Interview with Victoria Yeates

The Fantastic Beasts actress talks about her character, fashion and costume design, and hopes for the future of the franchise.

If you have seen Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (review here), you know just how indispensible (we like to say indomitable) Bunty Broadacre is.

We sat down with actress Victoria Yeates, who portrays Bunty in The Crimes of Grindelwald (review here) and The Secrets of Dumbledore, when she visited Les 4 Maisons in Liège and talked about her portrayal of the character, fashion and costume design, and hopes for the future of the franchise.

You’re very into fashion. Did you have a lot of imput when it came to Bunty’s looks?

No input at all. (Laughs) Colleen Atwood is a complete master at what she does. The costume was one of my favorite bits of doing these movies. The attention to detail is so exuisite. Even the linings, the way things are cut. The sleeves of my coat were all cut in a special way. Silk shirts. The hat was a reproduction of a 1930s hat she made. It’s absolutely incredible. I didn’t have any imput, it’s all in Colleen’s head. I don’t think anyone had any fashion imput, because Colleen is an Oscar winner, and she’s got the eye and you trust her.

And I think she really got it right. Because, you know, Bunty isn’t going to be a flashy dresser. But I liked that the costume was very 30s film noir-esque, spy undercover during the war. That’s what they went for. I thought it was really great. I want my coat. And my hat. (Laughs) I did like that coat.

And what was also amazing is that I was filming ’till I was 37 weeks pregnant. Obviously the coat is covering quite a bit, but on top of that they cut it on the base, so it basically kinda stretched with my bump. They also shaded it with spray paint to help hiding the baby bump, so you couldn’t see it. I’ve also used the suitcase to cover my little bump.

But, yeah, I was 37 weeks by the end, which is why the costume from the scene at the end, in Bhutan was perfect, you couldn’t see anything there. (Laughs) I felt like I was in Star Wars in that costume. One of the good guys in a Star Wars movie.

How much did you personally get to contribute to the character other than the portrayel of her itself?

Victoria Yeates
Victoria Yeates at Les 4 Maisons in Liège, Belgium (Bert Van den Wyngaert)

I spoke a lot to David Yates [the director]. Especially for the first movie [The Crimes of Grindelwald]. Because in that movie we were introducing Bunty, and the plan would be, when I signed the contract, was that her part would grow in the next movies. So that first film we had to really establish her. Therefore I spoke to him a lot on the phone. We got a back story from Jo [J.K. Rowling], and it was a lot of those conversations, so when I turned up on set I had somebody to portray who was kinda fully formed. Because then I was presenting her for another four movies.

And then for this film… Eddie [Redmayne, who portrays Newt Scamander] is very generous as an actor. We would talk a lot. As well as with David, just to make sure I wouldn’t come out of character. She’s very sort of understated and shy. And it was nice to have these moments where you saw that slight zaniness come out. Having that little bit of spark come out was important to me.

But, yeah, it was a very collaborative process and David Yates is a very active director. It’s all about character for him. It is amazing.

I think that’s why the series works so well, because the characters are so well-developed.

Exactly. It’s not about special effects, it’s about character. He’ll talk to you a lot. He’s very, very involved, it’s really great. He’s a lovely, lovely man.

You mention her being a little bit more subdued and shy, but Bunty’s outfit to Queenie and Jacob’s wedding looked pretty spectacular. Sadly, we only got to see mere glimpses of it. Could you please describe it for us?

I know, it’s so gorgeous! It was written in the script she would be wearing a gown covered with roses. So it was made out of this beautiful midnight blue velvet, with roses. There was also this incredible midnight blue coat. But I was quite pregnant then. (Chuckles) I was having to stand with my hands on my bump, so it was quite possibly, maybe, that you could just really see that I was pregnant, and that’s why you didn’t see more of the dress.

That dress also shows her transformation. She’s arrived in New York, she’s let Newt go. It’s a new life for her. At least a new part of her life. She’s blossoming, like the roses on her dress. I’ll try to find some photos of that dress to post on Instagram.

You mentioned the reproduction items of your costume. Did you do research into the fashion and history of the era?

I’ve read a lot of history books. I was going to study history at university. I took it as part of my A levels. I know a lot about both world wars. I also watched a lot of movies from the 30s. So I think it was all already part of me, really. Also a part of the movie takes place in Berlin, which has that 30s vibe. That was all very much in my mind. The nod to espionage from those movies.

Bunty Broadacre
Bunty Broadacre in The Secrets of Dumbledore

What I was going for with her is that secondary character who becomes the heroine. Who can achieve something no one else can. The truth is, if you want to be a spy, you have to be someone that no one would suspect. To achieve what she did in the end, she can’t be the flashy girl, because that girl is going to be seen. You know, if it was Lally [Hicks, another character in The Secrets of Dumbledore], people would know. But then Bunty would be somewhere, secretly in the corner, who could go and get into an office and get the info. She’d be the girl that would be secretly living in France. (Laughs) Cracking codes and sending secret messages. Definitely. She’d be very good at it.

Hopefully we’ll get to make another movie, because I’m interested to see where the little bits of her that have started coming out this movie will lead. There’s a lot more to uncover about the character. The different sides of her.

What are your hopes for Bunty should the two final Fantastic Beast movies get made?

I would like to see her a bit more rambunctous. There’s a deleted scene where she really tells off Teddy [Newt’s niffler]. I think that people often forget that she has a hard, physical job. She spends hours and hours each day looking after terrifying animals. And has to wrangle them. So there is a strenght to her. And her surname is Broadacre, so she definitely grew up on a farm. It’s a very, kind of, old English farm name. To be able to do what she does, she has that very strong side to her. I would like to see that come out.

She’s very stoic, very brave. But at the same time there is a real zaniness to her. Like when she tells Newt to take off his shirt in The Crimes of Grindelwald. That way she can suddenly come out with things the way she does. Just like in the scene in the store. (Smiles) I would like to see more of that, more of that comedy.

I would like to see her have a love interest. I really would like for her to have a love story of her own.

Bunty and the young niffers are obviously very keen of each other. But which is your personal favourite creature?

The quillin, after this movie. There was a line in the script that was cut where Dumbledore said he picked Bunty because she is like the quillin because she is pure of heart. I just adored that quillin. It was beautiful. And also what it represents as well. I don’t think I really got it when I first read the script. Not until I saw the movie. I didn’t know if people were going to connect with it but then I saw the movie and I was blown away by it. You know the scene where Grindelwald does the thing. (Makes a face to indicate it was a bad thing) When I first saw that in the movie, I grabbed Poppy, whom I was sat next to.

If you could spend one day with Bunty together, what would you guys get up to? Both in her era and yours.

In her era, I would go down to that basement and I would want to see all those animals for myself. And what I would like to do for Bunty is to take her shopping. Take her to some fabulous, beautiful store in London. To just get her out a bit, be a bit more flamboyant. You know, let your hair out. (Shakes head and smiles)

Maybe you picked up that dress for the wedding together.

(Laughs) Exactly! I think I would like to help her shine a bit more.

And then in the now I suppose I would take her to Regent’s Park Zoo. I think she’d love that. Take her to meet the handlers. I did that for The Crimes of Grindelwald. Take her to see the penguins and everything. All the baby penguins.

You’ve been traveling quite a lot recently. Is there anything you simply must do or see when you arrive at somewhere?

Gosh. What I like to do is to immediately go and find the the old town and find the cathedral. Because normally, that’s where you’ll see the beautiful streets and everything like that. Head to the river, the bridges and the town square. And then normally I can fan out from there.

Kind thanks to Stan Blistain of Les 4 Maisons for organizing the interview for Never Was.

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