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14 Biggest Harry Potter Scandals of All Time

Lawsuits, parodies, love affairs, full frontal nudity and more


Rags-to-riches billionaire author J.K. Rowling is nothing if not protective of her life’s work. Since the release of the first novel in the Harry Potter series in 1997, Rowling and her corporate sidekicks Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Warner Bros. have gone after everyone from the U.S. Army, adolescent girls and sweet old librarians – and Rowling herself was accused of stealing her entire storyline from a penniless writer who wrote an 18-page book before he died. In the meantime, the teenage stars of the Harry Potter films found time to do a little damage as well: They got high, lost their virginity to a cougar and flashed their undies to the world.

Here are the 14 most shocking Harry Potter scandals of all time.

From Rolling Stone US

2002: Harry Becomes a Dwarf

A fake Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Chinese Porcelain Doll, made the rounds in China. More bogus books followed, many of which were passed off as being written by Rowling, including 2007’s Harry Potter and Leopard Walk Up to Dragon. Porcelain Doll lifted plot points from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and in the story, Harry becomes a dwarf, loses the ability to perform magic, then morphs into a dragon: “Harry doesn’t know how long it will take to wash the sticky cake off his face,” the text read. “For a civilized young man, it is disgusting to have dirty on any part of his body. He lies in the elegant bathtub, keeps wiping his face, and thinks about Dudley’s face, which is as fat as Aunt Petunia’s bottom.” Rowling and her lawyers sued, winning a monetary award and a published apology, but copies were widely distributed and are still believed to be in circulation.

2003: The Right to Read

Rowling and her U.K. publisher Bloomsbury threatened to sue several major publications, including USA Today and the Daily News, for running reviews of The Order of the Phoenix prior to the official release date. Wal-Mart and other stores also began selling copies a week in advance. Two years later, Rowling and Bloomsbury sought a court order from the British Columbia Supreme Court to stop advanced bookstore sales of The Half-Blood Prince, which sparked free speech and “right to read” controversies.

2004: Professor Rumbledore and Mogmarts School

Preventive Maintenance Monthly, a 60-year-old U.S. Army publication, printed a comic strip spoofing Harry Potter. The issue featured a character named Topper, a fellow who resided at Mogmarts School, which was run by one Professor Rumbledore. “At Mogmarts, wands need a light coating of LC40 once a week,” stated one adorable panel that featured a McGonagall doppelganger. “Wizards who do battle with death-eaters need to polish their wands daily … Using a dry wand in high capacity spells can lead to spontaneous combustion. Inflamousignitious! FROOSH!” PMM editor Ken Crunk claimed the characters bore no resemblance to the HP gang. (They did.) After Rowling’s lawyers began investigating possible copyright infringement, the paper agreed not to use the characters again.

2004: The Wyrd Sisters vs. the World

Warner Bros. tried to pay the Canadian folk trio the Wyrd Sisters for the right to use their name in The Goblet of Fire. Rowling writes that a pop outfit called the Weird Sisters played a live set at a titular Hogwarts school dance. The original Sisters rejected the $50,000 Warner Bros. offered and sued for $39 million instead, trying to block the release of the film in Canada. They were later ordered to pay Warner Bros. $140,000 in court fees. The film featured Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker as band members.

2005: The Newspaper Sting

Six weeks before the release of The Half-Blood Prince, Aaron Lambert, a security guard at a British book distribution center, stole two copies. He tried to sell the novels to two British tabloids, the Sun and the Daily Mirror. During negotiations with the Sun reporter, who attempted to carry out a sting and flee with the book, Lambert took out a gun and fired it. After he was arrested and out on bail, he attempted to blackmail Bloomsbury by phone. Lambert was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

2007: Dumbledore Outed

During a Carnegie Hall event for Scholastic’s Open Book Tour Sweepstakes, Rowing revealed that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. A number of publications claimed the announcement was purely a publicity stunt and thousands of readers also expressed their distaste on fan blogs. One New York Times column stated that “J.K. Rowling, the author of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, may think of Dumbledore as gay, but there is no reason why anyone else should.”

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2007: Harry Goes Full-Frontal

In an acclaimed (and, naturally, very popular) West End revival of the drama Equus – which went to Broadway the following year – a surprisingly buff Radcliffe submitted himself to an infamous nude scene onstage to the titillation of any fan lucky enough to score a ticket. Joked Kill Your Darlings director John Krokidas years later: “Before I sent out the script, I said, ‘Oh shit, Daniel’s not Jewish,’ and my boyfriend said, ‘Of course he’s Jewish – everyone in the world knows that. Didn’t you see the shots from Equus? He’s only British from the waist up.’”

2008: Michigan Librarian Sobs on the Stand

Steven Vander Ark, a Michigan librarian and founder of the popular Harry Potter Lexicon, sought to publish a companion encyclopedia to Rowling's books. Rowling and Warner Bros. sued him for copyright infringement. “I believe that this book constitutes the wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work,” Rowling said at the trial. The next day, Vander Ark – whose large eyes, glasses and graying, parted hair awkwardly nodded to Harry's physical description – sobbed as he testified that Rowling’s attacks had ostracized him from the rest of the Potter fandom. He lost the suit.

2008: Daniel Radcliffe’s Sex Life

Daniel Radcliffe told Details magazine in a cover interview that he lost his virginity at 16 to “a much older woman.” In the same article, he admitted that his dream role was to play a cross-dresser, “just because it would be an excuse to wear loads of eye make-up.”

2008, 2009: Red Carpet Mishaps

Emma Watson suffered two panty-baring incidents: The first was on her 18th birthday, when paparazzi caught her at a bad angle while exiting a cab. The second occurred on the red carpet before the film premiere of The Half-Blood Prince, when her kimono-style dress blew open in the rain.

2010: Plagiarism Allegations

The estate of the late author Adrian Jacobs sued Rowling and Bloomsbury for millions, after accusing Rowling of cribbing The Goblet of Fire plot from Jacobs' 18-page book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard, which made references to wizard college and wizard chess. (Jacobs died flat broke, after he lost all his money in the stock market.) The case was dismissed.

2011: Gettin’ High With the Weasleys

Rupert Grint – or someone who looked exactly like him – was photographed smoking out of a bong, supposedly at a Harry Potter cast party. A love of weed may be a family affair for actors playing Weasleys; in 2008, Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), was allegedly photographed rolling a joint.

2011: Hermione Loves… Draco?!

Emma Watson told Seventeen magazine that for the first few films she harbored a hopeless crush on Tom Felton, who played the sniveling Gryffindor enemy Draco Malfoy. The world struggled to process the horror of this revelation leading up to the premiere of Deathly Hallows: Part 2.