Harry Potter actor Ralph Fiennes has defended JK Rowling over ‘the disgusting’ abuse she has received for her views on transgender issues and same-sex spaces.

The 59-year-old actor, who plays Lord Voldemort in the series of films based on the author’s books, said he understands where Ms Rowling ‘is coming from’.

Taking a different stance to that of younger members of the Harry Potter cast, Fiennes added that Ms Rowling choosing to express her opinions as a woman did not make her an ‘uber right-wing fascist’, The Telegraph reports.

Speaking to the New York Times, he said: ‘The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling. I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women.

‘But it’s not some obscene, uber Right-wing fascist. It’s just a woman saying: “I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.” 

‘And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman.’

K Rowling and Ralph Fiennes pictured at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party at Hampton Court Palace in June 2007

K Rowling and Ralph Fiennes pictured at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party at Hampton Court Palace in June 2007

He added: ‘JK Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. 

‘It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally-centred human being.’

Ms Rowling was hit by what she described as ‘relentless attacks’ after she took issue with an online article ‘people who menstruate’ in 2020.

She wrote: ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’ 

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Her remarks sparked backlash from a range of other stars including Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the film franchise of the series, Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, and Eddie Redmayne, who stars in Ms Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films.

Fiennes, meanwhile, is among the more senior members of the cast.

He previously questioned the online ‘hatred’ that had been directed at Ms Rowling, while the late Robbie Coltrane said her critics were ‘waiting to be offended’.

Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy, said Ms Rowling’s charity work had been ‘unequivocally good’ and vowed to not ‘jump to stab her in the back’.

And Miriam Margolyes said the ‘vituperation JK Rowling has received is misplaced’.

Tom Felton has been trolled by trans rights activists earlier this month after saying Ms Rowling’s work should be celebrated.

The 35-year-old, who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the wizarding series, said the author’s creations had brought people and generations together. 

The outburst was sparked after Felton said he would not shun or criticise her as others had, instead insisting he was grateful to her for her books earlier this week.

And he told Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘I can’t speak for what other individuals have said. I am constantly reminded that the Potter-verse, certainly when we were finishing the films, there was an expectation that the fandom would be dwindling slowly over the years, whereas most fans that say hello to me, shout “Potter” or “Draco” at me weren’t even born when the books were being made.

‘I am quick to remind myself and others that Potter for some reason has brought more people together across the world and more generations than probably anything else has in the past 20 years and I’m quick to celebrate that.

‘It came from one person and that’s her so I’m very grateful.’

 It comes as Ms Rowling has been embroiled in a war of words with Billy Bragg over transgender rights and today accused him of using ‘the Holocaust to attack feminists’.

It began when Ms Rowling claimed ‘bearded men’, including Bragg and BBC star Graham Norton, are defining what a woman is – rather than leaving it to women themselves.

Bragg, 64, had retweeted a video of an interview with Norton at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this week, which the musician said was ‘really good’ on cancel culture ‘and JK Rowling’.

The author then saw the tweet and attacked the singer, saying she was ‘enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats’.

In a later tweet the singer responded: ‘I’m not complaining that you have a view, JK. I’m complaining that you conflate my view with support for rape and death threats. 

‘I have never expressed such sentiments and if you had any self respect you would apologise for making such a blatantly inflammatory accusation.’ 

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