JK Rowling on the Rosie O'Donnell Show, October 18, 2000

Transcription by Laurel Carmer

Rosie: What can I tell you about these books? The Harry Potter series -- it's just simply the best books I've read, and I'm a grown-up, and some people say they're for kids, but frankly they're not, they're for everyone. The messages are just so universal, and they're fabulous for the whole family. The Goblet of Fire is the new one, it sold more than three million copies in two days. Welcome back to the show, Jo Rowling. Jo comes out, lots of applause.

Rosie: Well, hi, Jo, how are you? How's it going?

Jo: Not bad at all.

Rosie: Good to see you.

Jo: Good to be back.

Rosie: How about the biggest entertainment story of the summer, is this book?

Jo: Isn't that good?

Rosie: That is an astounding thing. Now, were you in America when they released it this summer?

Jo: No, I was in the UK.

Rosie: You were in the UK.

Jo: Yeah, it was mad there, too.

Rosie: Was it crazy there?

Jo: Very crazy.

Rosie: Here, I have to tell you, I'm in the mall at like three in the afternoon, and I see, outside of Barnes and Noble, literally hundreds of kids sitting down with their parents with the little scar of the lightning bolt on their head, waiting until midnight when it went on sale.

Jo: They were doing sleep-overs in London.

Rosie: Yes they were -- it's astounding.

Jo: It is wonderful.

Rosie: How does it feel to have really have motivated an entire generation to read?

Jo: Nothing better, nothing better.

Rosie, No, and kids are so affected by this book. Did you read that article in USA Today?

Jo: I did, yeah, it was incredible, it had 10,000 entries.

Rosie: Tell everyone about that.

Jo: Yeah, so USA Today ran a competition, people had to write an essay about how the books had changed their lives, and so I'm meeting 10 children.

Rosie: You're going to meet them today.

Jo: Yeah, which is the best thing I'm going to be doing this week, I think.

Rosie: Some of them are so profound -- a young girl who was homeless...

Jo: Yeah, that was incredible, she said she used to -- well, she lies with her mum and plans the bedroom she's going to have after they leave the shelter.

Rosie: Right.

Jo: And she wants it like Harry's bedroom.

Rosie: And she felt she had someone to relate to, someone who didn't have it easy.

Jo: Yeah.

Rosie: Any of the other stories that come to mind?

Jo: I really like -- there's a boy, Scott McDonald, who wrote this letter saying, "My grades have really improved, because my reading skills are so much better, and if you don't believe me call my teacher," and gave me his whole phone number. "I'm not lying, my teacher will tell you."

Rosie: Right. Jo: That was sweet.

Rosie: Now the movie is in production...

Jo: Uh-huh.

Rosie: Y'know, let me tell you --

Jo: You're gonna beat me up, aren't you?

Rosie: No, I'm not gonna beat you up, but I have to tell you. Y'know I love the book more than any human.

Jo: This is true.

Rosie: I live for it -- I can't even tell you. And I called Christopher Columbus, who's the director, and said "Hi, it's Rosie O'Donnell, just wanted to tell you, that I'll play Mrs. Weasley for free -- for free. I'll come over there for free, just let me know when I have to be there." He's like, "Sorry, but we're not having any Americans" -- click! I couldn't even get them to let me audition.

Jo: Can you do a London accent?

Rosie (doing accent): Oh course I can, my father's from Ireland, luv, I can do it very, very well. It's all right now, isn't it?

Jo (amused): Y'see -- no -- that's -- what you're doing there is Dick VanDyke.

Rosie: Oh, really, that's Dick VanDyke? It's more like, y'know, Eliza Doolittle. (She does a little of Eliza.) Yeah, I know, but you're gonna have an all British cast, which is good.

Jo: Which is fantastic, it really is.

Rosie: You've found the kids --

Jo: We found them.

Rosie (Holds up picture): Here's Hermione, Harry, and my son --

Jo: They're great.

Rosie: This is my son here, Ron Weasley, I don't get to be the mother.

Jo: They're great, they're fantastic.

Rosie: How many kids did they see for the roles?

Jo: I honestly -- it was thousands and thousands and thousands.

Rosie: And you were there as well?

Jo: I saw all of them -- I was really keeping my fingers crossed for Dan -- 'cause obviously I'm not casting the film, but I saw his test and I was so hoping he'd get it, and he did and so I'm delighted.

Rosie: What were they looking for exactly -- like somebody who embodied Harry in what way?

Jo: Harry was the hardest to find -- it was like Scarlett O'Hara -- I was looking at kids in the street -- we were at this point where we were thinking we can't find him anywhere, and then the producer of the film just walked into the theatre one night and sat next to him. It was incredible.

Rosie: Really?

Jo: Yeah. Rosie: Is he an actor?

Jo: He is! It was the most -- it was like meant to be -- he said he saw him and just thought, oh, there he is.

Rosie: Right. How about all the kids, too, who are going to be Harry Potter for Halloween, that's sort of astounding.

Jo: Yeah, my daughter as well.

Rosie: Oh, really?

Jo: Yeah.

Rosie: I have -- this summer, I got the tattoos -- y'know, when we got the book, they were giving out the tattoos at the store and my kids walked around all summer with the Harry Potter tattoo.

Jo: She did that as well.

Rosie: Yeah? Jo: You think you're angry, she said to me, "Does Harry have to be a boy? In the film?" Well, yeah, that's kind of, y'know?

Rosie: Yeah, well, I understood, because Christopher Columbus told me that Robin Williams, too, called, and said he would do it for free, 'cause he loved it so much that any part he would do for free.

Jo put her hand over her mouth -- emotional.

Jo: I can't believe these people -- this is -- it's really wonderful that they wanted to do it, but it IS wonderful that it's a British cast.

Rosie: And it's your stuff, it's all right.

Jo: And you ARE Mrs. Weasley, in the book.

Rosie: I am. In the book, if you notice, there's signatures, and there's a letter that I write to Harry and to my son, Ron, and Ginny, and that's my handwriting right there, that I actually wrote, that's my own handwriting. Who's playing her? Is she known?

Jo: I don't -- no, no.

Rosie: She's not a known actress?

Jo: No, she's not known.

Rosie: Okay, that's all right.

Jo: Does that make it better?

Rosie: Yeah, we'll give her a break. If it was like Judi Densch I would be livid, y'know what I mean? Something like that.

Jo laughs.

Rosie: Now, this book, it deals with the subject of death -- we don't want to tell anyone in case you haven't read Goblet of Fire -- we're not going to tell you who dies, but that must have been a tough thing to do. Did you do that on purpose, like, try to...

Jo: I always -- I planned the books, y'know. I know exactly what's going to happen, 'til book seven, so I knew that was coming, but this was the first time I cried writing a book. I cried twice, actually. I cried when I killed the person, and I cried during Dumbledore's speech about it afterwards. I've never done that before.

Rosie: Some people say that the subject is too heavy for kids, and that the book is not really appropriate for kids, although I must tell you, I read it to my five-year-old son, read all of them to him aloud.

Jo: I think kids can deal with it, I really do, and I think unless you show the power of evil, how can I show how great they're being, fighting it?

Rosie: Exactly.

Jo: I read this one to my daughter -- she read most of the book to herself, she's seven, and then I told her, "Chapter 30, I'm reading it to you," cause I thought she might need support. And when the person who died, dies, my daughter said, "Aw, it's not Harry, I don't care."

Rosie and the audience laugh.

Jo: And she wasn't phased at all.

Rosie: Well, I can't even express how much I love it, it's hard for me to describe, it really is.

Jo: Thank you.

Rosie: How are you dealing with all the fame? You're all of a sudden famous.

Jo: I know, it's weird, isn't it?

Rosie: Yeah. Do you enjoy it, or are you just sort of taking it easy?

Jo: I know I said this last time, and it's a year on, but it still feels weird. You keep expecting someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, "No, go, now --"

Rosie: The gig is up.

Jo: Yeah.

Rosie: Right. Well, it's not up, and keep writing, let me tell you -- when does the next one come out?

Jo: I don't know. Book five will be ready when it's ready -- not too long.

Rosie: Remember the last time we had Doug here when we played the game?

Jo: I do remember, yes.

Rosie: Doug came back, he's got his book -- can you sign it for Doug?

Jo: Oh, is Doug here?

Rosie: C' mon down, Doug. All right, Jo Rowling. Go buy the book, if you don't have it yet, you gotta read all four of them. We'll be right back with Jessie L. Martin after this. (to Doug) Hey, man, what's up, dude?

Doug: Nothin' much.

Rosie: How'd you like the book?

Doug: It was awesome.

Fade to commercial.

Notes from transcriber: The first two times Jo was on, Rosie pronounced her name correctly, but this time she said "Rawling." The letter to Uncle Vernon, Rosie said it was written to Harry, Ron and Ginny. There was a lot of talking over each other, so I did the best I could.

Original page date 24 February 2007; last updated 10 February, 2007.