Fantastic Beasts 3: Why is Katherine Waterston barely in The Secrets of Dumbledore?

Katherine Waterston was seemingly meant to be one of the leads in the Harry Potter prequels, Fantastic Beasts. The new series kicked off in 2016 with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, fronted by Newt (Eddie Redmayne), Queenie (Alison Sudol), Jacob (Dan Fogler), and – of course – Waterston’s Tina. And yet, the character has been absent from Fantastic Beasts 3 marketing. What gives?

Things started to change with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Jude Law as a young Dumbledore, and the franchise morphed into something that was centered more on a brewing Wizarding World war than it was animal-related adventures. As other characters were added to the ensemble, and became more integral to the story, that initial quartet took a bit of a backseat.

Over the last few months, fans have taken to Twitter to voice their disappointment over the lack of Waterston’s Tina in the promotional material for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, in particular. She has not appeared in any of the UK or US trailers, and wasn’t one of the 18 character posters that were released prior to the film’s release. She was so absent, in fact, that many assumed she was not in the movie at all. Well, she is, but not much.

**Warning: spoilers for Fantastic Beasts 3 and Katherine Waterston’s role in the movie**

For most of the film, Tina appears only as a moving photograph inside the lid of Newt’s case, though she’s referenced a fair bit. Early on, Newt’s brother Theseus (Callum Turner) clunkily asks why Tina isn’t helping them take down Grindelwald. In response, Newt explains that she’s a little tied up at the moment after being promoted to Head Auror at MACUSA, the US equivalent of the Ministry of Magic.

An Auror’s job is to catch dark wizards, so it’s hard to imagine something being more pressing to Tina than seeing Grindelwald brought to justice – not to mention the fact that Grindelwald is essentially brainwashing her own sister, Queenie. That said, Newt and Dumbledore’s globe-trotting plan is highly likely to be in breach of MACUSA strict rules, so she might not have wanted to risk her new job by getting involved. Though it’s worth noting that Theseus is Head of the British Auror Office, and he’s keen to join the fight. 

Tina rocks up in person in The Secret of Dumbledore’s final scene, when she bumps into Newt outside of Queenie and Jacob’s wedding at the latter’s New York City bakery. Newt compliments her hair, pointing out that she’s styled it differently, and that’s all they really have time to talk about before Theseus and Eulalie ‘Lally’ Hicks (Jessica Williams) interrupt them and drag them inside.

So why was Waterston’s role cut down so much? Many fans have claimed that it was an intentional decision on screenwriter J. K. Rowling’s part after Waterston spoke out in support of trans rights around the time that Rowling’s ‘gender-critical’ views had been called into question.

In 2020, Waterston shared a Guardian article with the headline, “Trans women pose no threat to cis women, but we pose a threat to them if we make them outcasts.” On her Instagram story, she highlighted a section of the piece that read: “Sorry, you can’t be a feminist if you’re not for everyone’s human rights, notably other women’s human rights.”

“Because I was associated with Fantastic Beasts, it felt important to communicate my position,” Waterston later told The Independent (opens in new tab). “One wondered if they might be grouped in with other people’s views by association.” Rowling has since denied all accusations of transphobia.

However, the pandemic disrupted the movie’s production and that may very well have played a part in Tina’s small role. There’s also every chance that, due to several filming delays, Waterston’s schedule couldn’t allow for her to be involved more.

The new character Hicks, who seems to be a sort of stand-in for Tina in the film, was briefly introduced in The Secrets of Dumbledore’s predecessor Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. In 2019, it was announced that she would have a bigger part next time around, which was months before Waterston uploaded the aforementioned social media posts.

Considering Tina appeared right at the end of the new film, and will get married to Newt eventually, it seems likely that she’ll play a more significant role in the fourth installment. For now, fans will just have to re-watch the first movie if they want to ease their Newtina-related blues.

For more on Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, check out ours guides to the Fantastic Beasts 3 ending and when Fantastic Beasts 3 is on HBO Max.

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