'Fantastic Beasts 2' actress Claudia Kim says Nagini backlash was 'unexpected'

Claudia Kim as Nagini (Credit: Warner Bros)
Claudia Kim as Nagini (Credit: Warner Bros)

Claudia Kim, the actress who plays Nagini in the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, has said that the recent backlash over her playing the role was ‘unexpected’.

The internet lit up after it emerged in the most recent trailer for the movie that Nagini, a cursed woman who is transformed into a snake and is enslaved by Voldemort, was being played by an Asian actress.

Fans called the casting choice ‘problematic’ that an Asian woman should become the pet of a white man, and thus deemed by many as racially insensitive.

“It was unexpected,” she said during an on-stage interview in Seoul, South Korea (via 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.”

She went on to say that she believes all is not as it seems, and that fans should wait until the movie arrives before casting judgement.

“I’m looking forward to viewers being satisfied and the controversy fading away once the film premieres,” she added.

“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 (like this) and through the people that look into such issues.

Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Credit: Warner Bros)
Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Credit: Warner Bros)

“I think Nagini should’ve been played by an Asian. 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.”

Rowling addressed the controversy at the time.

“The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini,’” she tweeted.

“They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi.”

The movie is due for release on November 16.

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