Luna Lovegood actress Evanna Lynch takes us inside 'Harry Potter' controversies and explains why she's a true Gryffindor
- In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Insider, "
Harry Potter" actress Evanna Lynchspoke about her animal rights activism, her connection with autistic Potter fans, and how JK Rowlinghandled Dumbledore's sexuality.
- Lynch, who played
Luna Lovegoodin the fantasy franchise, is currently campaigning against John Hopkins University for their experiments on owls. She's even written a letter urging them to stop.
- The actress said that she gets a lot of letters from autistic fans expressing their love for Luna, and believes that it's Luna's self-acceptance in the face of being deemed an "outsider" that connects with them.
- Lynch also said that Rowling handled Dumbledore's sexuality "sensitively" despite backlash against the non-explicit scenes between him and Grindelwald in the second "Fantastic Beasts" movie.
- Lynch said: "I don't want him to emerge in rainbow flag robes and be like 'I'm finally liberated,' that would sensationalize it. So I think it has to be handled with delicacy."
Evanna Lynch is definitely a Gryffindor. The actress, who portrayed Luna Lovegood in four "Harry Potter" films, said she's a lot more fierce than the character she played to quirky perfection.
"My initial reaction to things — I can get very fiery and angry," Lynch told Insider while discussing her activism, which isn't the sort of lightweight Hollywood activism that is often seen with stars simply sharing photos and videos on social media.Instead, Lynch is more of the take-action, hands-on brand of activism that a number of young Hollywood stars are embodying. In fact, the actress is in a WhatsApp group chat with fellow "Potter" actors Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), and Katie Leung (Cho Chang), she told Insider where they "have conversations" about the issues that keep them fighting.
One such thing that Lynch is currently fighting is a series of experiments on owls being conducted at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in an effort to conduct ADHD research. It's no wonder why PETA tapped the actress to lend her voice in amplifying the issue. In "Harry Potter," owls were often seen communicating with the wizards. It's why Lynch has found her own connection to the birds.
'When I read things that upset me, I think that Gryffindor hero kicks in,' Lynch said of why she's involved in animal rights advocacyIn her letter to the president of Hopkins, urging the university to shut down the "vicious" laboratories with immediate effect, Lynch writes that scientists cut into the owl's brains and insert electrodes, forcing them to listen to sounds in order to record their brain activity. "When I read things that upset me, I think that Gryffindor hero kicks in," Lynch told Insider, referring to the experiments. "I can get very fiery and angry, but I strongly don't believe that's the most powerful place to do activism from."
Insider reached out to a rep for Hopkins, but didn't immediately hear back.Lynch believes that "effective activism is about finding commonality rather than just placing blame and saying you're on the wrong side." Although the 29-year-old actress can't help but stand up for what she believes in, the same can't be said about her "Harry Potter" character, she admitted.
"I always wondered about that — would Luna have been an activist? Because she's not a fiery character. She very much accepts the present moment and kind of seems to go with the flow," Lynch said. "I don't know how much good that would have done the animal rights movement."
Lynch said she gets a lot of fan mail from Potter fans with autism because they 'relate to Luna a lot'While Luna may not have been an activist, it doesn't mean the quirky Hogwarts student isn't having a positive impact on a completely different community. In fact, Lynch's character means a lot to a certain group within the Potter fandom.
"I always get a lot of letters from people with autism who relate to Luna a lot," Lynch said.The Irish actress explained that, while she can never fully understand autism as it's not her lived experience, she certainly knows what it's like to be misunderstood and struggle to communicate.
"You just want people to kind of see your heart, to see how you feel, but it's hard to communicate that," Lynch added. "Growing up, I always felt so out of place. And I just couldn't put my finger on it. Why do I feel different to other people? Why do they have an easier time just fitting in? How do they know how to be funny, how to be cool? I felt that way but felt bad about it."
"But then Luna comes along and she is that way to society, but she doesn't feel bad about it. She just completely accepts herself," Lynch continued. "I think it's similar to autistic people. Obviously, everyone's very different and every case of autism is different, but I think that they see that Luna is somebody who doesn't quite fit in."In the "Harry Potter" franchise, Luna is a Ravenclaw. And although Hogwarts students constantly make fun of her for being different, even calling her "Loony Lovegood," she's still courageous and brave. And it's her confidence that leads her to becoming a key part of Harry's friendship group and Dumbledore's Army. It's a pretty powerful message for anyone who has ever felt ostracized.
It's also a uniting message for the Potter fandom at a time where controversy and hurt are rife. Back in June, Rowling tweeted an article about "people who menstruate." She added, "I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" The message, which she continues to double-down on, has not only hurt the trans community, but Potter actors and fans.Lynch has already spoken about JK Rowling's comments about the trans community, saying she was "saddened" by how it's affected those who are trans.
"I was talking to a few friends about what can we do about this? But then it was kind of like, no, we shouldn't be the ones trying to speak up for these people," Lynch said, referring to Rowling. "It should be about amplifying those voices ... There should be more of that and less of people trying to say the right thing because you can do more damage than good sometimes."
Rowling told Lynch that Dumbledore was gay well before it was announced, and clarifies the author wasn't 'trying to get on the woke train'Another topic that has divided fans is Dumbledore's sexuality. The former headmaster of Hogwarts was revealed to identify as gay by Rowling back in 2007 despite it not being stated or even referenced in the franchise. While memes and Twitter jokes have emerged, criticizing what some view as Rowling trying to retroactively make her work more inclusive, Lynch insists that is not the case
"Years before the Grindelwald franchise, she told me he was gay, and years before it was even announced, she told me that he was gay," Lynch told Insider. "I was trying to ship Luna with someone, asking, 'Can Luna be with someone like Dumbledore? Can you make someone like that?' And she was like, 'No, I don't think so. I really think Dumbledore would be gay.'"
Lynch continued: "So people saying, 'Oh, it's just exploitative. It's just trying to get on the woke train,' it's absolutely not. I think it was such an integral part of his character that she thought deeply about, and I think they're handling it sensitively because she doesn't want to sensationalize it."As many Potter fans will know, Dumbledore had a relationship with Grindelwald, considered to be one of the most dangerous wizards. Their relationship actually transcended friendship — they were in love. It was the deterioration of Dumbledore's relationship with Grindelwald that broke the wizard.
Still, fans felt short-changed by the suggestive plot points. In 2018's "The Crimes of Grindelwald," which Rowling wrote, the first time we see Dumbledore and Grindelwald together, we see the two young wizards make a blood pact. In it, the two hold hands and Jude Law's Dumbledore declares that they were "closer than brothers."
It's much more than a hint at their intimate relationship, but far less than an explicit "coming out" that some fans may have wanted.
Lynch didn't want Dumbledore 'to emerge in rainbow flag robes.' She added, 'It has to be handled with delicacy'"It's not about Dumbledore coming out and being a huge gay icon because that would kind of be reductive. It would be reducing him down to his sexuality, whereas I think it's more interesting if it's like, this is a person who happens to be gay and this is not a defining characteristic," Lynch continued. She added, "I don't want him to emerge in rainbow flag robes and be like, 'I'm finally liberated.' That would sensationalize it. So I think it has to be handled with delicacy, which JK has."
And the actress knows the power of the British author's writing. It's Rowling's pen that made Lynch aware of the issue that's so dear to her heart, owls."'Harry Potter' made me aware of these creatures — they're not just mythical creatures. They're real intelligent animals," Lynch said, before adding, "All animal testing is inhumane and there has to be better ways."
It seems the Gryffindor hero is coming out.Read more: 13 famous actors who were nearly cast in major 'Harry Potter' roles
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