JK Rowling said she “loves black Hermione” as she has defended the decision to cast a black actress in the role of Hermione Granger in new stage play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.
Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni will take on the role made famous in the Harry Potter films by Emma Watson.
Some fans began to message the Edinburgh-based author expressing confusion at a divergence from the Hermione they were used to seeing in the films and some made openly racist comments, but Rowling used her social media account to state that Hermione’s skin colour had never been specified in the books.
“Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione,” she wrote, adding a kissing emoji.
In a new imagining of Rowling’s wizarding trio, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley – brought to life on screen by Daniel Radcliffe, Watson and Rupert Grint – a middle-aged Hermione will be played by Dumezweni, while one of Alan Bennett’s original History Boys, Jamie Parker, is cast as an adult Harry, with Paul Thornley playing Ron.
Along with her post, Rowling also retweeted a collage of fan art that depicted the fiercely intelligent Hogwarts student as black. The play’s writer, Jack Thorne, also responded, with a quick jibe at the fact Thornley is not ginger like his book character Ron.
Noma, Jamie & Paul will be the most brilliant three. We’re very lucky to have them.Jack Thorne
He wrote: “Noma, Jamie & Paul will be the most brilliant three.
“We’re very lucky to have them. And to assure all doubters – Paul is ginger in his soul.”
Based on an original story by Rowling and written by Thorne, the play is set 19 years after the events of her seventh book in the series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. It will be directed by John Tiffany.
The Cursed Child will focus on Harry – now an “overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children” – and his middle child, Albus Severus, who struggles with his family’s legacy as he starts at Hogwarts school.
Some of the original Harry Potter cast members have voiced their support for the casting news on social media.
Actor Matthew Lewis – who played Neville Longbottom – replied to a fan asking for his thoughts, saying: “And Neville Longbottom was blond. I really don’t care. Good luck to her.”