One of the biggest surprises in the latest trailer for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” was the reveal of Nagini in human form.
In the “Harry Potter” series, Nagini was Voldemort’s snake, as well as one of his Horcruxes, but in the new prequel film, the character has been cast as a human played by Korean actress Claudia Kim.
While many Potter fans greeted the reveal with shock and excitement, the casting of a Korean woman to play the character sparked debate among some over racial sensitivity.
However, Kim has now spoken out about the whole thing, insisting the criticism was “unexpected.”
She said, according to Allkpop: “When I found out that I’m playing Nagini, I thought it was meaningful because it’s an important character in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. ‘Harry Potter’ is a franchise film with many caucasian actors, so I thought many Korean viewers would be happy.”
Kim added during the chat at a theatre in Seoul, “I’m looking forward to viewers being satisfied and the controversy fading away once the film premieres.
“I don’t perceive such controversy solely in a negative way. I believe changes can be made by giving attention to an Asian’s promotions and through the people that look into such issues.”
She continued, “I think Nagini should’ve been played by an Asian. Scriptwriter J.K. Rowling probably searched for an Asian actress because she researched the origin of Nagini. I’m not sure if it’s just my pride, but I think I was able to bring out a different vibe as a Korean in Hollywood where there are many Korean Americans.
“The scriptwriter is good at giving a twist to a story. She’s able to bring out a new side through an unexpected character. Also, this film was directed by director David Yates who has taken charge of the ‘Harry Potter’ series multiple times. He’s knowledgeable about the original series as much as the writer so I followed him with trust.”
Kim’s comments come after young-adult writer Ellen Oh expressed her displeasure on Twitter with the signals apparently sent by the casting choice.
Others joined the chorus of complaints.
Rowling herself responded to one such tweet, explaining the East-Asian origins of the mythical Naga, which inspired the character.
That explanation didn’t sit well with some, though.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly published after the trailer dropped, Kim spoke about getting to bring humanity to such a pivotal character in the series.
“You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live,” she said. “She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”