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Claudia Kim's role as Nagini in ‘Harry Potter’ spin-off sends Twitter abuzz

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, September 26, 2018  /  09:01 pm

The final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped on Tuesday, drawing a buzz online surrounding the casting for Nagini, known as Voldermort's Horcrux and pet snake in the Harry Potter series.

Claudia Kim, the South Korean actress behind the character, had kept her casting a secret until the latest trailer gave a glimpse of her transformation into the serpent familiar to fans of the Harry Potter series. 

Fantastic Beasts is the spin-off wizarding series set decades before Harry Potter's own time at Hogwarts. In the 'Beasts' era, Nagini is shown as a woman who can transform into a snake at will.

In the latest Warner Bros. film, Nagini is a member of the traveling Circus Arcanus, where she participates in transformation acts for Muggles. She is friends with fellow outcast Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who has his own issues with transformation, where he sometimes loses control of his magic with destructive repercussions. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Kim said the Beasts sequel takes place in 1927, where Nagini is depicted as someone who is far from the kind of villain that might be expected from a character who eventually kills Severus Snape. 

"It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini," Kim told EW. "You've only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she's a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being, and I think that's a wonderful contrast to the character." 

Kim further explained that due to Nagini's mysterious blood curse she knows that eventually she'll become a snake permanently. “She does feel sometimes it’s not controllable,” Kim says. “She is bound to [permanently] transform at some point to a beast, so she feels this pressure that the clock is ticking.” 

Careful not to reveal too much, the 33-year-old did not elaborate on whether or not Nagini could be a wizard. "She has powers that are yet to be explored," Kim says. "I can't confirm she has powers like wizards have. And she doesn't have a wand."

Read also: Wand-waving Johnny Depp appears as 'Fantastic Beasts' character

In a post shared on the Fantastic Beasts Twitter account @BeastsMovieUK, an image of Nagini is captioned with "The Maledictus: Aiding a Fugitive".

Digging into Harry Potter Wiki pages, Mashable reported that a Maledictus is a human with a blood curse who slowly transforms into an animal. 

Despite the movie showing Nagini having control over her transformation into a snake, a Maledictus actually differs from an Animagus, which is a wizard who turns into an animal at will. An Animagus can choose the animal to turn into. 

By the time fans first met the character in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Nagini is fully a snake.

When Rowling was asked on Twitter how long she had been holding onto the secret of Nagini's story, the author answered "Only for around twenty years."

In addition to the character's mysterious backstory, another point of discussion expressed by netizens is criticism over the fact that while there's another character of color in the series, Nagini turns into an animal and eventually into the Dark Lord's pet.

A tweet by Wei Ming Kam @weimingkam reads, "An East Asian woman can’t control her terrible powers and becomes a beast / murderous attack pet / magical container, then gets beheaded. Not a great f***ing look gang!!!!!!!" 

On the subject of representation, others have also pointed out the etymology of the character's name being closely tied to South Asian culture, while the character is not. Nagini is a Sanskrit name that describes a half-woman, half-snake creature from Indian mythology, while the word "Nagin" is Hindi and Urdu for snake. 

One of Rowling’s latest tweet, however, said “naga” was a snake-like mythical creature of Indonesian mythology, hence the name “Nagini”.

The upcoming film sees Eddie Redmayne return to his starring role as "magizoologist" Newt Scamander and Jude Law as a young Dumbledore, the headmaster of the Hogwarts boarding school, where Harry Potter and his friends learned to be wizards. 

They are set to face Johnny Depp's pale and disheveled villain Gellert Grindelwald. It is still unclear how Kim's and Miller's characters will factor into the war. (liz/mut)

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