A brief Q & A with Alison Sudol, aka Queenie Goldstein.
Alison Sudol plays Queenie Goldstein in the latest JK Rowling offering, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, which opened in the UK on November 18th. In the midst of the whirlwind lead up to the film’s release, Alison took time out to answer a few questions about the film, about her role as a ‘goodwill ambassador’ for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and her recent participation in their World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.
Alison Sudol as Queenie in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk.
Q: The movie features a wonderful cast of ‘fantastic beasts’. Can you tell us which one is your favourite and why?
AS: I love all the beasts, each has their own distinct personality, but I have a special place in my heart for Frank*, the Thunderbird, whom Newt rescued from traffickers in Egypt. He is a magnificent, noble creature, and the bond he shares with Newt is particularly moving. Newt doesn’t want anything from him, or from any of his creatures. He only wants to ensure their well-being and safety, and loves them unconditionally. It’s a poignant example of someone honoring the intrinsic value of all life, great and small, bitey and beautiful, fanged and fearsome. Everything has a place in nature…(and in Newt’s case)
Q: In the movie, Newt Scamander and the fantastic beasts have to battle against some dark forces – in the real world of conservation, what (or who) do you consider to be the dark forces that we have to fight against if we want to protect the incredible species and ecosystems that are in peril?
AS: Apathy is a big one. It’s hard not to feel helpless when confronting the scale of the trouble the planet is in. It is tempting to feel that one person can’t possibly make a dent in the extinction crisis, the decline of ocean wildlife, mass deforestation, climate change, etc. I personally have had many bouts of sticking my head in the sand, silent, hoping that someone else will fix the problem so I don’t have to. But now, more than ever, especially with the sci-fi political climate we’re living in, and with situations like peaceful protestors being brutally attacked in Standing Rock trying to protect sacred lands, we cannot afford to be silent anymore. There’s nowhere to hide. If each and every one of us took on a bit of Newt’s spirit, and carried what we want to protect in the natural world with us, and fought for it when it was threatened, we would be able to shift the course we’re on towards a healthier, more sustainable future. We need to ask ourselves two simple questions 1) what do I love about nature? and 2) what can I do? No act is too small. Every little bit of energy towards change helps.
Q: You are a ‘goodwill ambassador’ for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and for some real fantastic beasts – the incredible array of species on our planet, large and small, beautiful and ugly, iconic and unknown. Can you tell us about the role the IUCN plays in the fight to protect endangered species, and also describe what your role as ambassador involves?
AS: The IUCN is a very powerful organisation, but most people, unless in the conservation world, don’t know about it. They are the largest and most diverse source of data in conservation, drawing from over 1,300 member organisations across the world. They advise the UN on the Red List, the comprehensive list of endangered species that is used globally to track the extinction crisis. They also advise the UN on World Heritage Sites, and collaborate with heads of state and governments around the world to come up with solutions for the most pressing issues the planet is facing. I am a Goodwill Ambassador for the IUCN because I believe in the organisation, and am able to shed a spotlight on what they’re doing for an audience they might not be able to reach otherwise. As someone who has a platform, I feel a responsibility to use it to do something good– I’m deeply concerned about the extinction crisis and I know many people are as well, but they don’t necessarily know what to do. Helping create awareness for both the problems and the work the IUCN is doing, and helping gather a global community to participate in the change are two areas in which I hope to be of service in the conservation world.
Q: At the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, you were lucky enough to have the chance to speak to E O Wilson, one of the world’s leading experts on biodiversity. He made the point that storytelling has always been fundamental to human beings but that now humanity needs to focus more on the wonderful real stories in nature. Do you think a film like fantastic beasts, with its almost believablecreatures can help people ‘tune in’ to the real amazing stories from the living world?
AS: I really hope so. We fall in love with these creatures, seeing them through Newt’s eyes. Ultimately, the only way anything ever changes is if you’re brave enough to let yourself feel. I hope that the film opens people’s hearts enough to let both JK Rowling’s beasts, and the real but no less magical creatures of our living world, in, so we care enough to fight to protect them while we still can.
*This is Frank the Thunderbird