J.K. Rowling denies being ‘excluded’ from the Harry Potter 20th anniversary special

Nearly eight months after Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts debuted on HBO Max, J.K. Rowling addressed her absence from the special.

On January 1, Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and a slew of other castmembers, directors, and crew returned to the set of the magical franchise to reminisce on the makings of the films and reveal behind-the-scenes details. Meanwhile, the author of the Harry Potter series only appeared in old footage. 

While many assumed Rowling was asked not to return for the special due to her controversial tweets about the transgender community, Rowling says she chose not to participate. In a new interview with Graham Norton for Virgin Radio UK, she corrected the host when he mentioned she was “excluded” from the special. “I wasn’t, actually—I was asked to be on that, and I decided I didn’t want to do it,” she said, per Vanity Fair. “I thought it was about the films more than the books, you know? Quite rightly, as that is what the anniversary was about, so, no one said ‘don’t come.’”

When asked if she’s still in touch with any of the “young” Harry Potter actors, she replied, “yes, I do, some more than others, but that was always the case. Some I knew better than others.”


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In June 2020, many of the Harry Potter franchise stars released statements supporting the trans community following Rowling’s tweets disparaging gender-neutral medical language. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter for ten years, was the first to push back against Rowling’s comments in an essay for The Trevor Project.

“While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment,” he wrote at the time. “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”