'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them': A Timely Message of Tolerance

·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

In a time of deep cultural divisions, perhaps it will require a gaggle of fantastic beasts to bring us together. At the heart of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the new Harry Potter prequel that returns us to the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling, is a plea for tolerance in a strongly segregated era. By the time Harry Potter comes along, wizards and Muggles have found a way to peacefully co-exist. But back in Newt Scamander’s day in the 1920s, the non-magical — or “No-maj” — citizenry looked askance at those with special abilities. “In our film, segregation plays a really big part,” Fantastic Beasts star Colin Farrell tells Yahoo Movies in the clip above. “There’s a direct line of segregation between wizards and those with no magical capabilities.”

Related: ‘Fantastic Beasts’: Revisiting J.K. Rowling’s 2001 Book

That divide results in mutual distrust for both populations, as each side regards the other with suspicion. “At the heart of this film is this idea of how humans create ‘The Other’,” explains Ezra Miller, who plays a No-maj boy hiding a destructive secret. “The worst thing we do [as humans] is fail to recognize the self in ‘The Other’.” And the cast hopes that audiences come out of Fantastic Beasts looking to connect with other people. “My character is quite judgmental at the beginning of the film,” says Katherine Waterston, who plays stern Auror, Porpentina Goldstein. “Sometimes it’s a process to learn and understand people better. But you can change, which is a great message.”

Fantastic feasts and where to eat them: We try everything at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: