The Niffler In 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them' Steals The Show... And A Few Pieces Of Jewelry
I have no doubt that watching Eddie Redmayne play the slightly clueless, animal-loving wizard Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be one of the highlights of my November. Fellow Harry Potter fans know what I'm talking about. But, what if I told you that Newt and his friends, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob, are all upstaged by one CGI creature (or, in this case, beast)? The Niffler in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them steals the show, and is very quickly going to become everyone's favorite magical creature. (Not to mention the marketing Fantastic Beasts is sure to get out of the mischievous creature.)
The Niffler is just one of the many creatures that escapes from Scamander's case of magical creatures in New York City, but he is most definitely the cutest. First things first: what is a Niffler? Based on the trailers, a Niffler is a small, Guinea pig-sized creature covered in black, fluffy fur with a long, rounded snout. According to Scamander's book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them via Pottermore, the Niffler is a "British beast" which "has a predilection for anything glittery." In fact, Nifflers love sparkly things so much, they are commonly used by goblins to "burrow deep into the earth for treasure." In the film, Newt's Niffler, in particular, is always on the hunt for anything that sparkles, be it jewelry, coins, or whatever catches the sunlight.
When left to its own devices, the Niffler can be quite a menace as it is always going after shinny things. But, according to Scamander's book, Nifflers are also somewhat cuddly, "gentle and even affectionate." It makes sense, then, that Scamander carries one around with him. Throughout the film, the Niffler is constantly escaping and getting into trouble, but Scamander still loves him. And that will surely make audiences love him too. I mean, who doesn't want a fluffy little creature who loves sparkly things and is constantly wreaking havoc while also being adorable? Raise your hand if you want a Niffler!
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a Niffler. In fact, the Niffler in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is completely CGI, but it is based on real life animals. Visual effects supervisor Christian Manz told Entertainment Weekly that the Niffler was most closely based on the honey badger, saying, "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." Furthermore, Redmayne revealed in an interview with The New York Times that some of the interactions between Newt and the Niffler were based on a relationship he witnessed between a zoologist and a baby anteater. "It would curl up into a little ball, and in order to make it relax, she would tickle his little belly," Redmayne told NYT. It's a technique Newt uses in the film to get the Niffler to give up his gold treasure, which he hides in a magical pouch on his belly.
I don't know about you, but I could really use a Niffler to tickle, even if I have to give it all of my jewelry first.