Playing JK Rowling’s star detective? My integrity sits fine with it, says Tom Burke

Tom Burke has shared his feelings about starring in Strikethe hit BBC adaptation of the detective novels written by JK Rowling.

The 42-year-old actor has portrayed the one-legged private eye, Cormoran Strike, since 2017 and is returning to the role for its sixth season, which began shooting in February.

Speaking in an interview with The IndependentBurke discussed his thoughts on being linked to one of the most polarizing figures of the day, Rowling, who has been met with a strong backlash in recent years over her outspoken stance on trans women.

He said: “I’ve thought about these things a lot, and I feel fine doing that particular job (starring in Strike), and my integrity sits fine with it. “I know it’s a complex issue.”

Burke also revealed that, before the interview, he had made a special request to the BBC for media training on how to talk about the Harry Potter author. “I’ll preface all this by saying, what I want for that situation is for it to mend,” he said.

“I want those absurd groups to find resolution. I don’t want to say anything in the wrong context, or at the wrong time, which is going to make the situation worse, because it’s not nice, right? There’s so much antipathy going on.”

He added: “I hate this term ‘culture war’. Maybe it’s naive of me to say that, but I don’t want to be part of it. “I want to bring people together.”

Asked how he feels about Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson both having condemned Rowling’s anti-trans views, Burke said: “It’s not for me to second-guess anyone’s integrity on speaking out. My integrity is not. My integrity is to step away. I’m aware that might mean people think I’m on the fence; It’s just what feels good with me right now.

“I’m not saying I’ll never speak out; it’s not that I don’t feel part of it. It’s just that I want to say something that’s helpful to resolution.”

On whether he has sympathy for Radcliffe, who has been targeted by anti-trans activists, he said: “I feel sorry for anybody who’s facing any kind of anger, frankly. “It’s just the way I’m wired.”

Burke and his co-star Holliday Grainger on the set of ‘Strike’ in 2022 (BBC/Bronte Film and TV Ltd/Alex Rendell)

Rowling, who first faced a backlash from several key cast members when she shared controversial remarks about the trans community in 2020, has seen her relationship with stars deteriorate amid increasingly toxic debate.

Following the release of the Cass report in April, an independent review of gender identity services for children, Rowling took aim at Radcliffe and Watson, telling them to “save their apologies” for “traumatized detransitioners.”

The author has also long been a fierce critic of the Scottish Government’s gender reform plans, arguing the proposals infringe on women’s safety.

She has denied being transphobic, but has previously stated that she would rather go to jail than refer to a trans person by their preferred pronouns.

Elsewhere in the interview, Burke talked about his new film, Furiosa: A Mad Max Sagahis roles in the movies mank and The Souvenirand being the non-stereotypical leading man.

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