J.K. Rowling recently gave more insight into one of the most controversial characters in the Wizarding World: Nagini, who was known only as Voldemort’s snake in “Harry Potter,” but appears as a woman in the prequel series, “Fantastic Beasts.”
“These movies have given me the chance to tell a story that I knew all along about Nagini, who appears only as a snake in ‘Potter,'” Rowling revealed in a film extra called “Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus,” available on the “Crimes of Grindelwald” Blu-ray.
“Now, there were always hints that she had been human,” Rowling said. “In her name — because the Naga are, in mythology, a race of snake beings. So the name was an allusion to the fact that she may herself once have been human.”
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a Naga or Nāga is “a member of a class of mythical semidivine beings, half human and half cobra” in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. “Nagini” is the feminine form of the Sanskrit word, sometimes used to refer to a female Naga.
“They are a strong, handsome species who can assume either wholly human or wholly serpentine form and are potentially dangerous but often beneficial to humans,” the website reads.
Many fans also believe that Rowling subtly hinted at Nagini’s backstory multiple times, especially by making her purposely humanlike in the original series.
Nagini was easily Voldemort’s most trusted companion and was portrayed as having intelligence far greater than that of an average snake.
“I think [Voldemort] is perhaps as fond of her as he can be of anything; he certainly likes to keep her close and he seems to have an unusual amount of control over her, even for a Parselmouth,” Dumbledore tells Harry of Nagini in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
“I never wanted to give this enormous dollop of backstory, but now I can tell it, which is very satisfying — and fits perfectly into the theme of this movie,” Rowling said in the film extra.
The author had previously claimed that she’s been sitting on the secret about Nagini’s origin for 20 years.
Many fans, however, took issue with the surprise twist when it was revealed in a trailer for “Crimes of Grindelwald.”
“Listen Joanne, we get it, you didn’t include enough representation when you wrote the books. But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini,'” the author-turned-screenwriter replied. “They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day.”