JK Rowling defends casting of black actress in Harry Potter play

J.K. Rowling Defends the Choice of "Black Hermione"

JK Rowling has responded to varied reaction from fans following the decision to cast a black actress in the role of Hermione Granger in new stage play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

It was announced on Monday that Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni would take on the role made famous in the Harry Potter films by Emma Watson. Some fans began to message the author expressing confusion at a divergence from the Hermione they were used to seeing in the films, and some made openly racist comments.

But Rowling used her social media account to state that Hermione's skin colour had in fact never been specified in the books.

"Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione," she wrote, adding a kissing emoji at the end.

In a new imagining of Rowling's wizarding trio - brought to life on screen by Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint - a middle-aged Hermione will be played by Dumezweni, while one of Alan Bennett's original History Boys, Jamie Parker, is cast as an adult Harry Potter, with Paul Thornley playing Ron Weasley.

Along with her post, Rowling also retweeted a collage of fan art that depicted the fiercely intelligent Hogwarts student as black.

The play's writer Jack Thorne also responded, with a quick jibe at the fact Thornley is not ginger like his book character Ron.

He wrote: "Noma, Jamie & Paul will be the most brilliant three. We're very lucky to have them. And to assure all doubters - Paul is ginger in his soul."

Based on an original story by Rowling and written by Thorne, the play is set 19 years after the events of her seventh book in the series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. It will be directed by John Tiffany.

The Cursed Child will focus on Harry - now an "overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children" - and his middle child, Albus Severus, who struggles with his family's legacy as he starts at Hogwarts school.

The synopsis reads: "While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.

"As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."

The actors are the first to be announced from a cast of more than 30. Despite not knowing who would be taking the lead roles, The Cursed Child managed to set a West End record when it sold 175,000 tickets in 24 hours.

Parker, 36, rose to fame playing student Scripps in both the stage and film version of History Boys. He has also appeared in Valkyrie alongside Tom Cruise and in the Benedict Cumberbatch mini-series Parade's End.

Acclaimed stage actress Dumezweni is currently playing the lead in the Royal Court's production of Linda, replacing Kim Cattrall to rave reviews, and won an Olivier award for her supporting role in A Raisin In The Sun in 2006.

Thornley, 40, who will play her husband Ron, is known for three series of Life Begins opposite Caroline Quentin, as well as roles in Doc Martin and the film adaptation of Les Miserables.

The two-part play is set to open on June 30 2016 at the Palace Theatre, with previews beginning in June.