It’s now been confirmed that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will reveal the secret history of Nagini, Voldemort’s trusty serpent. After more than a year of silence, South Korean actress Claudia Kim has finally disclosed the name of her character; a circus performer named Nagini, whose story seems far more tragic than anyone had expected.
Warner Bros. previously revealed that Kim was playing a Maledictus witch, a sorceress whose blood was cursed and is destined to transform into a creature forever; it’s similar to an Animagus, except without the idea of free will. It didn’t take long for fans to theorize that she could actually be playing Nagini, given J.K. Rowling has previously been unusually enigmatic about the giant snake’s history.
Kim has finally confirmed that all the theories have been correct. Speaking to EW, she’s revealed that her character is indeed Nagini. She’ll be introduced as a member of the Circus Arcanus, where she’ll show off her transformations for Muggle audiences who think she’s just a circus performer. As Kim notes, this will be Nagini as she’s never been seen before. “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 carefully avoids explaining just how Nagini’s magic works. According to the actress, “she has powers that are yet to be explored,” although she does note that her character doesn’t have a wand. Nagini will befriend fellow outcast Credence Barebone, who’s fled to France after his powers as an Obscurus caused havoc in Manhattan. “It’s amazing these two broken souls are able to form some kind of friendship within the circus,” Kim notes. “Credence is special to her because he encourages her to use her power.”
It’s important to note that this version of Nagini could be a very different character to the malicious, vindictive and dangerous serpent seen in the Harry Potter films. As the books make clear, if a wizard spends too much time in their animal form then they lose themselves to it; presumably the fate of a Meldictus witch is that they are destined to be absorbed into an animal psyche. What’s more, in the Harry Potter movies Voldemort turned Nagini into one of his Horcruxes, implanting a portion of his own twisted and corrupt soul within Nagini. No doubt that turned the snake into a particularly savage beast, enhancing its monstrous appetites.
But which side will Nagini take in the war against Gellert Grindelwald? Will she choose to work with Dumbledore and Newt, or will she instead fight on behalf of Grindelwald’s cause? Whatever the case may be, the parallels between Voldemort and Grindelwald are growing increasingly significant. Both championed a similar vision of wizard rule, both led their armies with arcane symbols, both coveted the Elder Wand, and now both are somehow tied to Nagini. The Fantastic Beasts films may be set to end in 1945, well before Voldemort’s rise to power, but it’s clear that He Who Must Not Be Named drew a lot of inspiration from Grindelwald.