The Harry Potter author has appeared on a disastrous Zoom call promoting her charity work, as she slammed the “distasteful” interaction.
J.K. Rowling has fallen victim to notorious Russian pranksters who fooled the famed author into thinking she was speaking with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In a 13-minute Zoom call posted to YouTube, the 56-year-old Harry Potter author can be seen on webcam interacting with the person she believed to be Zelensky, but was really Russian comedy duo ‘Vovan and Lexus’, who only featured via audio.
Throughout the lengthy conversation, in which Rowling appears increasingly uncomfortable, the pranksters quizzed the British billionaire on whether the character Albus Dumbledore was gay, before asking who he’d slept with, adding “hopefully not with a transgender person” – referencing Rowling’s controversial past comments about trans people.
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Rowling awkwardly laughed off the joke, saying, “This has been such a pleasure.”
Elsewhere, the Zelensky impersonators encouraged Rowling to change Harry Potter’s signature ‘Z’ shaped scar on his forehead to a “Ukrainian trident”, claiming the ‘Z’ had been plastered on Russian tanks during its Ukraine invasion as a symbol of hope for Vladimir Putin’s regime.
“I will look into that,” Rowling said. “It might be good for me to do something with that myself on social media because I think that will get into the newspapers.”
Towards the end of the chat, Vovan and Lexus turned on their camera to introduce Rowling to “the Order of the Ukrainian Phoenix”, which was an elderly trio of “hereditary witches” who claimed to be assisting the Ukrainian army with their “magical powers”.
They proceeded to sing Rowling a song as she clapped them along.
Rowling’s team have since dubbed the prank “distasteful” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying she was asked to talk about her philanthropy work in Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, which she organises through her charity, Lumos.
“J.K. Rowling was approached to talk about her extensive charitable work in Ukraine, supporting children and families who have been affected by the current conflict in the region,” a spokesman said.
“The video, which has been edited, is a distorted representation of the conversation.”
Rowling is not the first person to be fooled by Vovan and Lexus, with Elton John, Prince Harry, George W. Bush, Kamala Harris and Billie Eilish having previously fallen victim.
Vovan and Lexus, whose real names are Vladimir Krasnov and Aleksei Stolyarov, are thought to be Russian state actors, given they have targeted celebrities who have been outspoken about Russia’s policy.
They have denied the suggestion.