Eddie Redmayne to lead cast of 'Harry Potter' spinoff

Oscar winner to play Newt Scamander in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything." Now he'll be playing a scientist of a different sort -- the British actor has been cast as "magizoologist" Newt Scamander in the "Harry Potter" spinoff film "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

The film, scheduled for release in November 2016, will be the first in a planned trilogy of movies based on J.K. Rowling's 2001 book of the same name. "Fantastic Beasts" purports to be a Hogwarts textbook written by Scamander, detailing dozens of magical creatures in the "Harry Potter" universe.

Rowling will make her screenwriting debut with the film, which will be directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four "Harry Potter" movies.

Greg Silverman of Warner Bros. Pictures announced the casting of Redmayne in a news release, writing: "Eddie Redmayne has emerged as one of today’s most extraordinarily talented and acclaimed actors. We are thrilled to welcome him into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, where we know he will deliver a remarkable performance as Newt Scamander, the central character in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'"

There's no word yet on which of Rowling's fantastic beasts will be featured in the film, but the menagerie likely won't include the "soul-sucking dementor wasp" -- a real insect recently discovered in Southeast Asia, and named after a creature from the "Harry Potter" books.

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