Is ‘Nagini’ the Name of the Maledictus in ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’? ‘Nagini Gaunt’?

Wayne asked me on the ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ Ensemble Cast Photo post thread:

So, John, you’re suggesting that this Maledictus in this film becomes full-time snake and then animal familiar/horcrux for Voldemort about 70 years later. Did I get that right?

Great question, Wayne!

The ‘Nagini’ theory about the Beasts2 Maledictus is a fandom theory you can track down via this link that was also in the post. We were told months ago that the Claudia Kim character was a performer in the Circus Arcanus troupe.

It also sounds as if a wizarding circus will play a significant part in the plot: South Korean actress Claudia Kim has been cast as a young woman who stars in the circus as one of the attractions, while Ólafur Darri Ólafsson plays Skender, the circus boss.

The only character we know about in the Circus (from a poster) that are an obvious match with Kim is “the Enchanting Snake Girl.” Someone in global fandom, I do not know who, when it was announced last Thursday that Kim’s role was playing “a Maledictus, the carrier of a blood curse that destines her ultimately to transform into a beast,” posted a theory that the Maledictus is Nagini.

There are three steps from the information we have and that conclusion. What we know is:

  • Kim’s character is a performer in the circus;
  • There is an act in the circus according to the poster called ‘the Enchanting Snake Girl;’
  • Kim’s character is a Maledictus who is cursed to become a beast.

To get from that information to ‘Kim’s character is Nagini,’ you have to connect these dots:

  • The act Kim’s character plays is the Enchanting Snake Girl;
  • The beast this Maledictus is cursed to become is a magical snake; and
  • This magical snake is the snake who becomes Lord Voldemort’s familiar.

Which is quite a collection of jumps. I think the Nagini theory has legs for these reasons:

(1) The back story is that the Maledictus is turning into a beast, not as an Animagus does, but involuntarily, progressively, and irreversibly. It’s a curse, right? The Maledictus back-story doesn’t mean, of course, that this one turns into a snake or that this snake is Nagini, but it does mean she becomes a Fantastic Beast of some kind. Making the leap from Enchanted Snake Girl to Maledictus serpent was simplified by the anguine patterns on the character’s hose or legs in the Ensemble Cast picture. How many snakes with unusual intelligence do we know? 

(2) All the characters in the film have been given names — except the Maledictus. That suggests the name would be meaningful and a give-away to viewers. What other meaningful snake names do we know?

(3) Voldemort had a relationship with his familiar, Nagini, that was as creepy as everything else about the Dark Lord. That his pet was a Maledictus, i.e., formerly a person and a woman, seems consistent with his All Creepiness.

About Wayne’s implied objection that 70 years seems a long time for a snake to enjoy vitality, all I’ve got is that I don’t know anything about the longevity of Maledicti or Fantastic Serpents.

Is the Maledictus definitely our friend and Lord Thingy’s familiar, Nagini?

No, it’s a speculative theory. I call her ‘Nagini’ in this piece for lack of a name and to stir the pot. All we know for sure is that we’ll know in a year. If the Maledictus is not Nagini, hat’s off to Rowling or the Warner Brothers publicist who thought to leave her unnamed. That’s marketing genius.

On another HogPro post comment thread, a serious reader posted a link to a YouTube video which argues that the Maledictus is Merope Gaunt.

I have not watched the video. I think it’s fair to say, though, with some confidence that the Maledictus is not Merope Gaunt. Prof Louise Freeman told me that, by her calculations and timeline, the Dark Lord was born in the year of the first Fantastic Beasts film. Unless DumbleDore was lying to Harry in Prince about her back-story and her death after child-birth, Merope-Maledictus is just not possible.

I do like the Gaunt family connection, however, as an alternative to Maledictus-Nagini.

There’s the meaty irony, for one thing, of a Pure Blood family of Dark Wizards producing a Maledictus as off-spring (a Parseltongue magical-gene mutation? a Slytherin birth defect?). That’s right up Rowling’s alley about the devolution of aristocratic families into decadent, even evil character (see this connection between the Gaunt family and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair for some literary allusion intertextual fun). The corruption of the best is the worst, etc.

And the Gaunt name is as good an explanation as Nagini for why the studio would keep her name under wraps for now. Gaunt is the Dark Lord’s family name on his mother’s side and his connection with Salazar Slytherin, legendary Parseltongue. If the Maledictus is not Nagini, I think a Merope-cousin in the Salazar family line with the Gaunt name would explain why she is anonymous thus far.

Or how about, instead of an alternative to Nagini, the Gaunt family option being an additional element? What if her name is Nagini Gaunt? That would make the Dark Lord’s Familiar into family. Which man-snake relationship borders somehow on incest, perhaps the only ick factor and taboo the Dark Lord has not yet invoked or violated.

Yes, I know the Gaunts are old Anglo-Norman Pure Bloods not likely to produce a child, even an X-Men Maledictus, who has Asian facial features.  But still… imagine hearing her name in the theater, say, Credence introducing his friend to Tina. Chills, right?

So those are my three best guesses a year out from the movie release:

  • she is Maledictus-Nagini as the popular fan theory has it
  • or a Gaunt Family Maledictus-Mutant or, most distressing,
  • the family-familiar cousin, Nagini Gaunt.

Let me know what I’m missing in the comment boxes below!


  1. Kelly Loomis says

    Looking forward to the reveal and hoping Ezra doesn’t accidentally spill the beans like he did with Graves/Grindelwald in a pre movie press tour interview.

  2. waynestauffer says

    Thanks, John for the quick, and late-night response. Don’t you get time to sleep? 😎

    I wasn’t really objecting to the suggestion of a 70-year delay in Nagini becoming Voldemort’s horcrux, just trying to confirm the assertion. I have no problem with extended lifespans in magical worlds…I mean, Strider/Aragorn in LOTR appeared as other men in Middle Earth, yet he was of a different race that had extended lives in comparison to the Stewards of Gondor…

    Like Kelly, I’m looking forward to the reveal and to seeing how many more lines of connection to Harry’s timeline the FB series will have: Newt the textbook author-check; elder wand-check; reference to Dumbledore/Grindelwald duel-check; origins of Nagini-check…

  3. You should watch the video. 🙂 The timeline fits – Merope will give birth to Voldemort quite soon after the second movie starts. We can not see from the picture whether the Maledictus is pregnant or not, as she is sitting in a way that would conceal a baby bump.

    Having someone from the Gaunts involved in the whole Deathly Hallows seeking would of course be really neat, especially if there is a choice about whether to give Grindelwald the location of the resurrection stone (which is in possession of the Gaunts at the time the movies take place). Credence could be the person having to make that choice. Considering the title font (in which we can find all the hallows), I assume the next movie will deal with the hallows in some way.

    Anyway, this is all postulation. But it’s so much fun!

  4. Louise Freeman says

    If Merope gives birth quite soon after the next movie starts, she will presumably be dead and not able to contribute much to the next movie. Which would make it odd to put her in the picture as a major character.

    In December 1926, Merope Gaunt was despondent with grief for her unrequited love, so impoverished she had to sell her last possession (the Slytherin locket), quite ill and unable to perform magic that could have saved her life, and desperate enough to seek help at a seedy Muggle orphanage. None of that seems to fit well with “circus performer.”

    The woman in the picture looks very affectionate, almost seductive towards Credence, and healthy. There is no evidence of despair. Fantastic Beasts I took place in December 1926, only about 3 weeks before Merope’s death. I don’t think the young Mr. Barebones we met was in any shape emotionally to console a grief-stricken woman.

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Do we know anything that positively excludes the possibility that Merope Gaunt was pregnant with twins? (Shades of Star Wars! – ?)

    Or, more wildly yet, do we know anything that positively excludes the possibility that Merope Gaunt presents an instance of uterus didelphys, such that instead of sharing a womb with his sister, Tom had a (somewhat older) half-sister in an adjoining womb, perhaps fathered by a Korean* wizard whose acquaintance we have not yet made? (Shades of some accounts of the conception of Merlin – with various differences?)

    *Through a fair bit of motion picture history, Koreans have also been cast as Chinese and Japanese people – and, recalling C.S. Lewis noting that “In the fourteenth century the family of Lusignan boasted a water-spirit among their ancesstresses”, it is possible that Claudia Kim is playing the daughter of a member of another rational species capable of fertile intercourse with humans.

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Hmm… To save my wild speculations, must I conjecture, for example, that my postulated beings must mature with astonishing rapidity (even when half-human), or, that Claudia Kim is playing the Aunt of Tom’s half-sister? (Shades of Morgan Le Fay in some versions of the Matter of Britain?)

  7. waynestauffer says

    sorry, but the speculation on the Maledictus turning out to be Merope Gaunt is stretching credulity past the breaking point.

  8. Kelly Loomis says

    A further development of this theory with some information on the name origins.

  9. OMG! Turns out you were spot on!

  10. So far only the Nagini connection has been made in the trailer. I’ll take some credit for thinking that the fan theory was correct despite the jumps it required but it wasn’t an original piece of guesswork on my part.

    If we find out that Nagini’s last name is Gaunt, however, I’ll be looking for that oak leaf cluster for my Order of Nostradamus medal.

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