JK Rowling has defended casting an Asian actress as Nagini, the snake-like creature belonging to Harry Potter's nemesis Voldemort, in the latest Fantastic Beasts film.
The franchise, which tells the story of Newt Scamander, is a spin-off and prequel to the Harry Potter stories.
Nagini featured in the Harry Potter books and until now, fans had believed the character was simply a snake (albeit one that had magical powers – about as average as you get in the Wizarding World).
But now, the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: Crimes Of Grindelwald has revealed that Nagini was once a woman – played by South Korean actress Claudia Kim.
Critics have been quick to comment on social media, saying that having an Asian actor play the role of Nagini, who is submissive to the evil Voldemort, is offensive.
One Twitter user said: "If you don't see anything racist about an Asian woman being the pet of a white man – who is basically magic hitler, I don't know what to say."
Another said: "jk rowling: "wow im so liberal for having nagini actually be an enslaved asian woman who has a curse that can only be passed to women!! also, even though nagini is stolen from south asian mythology, we cast an east asian woman!! ha ha hashtag progress :^)))))"
The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name Nagini. They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 26, 2018
Another posted a tweet to Rowling, saying: "Listen Joanne, we get it, you didn't include enough representation when you wrote the books. But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage."
Rowling replied explaining that Nagini is a Naga, which are "snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology".
She added: "They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day."
Others have defended the author, with one Twitter user saying: "When I read HP books, I did think Nagini was a woman in a snake's body. That's what a nagin is in South Asian mythology."
Rowling said she had been hiding the fact that Nagini was a Maledictus – a female who had been turned into an animal due to a blood curse – for 20 years.
It is not the first time she has had to defend a Fantastic Beasts casting, hitting back at critics of Johnny Depp's role in the new film last year following allegations of domestic violence by his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
More from Fantastic Beasts
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, the sequel to 2016's Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, sees Eddie Redmayne return as Newt Scamander, while Jude Law plays a young Albus Dumbledore.
It is due to be released in UK cinemas on 16 November.