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  1. The Explainer
18 November 2021

Has JK Rowling been “banned” from a Harry Potter documentary?

Tabloids have reported that Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts will not feature interviews with the author of the original books.

By New Statesman

It’s 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first movie adaptation of a Harry Potter book, was released in cinemas worldwide, prompting plenty of nostalgic reflection from fans, and from the film’s cast and crew. A number of tabloids have reported that a HBO Max documentary, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which will air on New Year’s Day, will include new interviews with the original cast and production team, but not with the author of the books, JK Rowling. Why?

Why has JK Rowling not been interviewed for the documentary?

According to the Times, WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Max (as well as Warner Bros, which produced the Harry Potter movies), declined to say why Rowling was not participating in the programme. Rowling has not commented either. It is unclear whether Rowling was not asked to appear, or if she declined to participate. The documentary will focus on the 2001 film, not the books, and will feature archive footage of Rowling.

Why is this controversial?

Some outlets are suggesting that Rowling’s absence from the documentary is due to her stance on trans issues, which have caused some upset within the Harry Potter fan community. But as neither Warner nor Rowling have confirmed that this is the case, this as yet remains speculation.

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Who will be interviewed?

The special will feature the actors who played Harry, Ron and Hermione: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, as well as the director of the original 2001 movie, Chris Columbus. They will be joined by actors from across the eight-film franchise, including Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Imelda Staunton, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Ian Hart.

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“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” will air on HBO on 1 January 2022