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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

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.