Warner Bros backs JK Rowling after Harry Potter actor told not to discuss her

JK Rowling at the premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Warner Bros has backed JK Rowling after a PR tried to distance the author from its Harry Potter franchise.

Sky News reported that while interviewing Harry Potter actor Tom Felton at the Warner Brothers Studios Making of Harry Potter tour, its journalist was told he could not answer questions about JK Rowling’s ongoing involvement with the franchise.

According to Sky News, the third-party PR firm running the event later explained over email, on Monday (27 June): “JK Rowling is not connected to Warner or Tom Felton, the team felt it was not relevant to the piece.”

The outlet described it as an effort to “separate the art from the artist” in light of Rowling’s heavily-criticised statements on trans people.

Rowling notably was not interviewed for the recent Harry Potter cast reunion special, and her name was omitted from some materials promoting the latest film in her spin-off Fantastic Beasts franchise, sparking speculation that Warner Bros was trying to distance itself from her.

Warner Bros has since defended the author, however, stating that it is “proud” to work with “one of the world’s most accomplished storytellers”.

The film studio added in a statement to Sky News: “On Monday, a statement was issued by a third-party media agency that appeared contrary to this view.

“The statement was wholly wrong, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London regrets it happened as part of a media event that day.”

JK Rowling has faced criticism for her views on trans rights since 2019, when she came out in support of “gender critical” campaigner Maya Forstater.

In 2020, Rowling continued to voice her views, when she posted series of tweets on inclusive language for periods.

Rowling took issue with an article in Devex, a media platform for the global development community, with the headline: “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”

“‘People who menstruate’,” she wrote in response to the article. “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

The author followed this up in June 2020 with a lengthy “TERF Wars” essay, in which she laid out her opposition to “the current trans activism”, adding that we are “living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced.”

An international LGBT+ rights review has warned that rhetoric like Rowling’s is causing “significant damage” in the UK.

Last year’s report on ILGA-Europe’s equality index stated: “Anti-trans rhetoric continued to cause serious damage in the UK again this year. A prime example is repeated transphobic attacks by author JK Rowling, on Twitter and in her writing.”

The report continues: “Her statements have been harshly criticised by trans people, activists and writers. A growing number of celebrities, including from Harry Potter films, have spoken out in support of trans communities.

“Some trans people expressed their wish to leave the UK because of the growing hate.”

Rowling has repeatedly denied that she is transphobic.