The untold truth of Hermione Granger

Feminist icon. Role model. Muggle-born witch. Is there anything Hermione Granger can't do (besides regularly win at wizard chess?) So many years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II hit theaters in 2011, the bushy-haired bruja  whose name is a nod to Greek mythology  still captivates imaginations, sparks controversies, and inspires unwieldy think pieces. 

Witches are notorious for their wild ways, so it's no surprise that much about Hermione Granger remains a mystery. One thing is certain: This character gets around. The mercurial sorceress  and her signature magic wand, which consists of "dragon heartstring core, ten and three-quarter inches, [and] vine wood"  has been spotted dancing in London and delighting crowds at a Pride event. But there's a dark side to Hermione, too. Actress Emma Watson claims portraying the clever witch robbed her of a normal childhood, while author J.K. Rowling reportedly has some big regrets too.

It must be the season of the witch … because we're flying into the wilds on our Quidditch brooms to discover the untold truth of Hermione Granger. Without further ado, Wingardium Leviosa!

Emma Watson: Filming Harry Potter felt like a 'prison'

Harry Potter star Emma Watson doesn't sound particularly pleased that the heft of her childhood was spent standing in front of a green screen making movies. According to a November 2010 article published in Entertainment Weekly, Watson found the grueling filming schedule absolutely "horrible" (via the Daily Mail.) In fact, her decision to ultimately renew her contract for five more years was, in her words, "agonizing."

"I love to make people laugh and I love being creative," Watson said, "but there are so many other things I love doing too." Lamenting her overly-structured life while playing Hermione Granger, she said: "I get told what time I can eat, when I have time to go to the bathroom." To really drive the point home, she added: "Every single second of my day is not in my power."

​Controversy: Casting a black actress as Hermione

The world still has an insatiable appetite for all things Harry and all things Potter. Wildly successful right out of the gate, a new stage play entitled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child premiered in London in 2016, later opening on Broadway in April 2018. "I am really excited," director John Tiffany told The Guardian in July 2018, as the production arrived in Australia. "There are some real treats in the principal cast for Australia. It's going to cause a whole new controversy."

The first controversy was Tiffany's decision to cast Noma Dumezweni (pictured) in the role of Hermione Granger. Although the choice was widely praised  many fans already envision Granger as black  it was not without its detractors. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, was absolutely disgusted by some of the responses. "With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot," Rowling told The Observer in 2016 (via The Guardian.) She ultimately decided "not to get too agitated" about this "bunch of racists," and made it known that she supported Demezweni: "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever," Rowling tweeted. "White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."

Speaking to The Cut in May 2018, Dumezweni was unfazed by the hubbub: "[People] go, What? What do you mean Hermione is black? No it's me, Noma, who happens to be black and the directors have chosen me."

​Emma Watson: The hardest part about playing Hermione

Playing the role of a ghoulishly clever witch for the better part of your life is enough to give anybody an inferiority complex. Speaking to Porter magazine in December 2015, actress Emma Watson suggested all the time and effort spent bringing Hermione Granger to life could make her feel out of step with her non-actorly peers. "[I've] spent more than half of my life pretending to be someone else," she told the mag (via Teen Vogue.) "While my contemporaries were dyeing their hair and figuring out who they were, I was figuring out who Hermione was and how best to portray her."

That interview took place four years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 materialized in theaters. With the project wrapped, Watson finally had room to breathe: "Now at 25 for the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I'm comfortable with," she said. "I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self."

And who is this "most authentic self?" Watson grandly proclaimed that she's "very interested in truth, in finding ways to be messy and unsure and flawed and incredible and great and my fullest self, all wrapped into one." 

​J.K. Rowling confirmed a popular fan theory

In September 2018, a fervid Harry Potter fan tweeted J.K. Rowling (pictured right, alongside Emma Watson) and casually ran a pet theory past the author (per Cosmopolitan.) Even if the theory isn't quite as opulent as some of the others we've heard  Dumbledore is actually Ron Weasley, but time-traveling!  at least it bares the distinction of being confirmed as true by Rowling.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, readers are introduced to Viktor Krum, a Bulgarian who continually butchers the pronunciation of Hermione's name. He keeps saying "Her-my-own," whereas any wizard worth his or her salt knows the name is phonetically pronounced "Her-my-o-knee."

On Sept. 16, 2018, Twitter user Atulaa suggested that Rowling "included that passage on how to pronounce Hermione's name in Goblet of Fire just to school all of us who were saying HER-MY-OWN like Viktor Krum." Well! Harnessing the powerful black magic that we call the internet, Rowling languidly reached for the nearest electronic device and responded to Atulaa with a terse two-word tweet: "Theory correct."

Atulaa subsequently retweeted that exchange, confessing that this brief virtual run-in with Rowling was the "best moment of my life."

J.K. Rowling has one major regret about Hermione

We all make mistakes. Some of us lose our tempers, while others recite the Sectumsempra spell in the heat of the moment and makes lots of blood spurt out of Malfoy's face and chest. Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling admits she made a mistake while plotting the final novel, and it's a doozy. 

In hindsight, she strongly believes Hermione Granger should have wound up romantically entwined with our titular hero, Harry Potter, and not longtime admirer and friend Ron Weasley. "I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment," she revealed cryptically to Wonderland magazine (via The Times.) "That's how it was conceived, really." She acknowledged her decision had "little to do with literature" and "more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it." Rowling wondered aloud: "Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not." 

As it turned out, her fears about the "rage and fury it might cause some fans" were not unfounded. Gutted Potterheads quickly took to various fan sites, such as The Leaky Cauldron, to air their grievances (via The Guardian.) Sample rant: "Well thanks Jo for kicking down 10 years of what I consider to be the most beautiful, unconditional & bare bones real relationship that could ever exist between 2 people." The revelation even rankled Time scribe Samantha Grossman, who lamented that Rowling didn't "acknowledge the possibility that Hermione didn't need to marry Ron OR Harry." 

​The media is really into her birthday

Entertainment Weekly has never wished Anne of Green Gables a happy birthday, nor Strawberry Shortcake, nor the Wicked Witch of the West, or even Dorothy, but then September 2017 rolls around, and the mag be like: "Celebrate Hermione's Birthday with Emma Watson's Most Powerful Quotes About Feminism." That publication is not alone in its fervor. 

Hermione's birthday is also a major occasion for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and actress Emma Watson. When September 19 rolls around, author Rowling might tweet something wistful: "Happy Birthday Hermione Jean Granger. I miss writing you!," as she did in 2015. Watson took to Twitter in 2013 to send well wishes to her character. "Happy Birthday Hermione Jean Granger," she tweeted, leading one perkily precious follower to tweet back: "She's probably Hermione Weasley by now." That inspired Watson to get pretty damn sassy: "I actually reckon Hermione would have kept her maiden name." Finally, the back-and-forth ended, but not before Bustle wrote that the whole exchange made them "so happy."

Moral of the story: Don't forget Hermione Granger's birthday or she might cast the Confringo spell on you, which would make you explode. The end.

Meet ​'Dancing Hermione'... like, immediately

No one plans on becoming a meme … except perhaps Kelsey Ellison, a performer who won the entirety of Summer 2018 by dressing up as Hermione Granger and twerking herself into a magically GIF-able frenzy. According to Mashable, the YouTube personality and Potter obsessive hightailed it over to MCM London's Comic Con and dazzled the crowd with some wonderfully witchy dance moves. Twitter deservedly took notice of her impressive derring-do and put this footloose and fancy-free sorceress on the map.

In July 2018, "Dancing Hermione" made another appearance at a Pride event in London, where she vogued and performed the splits, all in sweltering 86-degree heat — and while wearing a backpack. "Dancing Hermione found her people," one fan tweeted, adding a rainbow emoji for maximum impact. The vid quickly racked up a none-too-shabby 8.65 million views.

"I'm just so thankful and grateful I live in a country where we can be proud a[nd] celebrate who we are," Ellison tweeted. The performer, who identifies as both bisexual and demisexual, added: "Hermione imo is a character who would support and stand up for LGBTQ+ rights."

At this point, it would be irresponsible of us not to at least mention Dancing Hermione's subsequent performance in an Ariana Grande wig.

Hermione Granger is alive and well in Los Angeles

It's safe to call author Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael a bonafide Harry Potter super-fan. The writer, who's worked on hit television shows such as Empire and the increasingly inscrutable Westworld, told the Los Angeles Times that she discovered J.K. Rowling's books late but became such a rabid Potterhead that she decided to launch her own web series focused on her favorite character.

Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis finds our heroine (played by actress Ashley Romans, pictured) living in Los Angeles with a few decidedly not-witchy relatives. As in the play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hermione is also a black woman in Yisrael's story. "I read Harry Potter and I was, Hermione Granger, like that's who I am," she told the Los Angeles Times.

Here's one thing Yisrael hopes her web series will change: "Harry Potter is a man's world," she says. "Hermione is absolutely changing that, because she's one of the standout characters." Yisrael thinks women basically worship Hermione, as does she: "She's become a verb, almost — like if you Hermione something, that means you fixed it." She adds that "people who exist on the outside" have really fallen in love with the series: "People who either are black or are people of color or queer people."

Hermione is a criminal

It was a scandal that no doubt rocked polite sorcery societies and absolutely received coverage from the likes of Time and Mic. One Gawker headline from June 2015 spelled out the whole ugly business with characteristic bluntness: "BREAKING: Hermione Granger Was Never Prosecuted for Use of Illegal Extension Charm." The now-defunct website pulled absolutely no punches, recounting a 1997 incident (chronicled in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) in which Granger flagrantly used an Extension Charm ("Capacious extremis!") on her handbag in order to stock up sufficient supplies to track down Lord Valmont's Horcruxes.

Fake news? Oh, hardly. According to Entertainment Weekly, the Ministry of Magic has made it abundantly clear that Extension Charms are "highly regulated" because there are simply too many ways to abuse them. Author J.K Rowling came clean in a Pottermore post of her own, acknowledging that what our heroine Hermione did was, in fact, extraordinarily illegal. However, since Granger "played no insignificant part in the defeat of the greatest Dark wizard of all time, no charges have been brought." 

To be clear, our inclusion of this incident should not — in any shape, form, or fashion — be construed as any kind of ringing endorsement of Hermione's behavior, so let's not even go there.  

​Can this powerful witch 'have it all?'

Career. Romance. Family. Is the concept of "having it all" merely the stuff of fairy tale? In 2012, Michelle Obama told Essence, "In order to be successful, women have to figure out what they're passionate about first." Asked about "having it all" by Cosmopolitan in 2015, Sarah Jessica Parker couldn't help but wonder: "If you don't have to juggle career, children, and husband for financial reasons, why choose to?" But suppose you're a powerful witch who can recite a flawless Petrificus Totalus spell in your sleep? Can a witch of that caliber "have it all?"

While keeping fans up to date on Hermione's recent exploits, a 2014 update to Rowling's Pottermore website — written in character as gossip columnist Rita Skeeter — touched upon the issue: "After a meteoric rise to Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, [Granger] is now tipped to go even higher within the Ministry, and is also mother to son, Hugo, and daughter, Rose. Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No — look at her hair.)"

Following its publication, Time writer Lily Rothman added her two cents: "Hermione — who Rowling says is an 'exaggeration' of herself — shows how difficult it is to live up to external ideas of what's expected of a woman." As Women's Agenda puts it: "Harry Potter's Hermione proves even magic can't help you 'have it all.'" It's almost like we think Hermione Granger is an actual person … because she is, right?