JK Rowling’s absence from the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts reunion special has been criticised.
Return To Hogwarts will see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) reunite with other cast members to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first film, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
But many critics noted the absence of Rowling, who only appears in archive video clips.
There has been speculation that the writer was shut out of the programme after her previous comments about the trans community resulted in a backlash.
Writing for The Telegraph, Ed Power wrote: “What’s ultimately missing is any genuine insight into Harry and what it was about him that transfixed so many readers. And, to be honest, only JK Rowling could have offered that kind of insight.”
He added: “Even a muggle will have concluded that the lack of time given to Rowling in this documentary has something to do with the public rebuke by the series’ stars [Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint] in response to her views on trans people.”
The Times‘ Carol Midgley described it as “a charming if at times saccharine reunion” which was “missing a key ingredient” in Rowling.
“The fact that Rowling isn’t sitting there in the Gryffindor common room or walking down Diagon Alley, with the actors who were children at the time acknowledging what their careers owe to her, seems like a strange and key omission,” she added.
Variety‘s, Caroline Framke meanwhile suggested that Rowling’s absence was a good thing.
“Return To Hogwarts is smart to emphasise how these adaptations came together and impacted the world as blockbuster movies more than how Rowling’s vision inspired it,” she wrote.
Can't get around this Harry Potter reunion without JK Rowling. The politics of the world makes me sick. How can you create something from scratch and not allowed to be a part of it? Kmt
— JR (@SegunEmdin) December 30, 2021
The controversy surrounding Rowling first began in 2020, when the author was criticised for a series of “anti-trans” tweets after she called out an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate”.
She then released an essay to defend comments that led to her being accused of transphobia, and to explain why she felt the need to voice her opinions.
Despite the reunion’s criticism, Watson said filming it was “an unexpected joy”.