Actor Jim Broadbent, who played Professor Horace Slughorn in three Harry Potter films, defended author J.K. Rowling in a recent interview about her position on transgender issues, asserting that he would take on her critics “if it came to it” and called the attacks on her "sad abuse."
“It’s really sad. I think J.K. Rowling is amazing. I haven’t had to confront it myself, but I would support her in that, I think if it came to it,” the actor said.
73-year-old Broadbent told The Daily Telegraph in an interview that he could never have foreseen the state of today's “cancel culture” affecting his career when he started acting in the 1970s.
He remembers when opinions were considered “‘ideologically sound’ ... but there wasn’t the negative aspect to it.”
Broadbent acted in a groundbreaking movie The Crying Game, which put a spotlight on the transgender issue when the plot revealed the leading character falling in love with a transgender character whom he believed was a biological woman.
“It was a different issue then,” Broadbent said of the movie. “An awful lot has changed for the better, and it’s very much part of the conversation in a way that it couldn’t have been then.”
In the interview, Broadbent also dismissed arguments that only disabled actors could play the roles of disabled characters.
“I don’t think that’s feasible in the long run,” he said. “Actors can play all sorts, and disabled actors can play all sorts. You can’t start making rules.”
He admits that he is not religious but grew up with Bohemian pacifist parents who appreciated the "common ground" with the religious beliefs in nonviolence.
“I was at a Quaker school. I think that if I was religious, that would be my way to pursue a spiritual life. I think they are lovely people.”
Broadbent's comments in support of Rowling are in contrast to his younger co-stars in the series, who have been appealing to transgender activists.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe disagreed with Rowling by saying that "trans women are women."
"To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you," he added.
"Trans people are who they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren't who they say they are," actress Emma Watson, known for her role as the young witch Hermione Granger, said.
Another co-star Rupert Grint, famous for his role as the character Ron Weasley, has previously said, "Trans women are women. Trans men are men."
This week transgender rights activists threatened a boycott of a new HBO series adaption of Rowling's Harry Potter books.
“Dreadful news, which I feel duty bound to share. Activists in my mentions are trying to organise yet another boycott of my work, this time of the Harry Potter TV show. As forewarned is forearmed, I’ve taken the precaution of laying in a large stock of champagne,” Rowling joked in a tweet.