'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' Cast PHOTOS Enrage Fans & Author J.K. Rowling

By Victoria Guerra | Jun 07, 2016 03:13 PM EDT
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will begin its round of preview performances this week at London's West End, and the first few cast photos have been released to the public -- but fans aren't thrilled with what they're seeing. J.K. Rowling, the author of the book series, is stepping in to discuss the play -- including the decision to have Noma Dumezweni play Hermione Granger.

Rowling, who wrote the short story Cursed Child is based on and has been heavily involved in the play's production, recently spoke to The Guardian about her frustration regarding Dumezweni's casting, insisting the Swaziland-born Olivier Award winner was "the best actress for the job."

"I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione 'turned white' -- that is, lost color from her face after a shock -- that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with," Rowling told the British outlet. "But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm."

The announcement that Dumezweni would be taking on the role came with a first wave of puzzlement from fans, as many wondered what was the point of changing the ethnicity of one of the most important characters in the saga. Replying to this, Rowling took to Twitter in December to remind fans of the books that Hermione Granger's race is never specified in the book description, saying she was described as having "brown eyes, frizzy hair" and being "very clever."

After the official Cursed Child social media profiles started posting the first cast photos from the play, the "controversy" of Hermione's race became a talking point once again.

For ten years (from 2001 until 2011), actress Emma Watson was the face of Hermione Granger on the film adaptations, as audiences all over the world saw her grow up in the role. Watson, who these days is focusing on her work on feminism, has given her blessing to Dumezweni and said she couldn't wait to see her fellow actress in the role that made her famous.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will begin public previews on June 7, and the production has been surrounded with secrecy since its announcement. Later this year, the Harry Potter franchise will get another entry: prequel of sorts Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film set in the same universe and starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

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