JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the global box office and a large part of that is due to 31-year-old actress Alison Sudol.
Sudol, from Seattle in the United States, is the breakout star of the blockbuster film, playing the bedazzling, mind-reading witch Queenie Goldstein.
Despite having only a handful of prior screen credits, Sudol manages to hold her own – occasionally even outshine – Oscar-winning lead actor Eddie Redmayne and his impressive collection of animated animals.
The younger sister of the film’s female lead Porpentina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston), Queenie is a powerful Legilimens, meaning she is able to read people’s minds without even trying.
Harry Potter fans will be familiar with another accomplished Legilimens – the dark Lord Voldemort, one of the greatest villains in literary history.
But Queenie prefers to use her powers for good, showing an unabashed enthusiasm for life, a strong sense of empathy and a powerful feminine energy, all of which quickly seduce non-wizard character (or “no-maj”) Jacob Kowalski.
And according to social media reaction to the film, audiences are also not immune to Queenie’s charms.
Biggest surprise is the whole movie is handily stolen by its least famous cast member, instant movie star Alison Sudol.
— Mac Rogers (@macwrites) November 13, 2016
queenie goldstein has stolen my heart pic.twitter.com/8E6O3HC1N8
— fantastic hannah (@alexdanverse) November 20, 2016
— Miriam Salzman (@mnsalz91) November 13, 2016
Sudol portrays Queenie’s unique energy perfectly, revealing to The Hollywood Reporter she took Rowling’s original idea for the character into her own hands.
“When I was first auditioning, Queenie was a traditional bombshell,” she explained.
“I definitely never would have gotten the role if that remained the main focus because I never saw myself as that.
“She’s soft and nurturing, and we need more female characters like that to show young women you can be feminine and that actually can be a strength.”
A photo posted by alison sudol (@alisonsudol) on
The daughter of two acting teachers, Sudol had her breakout role just last year in the critically-acclaimed Amazon series Transparent.
But prior to embracing acting, Sudol was actually better known as singer.
Performing under the stage name A Fine Frenzy, she wrote and sang folky, acoustic ballads through the early 2000s.
Watch Alison Sudol perform as A Fine Frenzy
After three albums, she announced she would retire the name A Fine Frenzy and took a hiatus from music.
She’s since revealed she recorded an entire album while filming Fantastic Beasts, so a return to the music scene is imminent.
That’s not Sudol’s only talent – she paints watercolours, she’s in the process of writing her own series of fantasy novels and she’s a Goodwill Ambassador for the Conservation of Nature.
Watch this space.