Author J.K. Rowling on Wednesday deflected criticism of racial tokenism for casting a South Korean actor in the latest installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
A promotional trailer for the forthcoming movie revealed that South Korean actress Claudia Kim will play Nagini, a snake belonging to the villain Voldemort.
Not all viewers were thrilled with the casting. One Twitter user accused Rowling of bolstering diversity in the film’s cast to compensate for its alleged absence from her books.
“Representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation,” the user wrote.
But Rowling, who wrote the screenplay and produced the film, countered that Nagini was developed from a “snake-like mythical creature of Indonesian mythology.” She also noted that Indonesia is home to numerous ethnic groups.
Rowling also claimed that the character was a “maledictus,” or a human transformed into an animal by a communicable blood curse.
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series, previously attracted controversy over its casting of Johnny Depp and Jude Law. Depp was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife Amber Heard, while Law plays a young Albus Dumbledore, who Rowling has said would be “openly gay.” The series has also be criticized for the mostly white cast.
But Rowling has also earned plaudits for championing diversity. In 2016, she expressed support after black actor Noma Dumezweni was cast as Hermione Granger in a London production of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. “Brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified,” Rowling tweeted, citing her own description of the character.
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