How the “Harry Potter” reunion handles the JK Rowling controversy


When HBO announced their upcoming “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: ​​Return to Hogwarts” special reunion, the star-studded lineup didn’t include You-Know-Who.

In the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated program, airing on New Years Day on HBO Max, not a single teaser, trailer, or poster featured criticized “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling. in recent years for repeatedly voicing transgender counter-views.

Despite her absence from HBO’s marketing campaign, Rowling does appear in the special, however, which samples footage from a 2019 interview with her. Rowling’s archive clips are fleeting, representing less than 30 seconds of the nearly two-hour show.

An HBO spokesperson told The Times Rowling had been asked to do a new interview, but the producers felt the footage previously captured was adequate. HBO did not respond to requests for clarification as to whether Rowling declined the interview or filmed a new interview that the producers then decided to leave out of the special. The show’s executive producer, Casey Patterson, was unavailable for comment.

Rowling is also verified by the name of the filmmakers and cast members of “Harry Potter”, several of whom have spoken out against Rowling’s transphobic remarks in the past.

Of course, the most highlighted in the production are Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), all of whom have made statements supporting the trans community to berate Rowling’s comments.

“Transgender women are women,” Radcliffe said last year. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and runs counter to all advice given by professional health associations which have much more expertise on this subject than either. [Rowling] or I.”

“Trans people are who they claim to be and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they are not who they claim to be,” echoed Watson. “I want my trans followers to know that I … see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

No mention is made of the Rowling controversy in the special, which first switches to the British writer around the eight-minute mark and then again around a minute later. While discussing the challenge of casting the titular wizard, Rowling recalls feeling “panicked” because “we just couldn’t find Harry” – until Radcliffe arrived.

“It was very emotional, actually, to see this kid sitting there talking,” she said. “And I just thought, ‘Yeah, that’s him. Thank goodness we found him.

Rowling only reappears about 19 minutes later to describe the “breathtaking” experience of walking the Great Hall of Hogwarts on the set of the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.

Her final appearance comes near the end of the special, which sees the cast and creatives reflect on the franchise‘s enduring legacy.

“I found it to be an amazing world to be involved in,” she says. “And it’s a beautiful world.”

Although Rowling occupies little screen time during the special, “Jo” returns in conversations to her creative contributions to the films and the cultural impact of the “Harry Potter” books.

For example: “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets” director Chris Columbus talks about meeting Rowling to share his “vision” for the flagship film; Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) remembers Rowling personally reassuring her about the importance of her character; and Radcliffe reveals that only the late Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) was able to persuade Rowling to divulge the plot details of subsequent novels before their publication.

More than 20 years after the theatrical release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric has continued to fuel discourse on the artist’s separation from art – a concept that Radcliffe addressed by declaring his loyalty to the trans community last year:

“To all of the people who now feel that their experience with books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” he said.

“I really hope you don’t completely lose what was precious in these stories to you. … If you have found something in these stories that has touched you and has helped you at any point in your life, then it is between you and the book that you have read, and that is sacred. And in my opinion, no one can touch it.


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