The author of the original “Harry Potter” series only appeared within a few excerpts of “Return to Hogwarts” via segments from a 2019 interview. Her limited presence was noted by critics and audiences around the special’s HBO Max premiere on Jan. 1 this year.
Some viewers presumed that Rowling’s absence could be attributed to her troubled public image over the past few years. The author has been mired in controversy as she continues to voice sentiments that have been seen as harmful to the trans community, such as opposing laws that would make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender. Franchise stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have made public statements in support of the trans community since Rowling first faced controversy.
However, in a Saturday interview with Graham Norton on Virgin Radio UK, Rowling claims that her absence from “Return to Hogwarts” was her choice.
“I wasn’t, actually,” Rowling said, after Norton asserted that she was “excluded” from the reunion special.
“I was asked to be on that. I decided I didn’t want to do it. I thought it was about the films more than the books quite rightly,” Rowling continued. “No one said, ‘Don’t.’ I was asked to do it and I decided not to.”
Entertainment Weekly had previously reported that Rowling had been invited to participate in the special, but that her team “determined the archived comments from the writer were adequate.”
While Rowling skipped the anniversary special, she later made a rare public appearance at the red carpet premiere for “Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which she co-wrote alongside Steve Kloves. However, Rowling did not speak to press at the event, nor did she pose for group photographs with the film’s cast.