Jamie Parker, Katie Leung Talk “Cursed Child” Casting Debate
Actor Jamie Parker, who will be taking on the role of Harry in the upcoming stage production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and former Potter alumna Katie Leung (Cho Chang) have spoken out about the casting of actress Noma Dumezweni in the role of Hermione.
Dumezweni’s casting as an older Hermione generated much heated discussion online – with J.K. Rowling, who is writing the script for the play, publicly lending her support to the casting and arguing that the character had never been explicitly written as white. Emma Watson also later expressed her support through social media.
Can't wait to see Noma Dumezweni as Hermione on stage this year. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ #harrypotterandthecursedchild #2016
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) January 2, 2016
Parker claimed it was “a debate that is over before it’s even begun” and went on to describe Dumezweni as a “stonking actress.” Speaking to the Stage at the opening night of Guys and Dolls, in which he is currently starring, he said,
J.K. Rowling has given her complete support to the production, so it’s game over as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t surprise me, but it doesn’t depress me, and I think we are lucky to have Noma. She is brilliant. I’ve known her for over 10 years, and she is a stonking actress who is going to be a brilliant Hermione. I can’t wait to get started.
Meanwhile, Katie Leung also gave her support for Dumezweni’s casting. Speaking to Digital Spy, Leung admitted that she was “so excited” to see the actress take on the part. She went on to say that going against preconceived notions when casting is inherently a good thing for the industry because it helps to improve diversity on stage and screen.
I think we have to – we have to because if we don’t see that representation on stage or on our screens, then people are going to have a skewed idea of what people are. It’s just not a truthful representation. So yeah, I’m all for it, and I have to go see it.
Cursed Child producer Sonia Friedman has also weighed into the casting debate. Speaking at the 2016 Stage Awards, where she picked up the award for Best Producer for the second year running, she said,
It seemed like a really, really wonderful idea to cast this great, brilliant actor in this role. As we got closer to announcing, I think we all took a moment and realised that this might be considered a surprise, but we embraced it. We were surprised at the amount of coverage, but we were also excited by it because it creates an important discussion, and it moves our industry forward, and it moves the debate forward. There is no question in my mind that when people see this production and see all the casting choices we have made, not just Noma, [they will see] why we have made them.
Previews for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child start from June 7 at the Palace Theatre in London, with four special preview shows taking place in May. What do you make of Dumezweni’s casting? Are you excited to see her portray Hermione in Cursed Child? Let us know in the comments section.