Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is not a film that’s short on controversies. After uproars about Johnny Depp’s casting as the titular villain and Dumbledore’s sexuality going unexplored, the latest sensitive issue is the reveal that Claudia Kim is playing Nagini, the same Nagini we know will eventually transform into Voldemort’s subservient snake.
While the intention behind the twist was clearly to add more backstory to a minor character from the Wizarding World we thought we knew, many took umbrage – or umbridge – with a Korean actress being cast in a part that was considered a step back for Asian representation in cinema. J.K. Rowling attempted to quell the flames of the outcry when she pointed out she’d been planning the twist all along, but it only caused more problems when she mixed up her mythologies.
But what does the actress herself think of the controversy? Naturally, Kim – most known for her supporting role as Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron – was taken aback by the reaction to her character’s true identity. In fact, the star was certain that her role would be seen as a good thing due to the severe lack of Asian characters previously featured in the franchise.
“It was unexpected. 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. I’m looking forward to viewers being satisfied and the controversy fading away once the film premieres. 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.”
In Crimes, Nagini will be a troubled young woman traveling in a circus currently situated in Paris, which is where she meets Credence Barebones. The pair will bond over being cursed with magical maladies. While Credence is an Obscurial, Nagini’s a Maledictus, meaning she can shape-shift between her human and snake forms but will one day permanently loose the ability to be human.
Kim’s co-star Ezra Miller previously stood up in her defense, promising fans that they’ll love this version of Nagini once they get to see the movie and that her and Credence’s tale is “a tragic and beautiful story that in some ways we already know the end of.” He’s right there, too, as we know she’ll end up as a snake, but it’s hard to see right now how she’ll end up at Voldemort’s side.
Regardless, all the answers will be revealed in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which hits cinemas on November 16th.