'Harry Potter' star Jason Isaacs on J.K. Rowling controversy: 'I was not going to be jumping to stab her in the front — or back'

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Jason Isaacs (in 2011) weighs in on the J.K. Rowling backlash. (Photo: Paul Cunningham/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jason Isaacs (in 2011) weighs in on the J.K. Rowling backlash. (Photo: Paul Cunningham/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jason Isaacs, best known for playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, is the latest of the film franchise's stars to address the controversy surrounding author J.K. Rowling and her statements about the transgender community.

While some Potter stars — including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint — have issued statements expressing support for the trans community amid backlash to Rowling's views that "sex is real and has lived consequences," Isaacs, 58, declined to criticize the writer in a new interview with the Telegraph.

“There’s a bunch of stuff about Jo,” the Good Sam actor told the British newspaper when asked about Rowling, whose first name is Joanne. “You know, I play complicated people, I’m interested in complicated people. I don't want to get drawn into the trans issues, talking about them, because it's such an extraordinary minefield."

He went on to note some of the positive work Rowling has done.

“She has her opinions, I have mine," Isaacs continued. "They differ in many different areas. But one of the things that people should know about her too — not as a counter-argument — is that she has poured an enormous amount of her fortune into making the world a much better place, for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children, through her charity Lumos. And that is unequivocally good. Many of us Harry Potter actors have worked for it, and seen on the ground the work that they do.

“So for all that she has said some very controversial things, I was not going to be jumping to stab her in the front — or back — without a conversation with her, which I've not managed to have yet.”

His remarks come after Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the franchise, called the Rowling controversy a "tricky one" in an interview with the Times. "I don't necessarily agree with everything my auntie says, but she's still my auntie," the former child star, who recently reunited with his co-stars for HBO Max's Return to Hogwarts special, shared.

Isaacs, who has previously spoken about being the target of antisemitic bullying as a Jewish teen, also shrugged off the portrayal of the goblins who run Gringotts bank in the Potter series, which Jon Stewart recently cited in a discussion of antisemitic tropes in media.

“If you watch Stewart’s broadcast, it was meant to be funny,” Isaacs said, noting Stewart's clarification that his discussion was a "lighthearted" one and he was not accusing Rowling of being antisemitic. "You have to be wary [of social media scandals],” the British actor added.

That said, Isaacs does contend that it would “have been very weird” had he encountered Mel Gibson, who famously made antisemitic comments during his 2006 arrest for driving while intoxicated, on the set of their new film, Agent Game. Though the thriller features both Isaacs and Gibson, with whom he previously starred in The Patriot, the Oscar winner had wrapped his scenes by the time he arrived on set.

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