‘The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting’: Actor Ralph Fiennes defends J.K. Rowling
Here is what Ralph Fiennes and other ‘Harry Potter’ cast members have said about the J.K. Rowling controversy
“Harry Potter” actor Ralph Fiennes has once again spoken out in defense of J.K. Rowling, claiming that the “abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling.” .
Once admired for authoring the wildly popular “Harry Potter” book series, Rowling has faced criticism in recent years over her commentary regarding transgender people.
In 2020, she was labeled by some as “transphobic” due to her tweets about transgender issues. Roughly a year later, Rowling revealed the degree of backlash she has faced over her commentary. “I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them,” she wrote in a tweet.
After a couple years of media silence, Rowling has made her way back into the news after the recent release of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.” The documentary podcast is hosted by Megan Phelps-Roper, and Rowling shares her own perspective throughout the podcast.
Once again, Rowling is experiencing backlash. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Maybe if we all stop talking about J.K. Rowling, she’ll just go away.”
Despite criticism and threats of getting “canceled,” Rowling has continued to share her opinions online.
Here is what Fiennes told The New York Times this week about the controversy surrounding Rowling and what other “Harry Potter” cast members have said about the famous author.
Ralph Fiennes defends J.K. Rowling — again
Fiennes, known for his role as Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” films, has come to Rowling’s defense once again.
“J.K. Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being. The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling,” Fiennes told The New York Times.
“I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, uber-right-wing fascist. It’s just a woman saying, ‘I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.’ And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman,” Fiennes continued.
The actor also expressed his dislike for cancel culture, saying, “Righteous anger is righteous, but often it becomes kind of dumb because it can’t work its way through the grey areas. It has no nuance.”
In an interview with The Telegraph last year, Fiennes said he “can’t understand the vitriol directed at her.”
“I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational. I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing,” he added.
What other “Harry Potter” actors have said about J.K. Rowling
Jim Broadbent, the actor behind Professor Horace Slughorn, shared his opinion on the J.K. Rowling becoming a controversial figure and the backlash she has faced.
“It’s really sad. I think J K Rowling is amazing. I haven’t had to confront it myself, but I would support her in that, I think, if it came to it,” Broadbent told the Telegraph.
Emma Watson, who starred as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films, shared her support for the transgender community online in 2020.
“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted.
Rupert Grint, the actor who portrayed Ron Weasley, told Esquire in 2021 that he is “hugely grateful” for Rowling despite having a different opinion than her.
“I am hugely grateful (for) everything that she’s done. I think that she’s extremely talented, and I mean, clearly, her works are genius,” Grint told Esquire. “But yeah, I think also you can have huge respect for someone and still disagree with things like that.”
He also told the London Times, “I don’t necessarily agree with everything my auntie says, but she’s still my auntie. It’s a tricky one.” (Grint is referring to Rowling as his auntie).
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the titular character in “Harry Potter,” has been outspoken regarding the Rowling controversy.
In 2020, Radcliffe published a letter about it on The Trevor Project’s website — an LGBTQ nonprofit organization.
“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the (“Harry Potter”) books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you,” Radcliffe wrote in his letter.
Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the movies, has also shared his opinion on Rowling’s commentary.
“I’m pro-choice, pro-discussion, pro-human rights across the board and pro-love. And anything that is not those things, I don’t really have much time for,” Felton told The Independent last year. “It is also a reminder that as much as Jo is the founder of (these) stories, she wasn’t part of the filmmaking process as much as some people might think. I think I only recall seeing her once or twice on set.”
Helena Bonham-Carter, an acclaimed actor known for her roles in “Harry Potter,” “Fight Club” and “Enola Holmes,” called the Rowling backlash “a load of bollocks.”
“I think she’s been hounded,” the actor told the London Times. “It’s been taken to the extreme, the judgmentalism of people. She’s allowed her opinion, particularly if she’s suffered abuse. Everybody carries their own history of trauma and forms their opinions from that trauma and you have to respect where people come from and their pain.”
“You don’t all have to agree on everything — that would be insane and boring. She’s not meaning it aggressively, she’s just saying something out of her own experience.”
Bonham-Carter also expressed her distaste for cancel culture. “You can’t ban people. I hate cancel culture. It has become quite hysterical and there’s kind of a witch hunt and a lack of understanding.”
Evanna Lynch, known for her role as Luna Lovegood in “Harry Potter,” describes Rowling as a person who advocates for “the most vulnerable members of society,” per The Telegraph.
“I do have compassion for both sides of the argument. I know what it was like to be a teenager who hated my body so much I wanted to crawl out of my skin, so I have great compassion for trans people and I don’t want to add to their pain,” Lynch told The Telegraph.
“I do also think it’s important that J.K. Rowling has been amplifying the voices of detransitioners. I had this impulse to go, ‘Let’s all just stop talking about it,’ and I think probably I’m a bit braver now about having uncomfortable conversations.”
She continued, “I just felt that her character has always been to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society. The problem is that there’s a disagreement over who’s the most vulnerable. I do wish people would just give her more grace and listen to her.”
Eddie Redmayne appeared as Newt in “Fantastic Beasts,” a “Harry Potter” spinoff series.
“As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand,” he wrote in a statement provided to Variety in June 2020.
“I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse,” Redmayne said. “They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”