Harry Potter actor Ralph Fiennes says he “can’t understand” hatred directed at J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter actor Ralph Fiennes says he “can’t understand” hatred directed at J.K. Rowling
AP Photo/Laura Lean
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Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has found a defender in one of the stars of the movies, Ralph Fiennes, who played the series’ villain Lord Voldemort. The actor defended ongoing accusations of transphobia against the author and blasted cancel culture in the arts.

In a Tuesday interview with the Telegraph, Fiennes ripped into the “disturbing” efforts to attack and cancel anyone over politics and opinions, which have become part and parcel of the social media landscape in recent years. Rowling in particular has become a focal point of aggression from the woke community of social justice warriors over her view that a person’s sex is determined by biology.

“I can’t understand the vitriol directed at her,” Fiennes stated. “I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational. I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing."

Fiennes, well known for his roles in movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel and The English Patient, described the emerging trend of canceling classical plays because they do not touch upon woke talking points, or do so in a way offensive to contemporary sensibilities. 

“I get worried if it’s decided that certain classical plays are irrelevant,” Fiennes added. “I think often there’s a superficial reading – Restoration drama is ‘colonialist, hierarchical, quasi racist’. But they’re just plays. You can turn them on their head. The danger is of labelling stuff. These texts are there – so pull the humanity out of them, pull out the stuff that’s relevant. If you’re going ‘it doesn’t tick these boxes’, you’re lowering the portcullis of judgement before you’ve even got into the room with it. I think that’s troubling.”

The Harry Potter author has refused to back down from her gender-critical views and has explained herself at length at various times. In December, Rowling said that her concerns reflected those of many women over challenges to their fundamental rights, which have come under attack by “gender identity ideology.” 

“Many women are concerned about the challenges to their fundamental rights posed by certain aspects of gender identity ideology,” the author said to Good Housekeeping magazine. “I’ve had a huge postbag since speaking up on this issue and more than 90 per cent of the letters and emails have been supportive. My correspondents have included medical staff, social workers, prison workers, workers in women’s refuges and members of the LGBT community, including trans people.”

“Many are afraid to speak up because they fear for their jobs and even for their personal safety,” she added. “This climate of fear serves nobody well, least of all trans people. I believe everybody should be free to live a life that is authentic to them, and that they should be safe to do so. I also believe that we need a more nuanced conversation around women’s rights and around the huge increase in numbers of girls and young women who are seeking to transition. Some of the most heartbreaking letters I’ve received have been from young women who regret the irreversible surgeries they’ve undertaken. These stories need to be told.”

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