Transgender controversy or not, Strike star Holliday Grainger has spoken with deep affection about the role JK Rowling has played in her life and career.
“Jo is the person who has been a massive influence on me,” she told the latest Radio Times magazine. “She is always there, she’s made it clear she is there for any questions. She’s really lovely and easy to chat to and is very supportive whenever she comes on set.”
Grainger has played Robin Ellacott in three seasons of the Strike crime thriller series – about to be four with Lethal White starting this weekend – based on the novels by Robert Galbraith (Rowling’s crime fiction pseudonym).
Rowling has been harangued for a tweet she posted in June, which was perceived to be anti-trans-women. In it she retweeted an article about menstruation products that referred to “People who menstruate” with the comment: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Trans activists laid into her with vehemence, a fury which was stoked by stars from the Harry Potter movies expressing their regret at her stance.
Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe wrote an essay for an LGBTQ+ suicide prevention charity saying, “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you.”
Emma Watson also offered strong support for trans-women, and Fabulous Beasts and Where to Find Them star Eddie Redmayne said Rowling was wrong.
Grainger, 32, was a little more circumspect about Rowling’s position, when quizzed in the latest Radio Times magazine.
“Hmmm,” deliberated Grainger. “I think no one can pretend to be in a position to understand someone else’s experience. The only way you can do that is by listening, and by giving people the space to air their own opinions. I’m not on social media of any kind because it scares me! The soundbites of opinions, it’s not always the deepest, most nuanced conversation.”
Her Lethal White co-star Tom Burke, who plays the titular detective Cormoran Strike, agreed that Rowling was a “great” person, but he, similarly, wasn’t prepared to wade into the volatile debate over gender identification.
He said: “I can only give my view, which is when there is fear on both sides, resolutions are only achieved in the right sort of space and with the right sort of support. If we want a solid resolution then it can only happen when everybody, or at least the greatest number of people on each side of the debate, feels safe.”
Strike returns to BBC One with a new four-part season, Lethal White, premiering on Sunday, 30th August.
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.