J.K. Rowling may have published the seventh and last (so far) Harry Potter novel in 2007, but that doesn't mean she has no more surprises for fans.
The latest came Monday, when casting was announced for the three major adult parts in the new two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play, with a story conceived by Rowling, will open in London in July. The author, who has been very much involved in the play's production, said she was "so excited" about the choices. The big surprise: The actor cast as Hermione Granger is black.
Swaziland native Noma Dumezweni (Dirty Pretty Things) will play the grownup Hermione, with Jamie Parker (The History Boys) as the adult Harry, father of three school-age children and overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic. Paul Thornley (Man Up) completes the trio of friends as Ron Weasley. The part of Harry's son Albus Severus, the boy of the title, has not yet been cast.
In the eight movies based on Rowling's books, Hermione was played by Emma Watson, who is white, although the character's race isn't specified in the books.
Social media lit up with fans' reactions to Dumezweni's casting, and Rowling, who is a past master of Twitter, quickly responded with how Hermione is described in the novels: "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."
There was some negative response to the casting (as well as some complaints that Thornley doesn't have red hair, and Parker does), but most of the response was positive, and much of it amused. One typical fan tweet: "I love how Hermione being black is somehow more implausible to some people than a universe where the entire postal system depends on owls."
The two-part play, which begins previews in London on June 7 and opens July 30, is currently pretty much sold out through January 2017. More information is at harrypottertheplay.com.