Ralph Fiennes slams criticism of J.K. Rowling as "verbal abuse" and cancel culture lacking "nuance"

In a recent New York Times interview, the Lord Voldemort actor supported the "Harry Potter" author once again

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published October 25, 2022 4:14PM (EDT)

JK Rowling and Ralph Fiennes (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
JK Rowling and Ralph Fiennes (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Ralph Fiennes is defending J.K. Rowling once again.

In a New York Times weekend interview, the Oscar-nominated actor said the "verbal abuse" the "Harry Potter" author has received over her contentious remarks on transgender rights is both "disgusting" and "appalling."

Fiennes – who plays the villainous Lord Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" films – added, "JK Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It's about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being. The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it's appalling.

"I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women," he continued. "But it's not some obscene, über-right-wing fascist. It's just a woman saying, 'I'm a woman and I feel I'm a woman and I want to be able to say that I'm a woman.' And I understand where she's coming from. Even though I'm not a woman."

Rowling came under fire for her transphobic rhetoric in June 2020, when she called out a Devex op-ed for using the term "people who menstruate" instead of "women." The "Harry Potter" author continued to voice her beliefs in blog posts and even a 3,500-word essay, asserting that transgender rights essentially threatens the women's rights movement. 

In March of this year, she openly opposed Scotland's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would improve the process by which trans people can legally change their gender. And in the following month, she organized a boozy TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) lunch amidst a trans-rights protest urging former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to include transgender people in a U.K. conversion therapy ban.

This isn't the first time Fiennes has voiced support for Rowling. Just last year, Fiennes told The Telegraph that he found the ardent backlash that Rowling has faced to be both "irrational" and "disturbing." 

"I can't understand the vitriol directed at her," he said at the time. "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."

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Many of Fiennes' fellow "Harry Potter" costars, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne, have spoken out against Rowling's transphobic comments and issued statements supporting the transgender community.

In his recent New York Times interview, Fiennes also took the opportunity to bash "cancel culture," saying, "Righteous anger is righteous, but often it becomes kind of dumb because it can't work its way through the grey areas. It has no nuance."

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Cancel Culture Harry Potter J.k. Rowling Ralph Fiennes Terf Transphobia