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Harry Potter stars reunite for ‘magical’ 20th anniversary special, without J.K. Rowling

Crew members on the “Harry Potter” films remembered bringing the book series to life 20 years after the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.” (Video: Reuters)

Yes, it’s been 20 years. You are old.

Stars of the Harry Potter movies will reunite two decades after the release of the first film — “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — for an anniversary television special, set to air in January 2022, movie studio Warner Bros said Tuesday.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who played the trio of best friends Harry, Hermione and Ron respectively, came of age on screen where they began as child actors on the fabled Hogwarts school set. The actors grew up in front of a global audience of ardent fans. Now in their 30s, they will join cast members and the films’ makers for a nostalgic TV special.

British author J.K. Rowling, who wrote the books the movies are based on and worked closely with the film’s producers, is absent from the lineup for the Warner Bros. television show. Representatives for Rowling told The Washington Post on Wednesday that they would not be commenting. Warner Bros. also declined to comment.

The retrospective special “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts,” will feature in-depth cast interviews and behind-the-scenes moments from the eight movies and hopes to “honor the magic behind the making of the films,” Warner Bros said. Rowling will feature in archive footage.

It will air on New Year’s Day on streaming platform HBO Max.

Rowling caused a social media storm last year after she shared her opinions on Twitter and months later wrote a lengthy personal essay on transgender issues, and some in the LGBTQ community accused her of transphobia. Grint, Watson and Radcliffe publicly distanced themselves from Rowling’s comments at the time and said they stood with the trans community.

Rowling has said she supports trans rights but did not believe in “erasing” the concept of biological sex. She also said she refused to “bow down” to a movement seeking “to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class.”

In 2020 Rowling returned an award from a U.S. human rights group linked to the Kennedy family after she said the president of the organization had criticized her comments on transgender issues. Rowling reiterated that she was not transphobic and had been a “long-standing donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution.”

J.K. Rowling tried to make her work more inclusive. Then she tweeted support for an anti-trans researcher.

Watson, who played bookish Hermione Granger, shared the news of the television reunion on her Instagram page along with a photo of the young cast, and thanked loyal fans known as “Potterheads.”

“Harry Potter was my home, my family, my world and Hermione (still is) my favorite fictional character of all time,” she said Tuesday. “I am proud not just of what we as group contributed as actors to the franchise but also as the children that became young adults that walked that path.”

Watson also referenced the show’s inclusivity.

“I am proud we were kind to each other [and] that we supported one another and that we held up something meaningful. … The magic of the world wouldn’t exist without you. Thank you for fighting to make it such an inclusive and loving place,” she added.

Tom Felton, who played Harry Potter’s archrival Draco Malfoy and will be appearing in the special, tweeted: “Is this what school homecoming is like? Mark your calendars.”

Matthew Lewis, who played underdog Neville Longbottom, simply said: “This New Year’s Day … we’re putting the band back together.”

Actors Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes and Gary Oldman, who played Bellatrix Lestrange, Hagrid, Voldemort and Sirius Black respectively, will also make a return to the London movie set for the special.

The film franchise based on Rowling’s books began in 2001 and the final film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” was released in 2011. They were huge blockbuster successes raking in more than $7 billion at the global box office, and millions more in franchises, theme parks, toys, books and scarves.

The stories follow the young, orphaned wizard Harry as he seeks to save the magical world from Voldemort, with his classmates. The hugely popular books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 80 languages, and are still a bedtime staple for many children across the globe.

The Harry Potter journey has been “magical to say the least,” said Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. for global kids, young adults and classics, in a statement. “This retrospective is a tribute to everyone whose lives were touched by this cultural phenomenon.”