Claudia Kim's character in the new Fantastic Beasts movie is one of the most talked about aspects of the new film. She will play Nagini, a character seen only as a snake in the original run of Harry Potter movies that will have a human form in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The actress says that the fact that she's playing a character that is part human and part snake led to some interesting direction on the set of the new film. Kim needed to bring some aspects of the snake into her own performance, but exactly how much snake she needed to bring was quite specific. According to Kim.
I would act with Ezra and while we were doing the scene I would get directions like, 'Can you do 2 percent more snake? Or: 'Five percent more snake.' So that was challenging.
In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Claudia Kim plays a woman suffering from a blood curse. She has the ability to transform into a snake and is using the ability to make a living as a circus performer. However, the two aspects of the character are not entirely separate and Kim needed to bring aspects of the snake into her own performance as well. She actually worked with a contortionist in order to bring the physicality necessary to be a snake.
While one could certainly understand director David Yates asking Claudia Kim to bring more or less snake into the performance, he apparently took things a step further than that. I'm not sure what the difference is between 2% or 5% more snake would be, and it sounds like Kim didn't either, though it sounds like she eventually figured it out.
It may be that David Yates' specific requests of Kim were born from the fact that he knew she was the right actress to play Nagini from very early on. He tells Entertainment Weekly that her performance was more moving than any of the others. Perhaps if he knew she was capable of this, he felt she could also perfect her snake performance. According to Yates...
The initial audition for all of the actresses who read for Nagini involved delivering a moving scene written by Jo about succumbing to a blood curse. Claudia read it in a more moving way than anyone else. She had a dignity, strength and a vulnerability.
The initial revelation that Claudia Kim was playing Nagini was met with some skepticism from fans who felt that making the subservient Nagini a Korean woman, seemingly after the fact, was the wrong way to increase diversity in the Wizarding World. Though, as she frequently does, J.K. Rowling has disagreed with that assessment quite publicly.
It sounds like, whatever your thoughts on Nagini's backstory, Claudia Kim has given it her all to bring the character to life for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. We'll see just how much snake she brought to the role next month.