One-On-One

Fantastic Beasts' Alison Sudol Is a Mind Reader IRL

We get philosophical with the actress before the film's release on Friday.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography:

Yesterday you met Katherine Waterston. Today you get Alison Sudol (a.k.a. recording artist A Fine Frenzy), who plays Waterstons sister Queenie in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

 

How it feels to join the world of Harry Potter:

“Its surreal. In order to make the film, in order to be in the moment and give an honest performance of a witch—or, a person who happens to be a witch—I had to play into that, which meant not constantly being overwhelmed by the size of it and living the actual story. I was in denial a little bit, and Im starting to feel like Im strapped to the front of a freight train, but in an incredible way. Ive spent years yearning for momentum—its a very difficult thing to obtain in a creative industry and now the momentum is definitely under way. Its incredible to be part of something that is so beloved by so many people. And in this film were talking about magic, and about the dangers and the fear of the other, and about acceptance and empathy—if youre going to be part of something thats going to be enormous, to be a part of something like this is like the best-case scenario.”

How she got into the role of Queenie and her ability to read minds:

“The qualities that really stood out to me about Queenie were her compassion and her warmth and how fun-loving she is—the whole movie shes basically just so excited to be on an adventure because her daily life is kind of disappointing. She’s finding friendship and love—even though its a complicated kind of love, its still really beautiful. I tried to focus on how I would be shaped if I was constantly receiving information about every single human being I encountered [by reading their mind]: their deepest secrets, their childhood, their thoughts, the things that they see in me, the things that they would never say, but I hear—how would that affect you as a person? On the one hand shes really outgoing and light, but on the other hand shes wise and deep and knows a lot about humanity. She hasnt let the many colors that she encounters in the spectrum of human emotion stick to her.”

 

Why we’re all really mind readers even without magical powers:

“Its a power that we all have, even if we dont really want it. We block ourselves off from it, but were all connected in the same experience. Its hard to care, but if you listen to people and pay attention, you get an idea of who they are and whats going on underneath the surface. You can’t think that person is a jerk or that youre so different than me because youre suddenly aware that everybody has their own story going on and their own pain and beauty.”

How the four of them came together as friends in real life:

“Even Eddie hasnt been a part of something like this before, so we were all bowled over together. Youre working really long hours with people for long periods of time and theyre all really great people, so we did develop a beautiful bond. Its so important to support the people around you—if one person falls, we all fall. Jo writes about that really beautifully: you are so much better off if you have real, true friendships, you are so much stronger than you are on your own. Thats a really important message, and also that outsiders can find a home with other outsiders.”

How she found Queenie in her costume:

“We did a ton of screen tests before I even got the role because I think the studio needed to see Queenie before they could totally sign off on somebody whod never been in a major movie like this. We found the wig quite early on, but I think that it was important to see all of the many ways that Queenie could be in order to see that we already had it at the beginning. The idea behind her hair was kid curls, like a toddler whos got wild hair thats barely contained. With her dress I wanted something that felt good because everything that Queenie does is sensual, so [costume designer] Colleen [Atwood] made this really simple dress that felt like a rose petal. Every time I put it on I felt feminine.”

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