“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” will be filled with, well, fantastic beasts. The movie, coming out in November, is a spinoff of the “Harry Potter” series. It takes place about 70 years earlier, in New York, and centres on Newt Scamander, a magizoologist played by Eddie Redmayne.
J.K. Rowling described most, if not all, of the magical creatures that will appear in the movie on Pottermore and in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” her 2001 book “written by” Scamander cataloging the magical animals he met on his journeys.
But the movie’s animators still had to come up with convincing designs for the movies. For inspiration, they turned to real-life animals. And as it goes when looking up animals on the internet, they found memes. Take the niffler, for example.
“One of the big inspirations was the honey badger,” Christian Manz, one of the movie’s visual effects supervisors, told Entertainment Weekly. “We saw some great footage of a honey badger raiding somebody’s house with a completely insatiable desire to find food — and nothing would get in its way.”
Some of you might know the honey badger from its fame as a meme. It all started with the viral video “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger,” of the animal participating in various badass in a National Geographic documentary while a voiceover discusses its badassery.
Since then, the animal itself has become a bona-fide meme, known for its quality of not giving a f—. As far as I can tell, the particular honey badger exploit Manz is referring to comes from this footage from The Daily Mail, of a crafty honey badger basically robbing a trash can.
Looking at a honey badger for inspiration for the niffler makes sense. In the book version of “Fantastic Beasts,” Scamander describes it as “fluffy, black and long-snouted.” It’s also known for being destructive when it’s searching for something — kind of like a honey badger.
Tim Burke, another visual-effects supervisor for the movie, told Entertainment Weekly that the magical animals had to be designed so that they could be mistaken for real-life ones. That’s how they could live among muggles for so long. To do so, they also mixed in qualities from a platypus.
“As a muggle, you would see this thing in the wild and think, ‘Oh it’s just a platypus,'” Burke said.
The niffler shows up in the original “Harry Potter” books, too. It first shows up in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” where Hagrid introduces him in his Care of Magical Creatures class as magical beings who have a predilection for anything glittery, like gold coins, and can be destructive when they pursue them. They’re also in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” where Lee Jordan levitates a couple into Professor Umbridge’s office, so they can tear it apart.
The nifflers, though, never made it onscreen in the “Harry Potter” movies. It looks like one will play a key role in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” as one of Newt Scamander’s beasts living in his magical briefcase.
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