Ralph Fiennes has defended J.K. Rowling over her controversial stance on transgender rights.
Fiennes, who played the villainous Lord Voldemort across four Harry Potter films, told the New York Times that Rowling is not an “obscene, über-right-wing fascist,” when discussing her comments over transgender issues, and that she doesn’t deserve the “verbal abuse” that has been directed at her.
“The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling. I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, über-right-wing fascist,” Fiennes said in a weekend magazine interview. “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. Even though I’m not a woman.”
The controversy began in June 2020 when the author of the mega-popular Harry Potter books first tweeted about an op-ed piece regarding “people who menstruate” and mocked the story for not using the word “women.” The tweet generated backlash, which prompted the author to repeatedly and ever-more adamantly defend herself and elaborate on her views in a lengthy essay.
Fiennes, who has defended Rowling on earlier occasions, praised her Harry Potter franchise for giving a voice to young people. “J.K. Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being,” he said.
Several of his fellow Harry Potter castmates, including stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne, have issued statements in support of the trans community in response to the controversy. Rowling’s comments have also been condemned by a number of LGBTQ+ rights groups, including GLAAD, the Human Rights Coalition and The Trevor Project.
After speculation around her absence at the recent HBO Max reunion, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which aired early this year, Rowling said at the time it was her choice not to participate. “I thought it was about the films more than the books, you know, quite rightly,” she explained. “I mean, that was what the anniversary was about.”
This story originally appeared on HollywoodReporter