Why J.K. Rowling didn't join the Harry Potter reunion for the Return to Hogwarts special

Most of the main players from the Harry Potter franchise reunited for HBO Max's upcoming 20th anniversary special, Return to Hogwarts — with one notable absence.

J.K. Rowling, the creator and author of the massively popular Harry Potter books, did not join Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, nor did she sit down for a new interview to reminisce about adapting the eight movies inspired by the books. Instead, the producers of Return to Hogwarts used archival footage of Rowling from 2019.

An invitation was extended to Rowling to participate, but her team determined the archived comments from the writer were adequate, EW has learned.

Sources close to the situation say Rowling's statements about trans people and the controversy swirling around them did not play a part in the team's decision.

Related video: J.K. Rowling faced backlash after posting transphobic tweets

Rowling remains a polarizing figure. She stated in the past that she's not transphobic and expressed "trans lives matter" and "trans rights are human rights," but she has spread ideology and rhetoric over the years that have been linked to the TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) movement, which often supports the position that trans women are not women.

LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD and the Trevor Project, have condemned such speech. Various Harry Potter actors including Radcliffe, Watson, and Eddie Redmayne (the star of the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs) have come out in support of the trans community. Meanwhile, multiple Harry Potter sites that have become community builders for its fanbase have distanced themselves from Rowling in light of the views she has expressed.

While Rowling appears in Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, the archival footage of her is used sparingly.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts

Nick Wall 'Harry Potter' stars gather for the 'Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts' reunion special on HBO Max.

Among those who participated in the reunion are 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 both Deathly Hallows films).

In the special, Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint are accompanied by their 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.

A representative for Rowling declined to comment.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts begins streaming on HBO Max at 12 a.m. PT on Saturday.

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