Ralph Fiennes 'Can't Understand' 'Hatred' Toward J.K. Rowling After Her Controversial Trans Comments

"I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing," said the Harry Potter actor

Harry Potter actor Ralph Fiennes is weighing in on the controversy about author J.K. Rowling's much-criticized remarks regarding the transgender community.

Speaking with the U.K.'s The Telegraph in an interview published Wednesday, the 58-year-old Oscar-nominated actor, who portrayed villain Lord Voldemort in the film franchise based on Rowling's bestselling books, claimed the "level of hatred" aimed at Rowling was uncalled for, in his opinion.

"I can't understand the vitriol directed at her. I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational," said Fiennes. "I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing."

Rowling, 55, came under fire last June when she appeared to support anti-transgender sentiments in a series of tweets. Though she denied her views on feminism are transphobic, she doubled down on her controversial standpoints in a lengthy essay shared on her website days later.

Responding to backlash back in June 2020, Rowling wrote that she refuses to "bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it."

Ralph Fiennes; J.K. Rowling
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

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At the time, LGBTQ advocates and celebrities quickly issued statements against Rowling's comments, with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis calling it a "misinformed and dangerous missive about transgender people" that "flies in the face of medical and psychological experts and devalues trans people accounts of their own lives."

A number of other actors from the Potter movies have spoken out against Rowling's statements, including star Daniel Radcliffe, who said that he was "deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused."

"Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren't who they say they are," tweeted Emma Watson at the time. "I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are."

Rupert Grint issued a statement in response to Rowling's 3,600-word 2020 essay, according to U.K.'s The Sunday Times, saying: "I firmly stand with the trans community and echo the sentiments expressed by many of my peers. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment."

Additionally, Eddie Redmayne, star of the prequel Fantastic Beasts movie franchise, told Variety in a June statement: "I disagree with Jo's comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it's time to let them do so."

JK Rowliing
J.K. Rowling. Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

In September, Redmayne, 39 — who received an Oscar nomination for playing a trans woman in 2015's The Danish Girl — told The Daily Mail that he sent Rowling a private note amid the backlash, noting that he finds some of the "vitriol" aimed at her "absolutely disgusting."

Others have sided with Rowling, including Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane, 70, who told the Radio Times that he didn't view the author's comments as offensive.

Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the LGBTQ-rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, previously said comments like Rowling's can be dangerous to members of the trans community.

"To be very clear, in painting transgender people, particularly trans women, as caricatures and potentially as threats to the safety of other people, she is reinforcing the very prejudices that are at the heart of the discrimination, and oftentimes the violence, that comes to the trans community's way," McBride said. "The United Kingdom has allowed for transgender people to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity for years. There has not been a problem."

"When trans people face discrimination in employment and housing and public spaces, it's discrimination that's rooted in the prejudice that transgender people are not who we say we are," added McBride. "And that is exactly what J.K. Rowling is reinforcing."

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