Since the latter half of 2019, JK Rowling has been attracting the ire of celebrities, activist groups, and ardent fans of her Harry Potter novels because of her controversial opinions on transgender people and what rights they should or should not have. And as she continues to openly air her views and stands by them, WarnerMedia has quietly made the decision to not add the creator of the Wizarding World to Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, the recently announced 20th-anniversary retrospective that will air on HBO Max.
After the initial announcement of the retrospective, WarnerMedia has revealed (via The Hollywood Reporter) the full list of who will be participating in the same. The main focus will obviously be the golden trio– Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson— along with Chris Columbus who directed the first two Harry Potter films and produced the third. The retrospective will also include Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Imelda Staunton, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, and Ian Hart. Yep, almost all the cast and other important members are going to be there…well, everyone except JK Rowling.
THR has reported that the only way the retrospective will include the celebrated author is through archival footage. WarnerMedia has not made even a single mention of JK Rowling in its announcement or provided the reason for her absence. But it is easy to deduce that WarnerMedia is keeping its distance from the constant backlash Rowling has been facing because of her comments that have been viewed as transphobic by many.
In 2020, JK Rowling took to Twitter to criticize the gender-inclusive phrase “people who menstruate” and stated that “if sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.” While many have come out in her favor, most of the celebrities associated with the Harry Potter franchise, including the original cast, have openly expressed their disappointment with JK Rowling’s stand on the topic.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the titular character in the Harry Potter films, penned a heartfelt short essay to extend his support to trans women and implored fans of the books to not let their experience be “tarnished” or “diminished” by JK Rowling’s opinions. He stressed that “transgender women are women,” adding that transgender and non-binary people need “more support.” And anyone who denies them their basic rights “erases the identity and dignity of transgender people”.
Harry Potter star Rupert Grint also extended his support to the transgender community in a statement to The Times and stated that everyone is “entitled to live with love and without judgment.” After him, Melissa Anelli, the editor of the biggest Harry Potter fansite, The Leaky Cauldron site, shared with Telegraph, that she was “heartbroken” by JK Rowling’s comments. She even shared a post from a Harry Potter podcast on how to cancel the author by not buying any of her books, official merchandise, etc. Like their fellow co-stars, Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them), Katie Leung, Evanna Lynch, and Cursed Child actor Noma Dumezweni also came out in support of the transgender community and expressed their disagreement with Rowling’s comments.
Thankfully, the controversies JK Rowling continues to be embroiled in have not lessened the enthusiasm fans have for the Wizarding World. Thus, despite her absence, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts will be a big event for avid fans of the franchise. The retrospective is set to stream on January 1 on HBO Max,