Mere days after Ralph Fiennes defended author J.K. Rowling in The New York Times, his co-star in the “Harry Potter” franchise is taking a different tactic. In a new interview, Daniel Radcliffe, who starred as Harry in the film adaptions of Rowling’s books, condemned the comments of Rowling, who has expressed increasingly vehement transphobic views. He joins fellow cast member Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, in distancing himself from Rowling — and in trying to separate the creator from the creation.

Two years ago, Radcliffe published an open letter on the Trevor Project website where he stated bluntly: “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 [Rowling] or I.” Radcliffe has been a supporter of the Trevor Project, a nonprofit which focuses on suicide prevention for queer youth, for over 10 years. 

In an interview with IndieWire, Radcliffe said the reason he believed “very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing ‘Potter,’ I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter … seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way.”

Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the series, said in a 2020 statement, “I firmly stand with the trans community,” while Emma Watson (Hermione) expressed her support on Twitter: “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

Fiennes, who portrayed the villain Voldemort in the films, said in a recent interview that the criticism directed at Rowling was “disgusting, it’s appalling” and paradoxically described her as “not some obscene, über-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.” 

But other actors like Felton seek to distance themselves even further, downplaying Rowling’s hand in the films. “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,” Felton, who has a new memoir out, said in an interview with The Independent, where he called himself, “pro-choice, pro-discussion, pro-human rights across the board and pro-love.”

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Radcliffe, who stars as the title character in the new “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” told IndieWire, “I don’t think I would’ve been able to look myself in the mirror had I not said anything” about trans rights. As for what Rowling might be thinking to double-down on her stance? The “Harry Potter” star said, “it’s not mine to guess what’s going on in someone else’s head.”

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Alison Stine

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