New Fantastic Beasts trailer sparks racial controversy

Claudia Kim as Nagini in The Crimes of GrindelwaldThe recently released trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has officially confirmed speculations that the human version of Voldemort’s beloved snake, Nagini, will finally be making her long-awaited film debut. However, this big reveal has also been met with controversy after claims that the casting choice for the actress is racially insensitive.

In the trailer for the sequel to the 2016 fantasy film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the second installment in the Harry Potter prequel series, we see a brief shot of a young Asian woman standing inside a cage. As the name “Nagini” is whispered, she quickly transforms into a snake. Following the clip’s release, fans have taken to social media to suggest how problematic it is to cast an Asian actress in the role of a cursed girl who will eventually become slave to Lord Voldemort.

Young adult author Ellen Oh expressed her displeasure on Twitter. She began by saying it was the Harry Potter book series that made her want to become a writer and then explained her issue with the casting choice has to do with poor representation in Hollywood.


While others have shared Oh’s sentiments, Nagini actress Claudia Kim recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her role and said fans of the wizarding world will enjoy this new glimpse into the life of human Nagini before she became embroiled in Voldemort’s plot.

“It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini,” Kim said. “You’ve only seen her as a horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”

Author J.K. Rowling has answered some fan questions on Twitter regarding the big reveal and has explained Nagini is not an Animagus, like Peter Pettigrew, but actually a Maledictus.

“The slow transformation into a beast is beyond their control, but they aren’t destined to be evil,” Rowling clarified. “The Maledictus carries a blood curse from birth, which is passed down from mother to daughter.”

In response to one fan’s tweet about Nagini’s race in the film, Rowling responded that this particular species of snake is Indonesian.


This isn’t the first bout of controversy to follow the new Fantastic Beasts film. The decision to cast Johnny Depp as Grindelwald was highly criticized following the domestic abuse allegations that came out against the actor in 2016. In a statement released by Warner Bros. following the controversy, they announced they would proceed with Depp in the role as Grindelwald in “this and future films.” ~Caitlyn Clancey

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Chad G • September 27, 2018 @ 10:22 AM

    Is this really that bad? It sounds like she’ll get more than a glimpse of a role, get a chance to do some acting and portraying the character’s struggles. The actor is excited for people to see her role, let her enjoy herself.

  2. Jim Oei • September 27, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

    I’m of Chinese descent and lived in Indonesia for the 1st 12 years of my life. I don’t think the casting of an Asian woman in that cage is Racist.As an Asian, I don’t feel offended. Ellen Oh is trying to generate a controversy out of nothing and her interpretation of this is just her own opinion. Could it be that she is trying to get some spotlight for herself.

  3. Errol F. • September 27, 2018 @ 12:22 PM

    Here come the social justice warriors once again. You get angry if there is not enough “ethnic representation” and then you get angry when an actor gets a part which doesn’t fit into the “acceptable” category. If you don’t like the casting, don’t see the movie. You can fight with your wallets. If Twitter didn’t exist, you idiots would have to find something else to do.

  4. josh • September 27, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

    jen moulting needs to get over herself typical SJW’s blowing things out of proportion it’s a frickin snake people get over yourselves and enjoy the movie

  5. Sandie • September 27, 2018 @ 1:13 PM

    I don’t understand why this is even considered racist. Am I missing something?

  6. Richard • September 27, 2018 @ 1:44 PM

    Get over it! People are not happy unless they have something to complain about. You can see racism anywhere you want when you are specifically looking for it. How about we stop looking for ridiculous examples like this and focus on real issues of racism where people are actually harmed. The more we focus on something, the greater it becomes. Let’s focus on love instead of what something might portray to a minority of people. Would it be better to simply cast all movies with white people?

  7. Ron • September 27, 2018 @ 6:00 PM

    Ms. Kim is happy. The rest of you ought to listen to her and respect her.

  8. Penguin • September 27, 2018 @ 10:56 PM

    Enough already! It was never proven in a court of law about Johnny Depp. He’ll probably need lots of work if it ever does go to court, but for now, leave it be. Same with all other actors (i.e. Kevin Spacey).
    As to this Asian content the actress could have refused it if she thought it was a bad role for her or if it was bad for the Asian image. She’s happy enough with the role so leave it alone. I think it is time for people to grow up and quit trying to pick fights with everything and everyone and just get on with life.
    Thank you J.K. Rowling for continuing the series and coming up with another wonderful story from your imagination. I look forward to seeing it.

  9. Rhonda Jackson • September 28, 2018 @ 12:34 AM

    I am Aboriginal…I thought Nagini would be Asian. East Asian, but Asian. Snake lore is stronger from Asia. This is not RACIST it is representation. If it had been a killer whale, I would want it to be North American Indian, if a Dragon, I would expect it to be Celtic. If it were a Horse – Greek…History…Books…Stories…READ THEM!

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