John Tiffany Reflects on “Potter”, Trump, and the Queen’s Honors List in New Interview

Since being selected as the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany’s life has drastically changed. In fact, his story sounds almost like a fairy tale – among other achievements in 2017, Tiffany was named on the 2018 Queen’s honors list in December, just months after Cursed Child took home several prestigious Olivier Awards. But as Tiffany shared in a recent interview with the Herald, this level of success is not without its drawbacks for the ethical artist.

First up for discussion, of course, was the Queen’s honors list. Many Americans might not notice the politics inherent in the annual list, but whether or not to accept his nomination was one Tiffany – who is from a working-class background – considered carefully:

I never saw it coming. Obviously, I’ve got issues with the word ‘empire’. I admit I maybe hesitated for a bit, but then I spoke to my mate Paul Flynn [journalist, author and fellow Yorkshireman], and he said I had to take it because people like us, who come from the places we do, don’t get offered these things. It’s really important.

And in some ways I think it would have been a smack in the face to everyone who has supported, nurtured and encouraged me if I didn’t accept it.


Noma Dumezweni, Jamie Parker, John Tiffany


Tiffany, now busy with his National Theatre production of Pinocchio, is also tuned in to the political stakes of Cursed Child‘s run in New York City. While he’s pleased the show will be reaching more audiences, he doesn’t necessarily see the jump from London to New York as the definition of success it once was.

I find what’s happening in America very difficult. Individually, Americans can be the best people in the world, but the nation has done something dreadful and we’re all paying for that.

Trump is like an eater of worlds from an Avengers movie, but there seem to be different rules for him. What are Twitter doing, for example? He’s constantly breaking their rules, the sort of stuff other people get thrown off for.

The huge profits popular Broadway shows bring in also make Tiffany, who cut his teeth working with the National Theater of Scotland, a little uneasy:

You don’t know where some of those investors come from, and it is so lucrative. Hamilton is making over $3m a week. They’re charging people $1000 to see Bette Midler and people are paying it. It’s outrageous…We’re doing the opposite with Potter. We’re actually reducing the capacity of the theatre. We’re rebuilding it.

If you ask us, Tiffany’s insistence on thinking through these issues is downright Hermione-ish.


A scene from Tiffany’s production of Pinocchio


Despite both directing Cursed Child, a play with a massive fanbase and budget, and working with Disney to bring Pinocchio to the stage, Tiffany says commercial appeal has never been a motivating factor in choosing work – but appreciates that his success on these projects may allow him time to do other things.

I’m never going to stop making theatre, but I don’t think I’ll make it as much because I don’t need to.

There are other things I want to do with my life. I want to sit by the sea in Yorkshire and eat Eccles cakes and spend time with my family. I’m more excited about doing the Royal Court Theatre upstairs than any commercial project that gets thrown at me. You can only do so many of these things. If you keep making them, they get worse. Look at U2.

Whatever projects Tiffany has lined up for the future, we can’t wait to see what’s in store! You can read the full article here.

Jessica J.

I've been making magic at MuggleNet since 2012, when I first joined the staff as a News intern. I've never wavered from the declaration in my childhood journal, circa October 2000: "I LOVE Harry Potter! If I clean my room, my mom says she'll make me a dinner a wizard would love!" Proud Gryffindor; don't hate.