The author behind the Harry Potter books did not join stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in HBO Max's Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, nor did she sit down for an interview to look back at adapting her franchise into the beloved films. Producers used archival footage of Rowling from 2019 instead, leading viewers to believe her absence stemmed from a public image marred by controversial remarks about the trans community.
Rowling reiterated that she was invited to participate during a radio interview with Graham Norton on Saturday, noting that she ultimately decided not to take part in it. "I was asked to be on that," she said. "I decided I didn't want to do it. I thought it was about the films more than the books, quite rightly." She added, "No one said, 'Don't.' I was asked to do it and I decided not to."
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images J.K. Rowling has addressed her absence from Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion special
As EW previously reported, Rowling was extended an invitation to participate in the special, but her team determined the archival footage of the author sufficed. Her remarks about the trans community and the controversy surrounding them did not play a part in the team's decision, sources close to the situation revealed ahead of the special's premiere in January.
Rowling has come under fire for remarks that have been deemed transphobic, sparking criticism for taking issue with the term "people who menstruate" and spreading ideology that has been linked to the TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) movement, which supports the notion that trans women are not women, among other controversies. Her comments have been condemned by LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD and The Trevor Project.
More pointedly, Harry Potter stars (Radcliffe, Watson, and Eddie Redmayne, who stars in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts) have come out in support of the trans community in the wake of Rowling's comments. The author told Norton she still has a relationship with the young actors. "I mean, some more than others, but that was always the case," Rowling said. "You know, some I knew better than others."
As for the special, Radcliffe and Co. were joined by former costars Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, James and Oliver Phelps, Alfred Enoch, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Mark Williams, Ian Hart, and Toby Jones. Franchise producer David Heyman and directors Chris Columbus (Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets), Alfonso Cuarón (Prisoner of Azkaban), Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire), and David Yates (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows 1 and 2) also participated.
Listen to Rowling's interview with Norton above.
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