JK Rowling spoke about her absence from the Harry Potter reunion special that aired earlier this year, revealing that she “was asked to do it and decided not to.” The Harry Potter author and fantastic beasts the screenwriter only appears via archived footage in the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special on HBO Max, which reunited the surviving cast of 2001 Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone. In a recent interview on Graham Norton’s radio show podcast, Rowling said she was not excluded from the special after some viewers wondered if she had been asked not to take part due to her controversial comments about transgender people.
“I was asked to be on it,” Rowling told Norton. “I decided I didn’t want to do it. I thought it was more about the movies than the books, rightly so.”
She added: “No one said, ‘Don’t come’. I was asked to do it and I decided not to.”
In January, EO reported that Warner Bros. Unscripted Television and Warner Horizon, which produced the special for HBO Max, invited Rowling to participate; the author reportedly declined because “his team determined that the writer’s archived comments were adequate”. The report added that Rowling’s remarks about trans people – which have been condemned by GLAAD, the Human Rights Coalition and The Trevor Project – “did not play a part in the team’s decision”.
When asked if she had a relationship with some of the “younger actors” in the eight-film saga, including the actors who “talked about you,” Rowling told Graham, “I have. Yes I do. I mean, some more than others, but that was always the case. You know, some I knew better than others.
Co-stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who all appear in the special, are among the alumni Harry Potter cast members who have expressed support for the trans community and publicly disagree with Rowling. In 2020, Radcliffe wrote an article for The Trevor Project condemning Rowling’s comments, writing in part:
I really hope you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books have taught you that love is the most powerful force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they have taught you that strength is found in diversity and that dogmatic ideas of purity lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; whether you believe a particular character is trans, non-binary, or gender fluid, or is gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any point in your life – then that’s between you and the book you’re reading, and that’s sacred. And in my opinion, no one can touch it. It means to you what it means to you, and I hope these comments don’t taint that too much.
The Harry Potter the reunion featured appearances by series cast members 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), Alphonse Cuaron (prisoner of azkaban), Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire), David Yates (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2, fantastic beasts) also appeared.
The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special is now streaming on HBO Max.