“Wow, where the hell have I been?” That was Dan Fogler’s response when I told him we hadn’t seen one another since 2007 San Diego Comic-Con, when he was promoting the ping-pong comedy Balls of Fury.
It’s true — we haven’t seen that much of Fogler since a starring role in Fury opposite screen titan Christopher Walken. It’s not that Fogler has been a recluse. He has done some voice work (Kung Fu Panda, Free Birds), indie films (The Europa Report, Taking Woodstock), and loads of TV (Man Up, Secrets and Lies). But it feels like a long time since he was being hailed as “the new Jack Black.”
Last week, though, Fogler was in Las Vegas to stump for his newest movie role, and it’s aces: the hotly anticipated Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “I won the lottery, in case you didn’t notice,” Fogler, a self-proclaimed “huge Potterhead,” told Yahoo Movies with a laugh. “I just feel like I’m part of this franchise, this mega-monster, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s the best-case scenario. For any [actor], it’s the best-case scenario.”
The 39-year-old Brooklynite, who broke into Hollywood after winning a Tony for the Broadway musical-comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, plays Jacob Kowalski. The latest Beasts trailer promises he will get some hefty screen time as the war veteran/Muggle roommate of wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
Fantastic Beasts reverse-engineers a slice of Harry Potter mythology by tracing the origins of the titular textbook studied by Hogwarts students. We’ll follow the manuscript’s author, Scamander, as he journeys to New York City to hobnob with the American world of wizardry.
Fogler with costars Colin Farrell and Eddie Redmayne at CinemaCon (Getty)
Fogler said he didn’t communicate with any of the series’ original cast, since Fantastic Beasts takes place 70 years before the events of Potter; but he did get up-close-and-personal with their shared universe’s puppet master, author J.K. Rowling, who penned her first original screenplay for the film and was actively involved on set. “She told us about our characters, and the futures of our characters, and she really was great,” Fogler said. “She’s so passionate about it. She was really excited to share with us. She’s excited to share it with the world.”
The most memorable moments of his Fantastic experience, though, involved a couple of his veteran costars. “I got to work with Ron Perlman. I’ve been a fan of his forever, since he was Vincent on Beauty and the Beast,” said Fogler.
“And I didn’t get to work with him, but I got to hang out with Jon Voight. He was on set a lot… He was walking around like, 'Holy smokes, this is the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of.’ Him saying that just puts everything in perspective.”
So you could say Jon Voight also won the lottery.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens Nov. 18. Watch the trailer: