baby Corvus with another baby on the ship, inadvertently killing her real brother — but we can still see the Lestrange family tree sinisterly winding its way around the Fantastic Beasts series.
Leta proves herself a tragic heroine when her hidden guilt emerges over the course of Crimes of Grindelwald, and she eventually redeems herself by making the ultimate sacrifice: Protecting the Scamander brothers by submitting to Grindelwald’s lethal flames with a final “I love you.” However, another big question remains after she’s died: Did Leta share the same blood as Bellatrix?
Tracing the Lestrange Family Tree to Its Roots
Let’s take this back to the very beginning. The name ‘Lestrange’ echoes the French phrase “l’étrange,” which literally translated into “the strange one” — which gives you some idea of the unconventional ancestry we’re dealing with here — yet the Lestrange family is British. The Lestranges are one of the oldest pure-blood families in the Wizarding World, known for interbreeding with other pure-blood families just to keep their blood pure — a practice that makes it extremely difficult to trace their roots. In The Crimes of Grindelwald, we do get a glimpse of the oldest Corvus Bloodline, which leads directly to Leta Lestrange and her deceased half-brother, Corvus V. Per this family tree, the line seemingly dates further back than when records began.
We have no dates of birth for this branch of the family at all until Leta is born sometime between 1 September 1896 and 31 August 1897 (which fans have deduced based on what years she attended Hogwarts). However, one significant detail in the Corvus bloodline, which may lead us back to Bellatrix, is the pure-blood Rosier family. The Rosiers married into the Lestrange bloodline three generations before Leta was born, giving her Rosier blood. Another member of that same Rosier family, Druella Rosier, also married into a separate branch of the Lestrange family much later.
Druella became the mother of Narcissa Malfoy, Andromeda Tonks, and, that’s right, Bellatrix Black (who later, of course, became the Lestrange we all know and loathe). Incidentally, another member of the Rosier family, Vinda Rosier, appears in Crimes of Grindelwald as one of Grindelwald’s followers. Yet, mysteriously, she doesn’t appear in the branch of the family connected to the Lestranges. Keeping up? If you are, then you must be a wizard.
Turning the Lestrange Blood Black
The second and possibly more familiar branch of the Lestrange family tree is the Radolphus bloodline, which we know begins around the turn of the 19th century. Radolphus Lestrange was a wizard who, from 1835 to 1841, served as Minister for Magic of Britain and Ireland. It’s not until three generations later that Bellatrix finally enters the Lestrange picture by marriage. Bellatrix Black married Radolphus’ great-great grandson, Death Eater Rodolphus Lestrange, by 1971, bringing together the houses of Lestrange, Black, and Rosier (remember them?). So, in short, Bellatrix doesn’t technically have true Lestrange blood – though she certainly lives up to the ‘l’étrange’ description.
Connecting the Branches
With two disparate family trees, do we have any hope at all of connecting the branches? Well, Zoë Kravitz, the actress playing Leta Lestrange in The Crimes of Grindelwald, may have the answer. In an interview with The Independent, she claimed, “I play Helena Bonham Carter’s great-great- aunt.” This gives us some clues: Leta is three generations away from Bellatrix, which should place her in the same generation as Radolphus Lestrange, and could leave room for their meeting at some point in the Fantastic Beasts series. This, in turn, could provide the crucial overlap we need to connect the two Lestrange family branches.
However, if you refer back to the dates in the family trees, Leta was born over 50 years after Radolphus served as Minister for Magic, which throws a Niffler in the works. On a hopeful note, we do have to remember that wizards have much longer life expectancies than muggles, so generations could overlap in magical ways that would seem impossible in our world.
Leta Might Be the Most Important Lestrange Yet
It seems the Lestrange family tree is just as dark and mysterious as the characters within it. However, for Kravitz to confidently say she’s Bellatrix’s great-great-aunt, the branches must reconnect somewhere along the line in a way we don’t know yet — and we’ll likely find out just how during the next three movies.
We suspect either an unknown relative of Leta is likely to have married back into the Rosier family during the time Radolphus Lestrange was alive, forging the family connection long before Bellatrix ever came along, and making her more of a Lestrange than we ever knew. Or perhaps the mysterious Vinda Rosier will hold the key. If this plays out during any of the next three Fantastic Beasts movies, our muggle hearts will be satisfied. In the meantime, only one thing’s for sure: Pure-blood wizarding families are complicated.