EDDIE Redmayne has emerged as the surprise frontrunner to take the lead in Harry Potter spin-off movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The Oscar-winning actor is reportedly favourite to play 'magizoologist' Newt Scamander in the movie trilogy, but a few others including Nicholas Hoult are also being considered, Variety reports.
Novelist JK Rowling is having a heavy say in the making of the Warner Bros film and it will mark her screenwriting debut.
Based on a 42-page textbook set for Hogwarts pupils and published in 2001, Fantastic Beasts follows the adventures of Scamander, who dedicates his life to the search for magical creatures in an "extension" of Potter's fantastical world.
The release date for the first movie is slated for 18 November 2016, two days before the 15th anniversary of Rowling's first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The subsequent films are currently planned for 2018 and 2020.
Rowling revealed some details to fans last September: "The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films," she wrote. "But Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry's gets underway."
David Yates looks set to direct Fantastic Beasts after he helmed the final four of the eight Potter films. The franchise remains the most successful in history, having grossed a massive $7.7 billion in worldwide box office earnings.
Redmayne, meanwhile, recently finished filming The Danish Girl, in which he plays transgender artist Lili Elbe.
Based on David Ebershoff's fictionalised account of Elbe's life, the story follows Danish painter Einar Wegener's journey from posing in women's clothes for his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) after a model failed to show up, to becoming a woman.
Redmayne picked up the Best Actor gong at the Oscars in February for his acclaimed portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
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