Back to IndieWire

‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ Criticized for Nagini Casting, J.K Rowling Explains Why a Korean Actress Is Playing the Role

The "Harry Potter" author defends the casting of South Korean actress Claudia Kim.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling and “Fantastic Beasts 2” actress Claudia Kim

Mark Von Holden/Variety/Shutterstock and Warner Bros.

“Harry Potter” fans got a huge shock on September 25 when Warner Bros. debuted the final trailer for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The clip included the surprise revelation the sequel is introducing Nagini as a human woman years before becoming Voldemort’s snake and Horcrux. Nagini is a Maledictus in the film, meaning she’s a human cursed to transform into a beast. The role is being played by South Korean actress Claudia Kim.

The decision to cast Kim as Nagini was met with a sizable amount of backlash online. Many people noted Kim is now just one of two actors of color in the “Fantastic Beasts” sequel to be featured in the main cast (the other is Zoe Kravitz), and the fact Rowling decided to have one of her only actors of color play a snake who will one day be subservient to Voldemort rubbed people the wrong way. Others sounded off that casting Kim as a snake perpetuates the “dragon lady” stereotype.

Rowling defended the casting when replying to one fan on Twitter who was upset with Kim being hired to play Nagini. The fan wrote that “suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage,” but Rowling explained that Nagini’s Asian heritage was built into the character from the very beginning.

“The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini,’” Rowling said. “They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day.”

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” opens nationwide November 16.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox