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The Terrifying Harry Potter Characters That Haunt Tom Felton To This Day

The Harry Potter series has its fair share of nightmare-worthy villains. Dementors can literally suck out all of your joy and leave you an empty husk of a person, while Death Eaters are violent and hateful, and won't hesitate to use spells to torture or even kill their enemies. If that's not enough, there's also a monster-sized snake that can petrify you with a single look and a giant spider — and, of course, there's Voldemort himself, an antagonist who's barely even human.

Still, for actor Tom Felton, who rose to fame portraying the title character's Slytherin house rival and bully Draco Malfoy — strangely beloved by fans — in the Harry Potter films, the characters that seemed to have scared him most of all weren't any of the intentionally spine-tingling creatures in the movies or even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Felton, now 33 and enjoying a much more low-key life post-Potter fame, admitted which creatures he feared in an Instagram live session last month, during which he streamed himself watching the first Harry Potter film. In the scene in which Hagrid and Harry visit Gringotts, Felton pretends that he has to cover the screen and look elsewhere from a fairly unassuming group of characters that are barely seen on-screen throughout the series: the goblins who run the wizarding world's bank. "That was terrifying. Good Lord," Felton says, adding later, "I can't look at that face. It'll haunt me."

J.K. Rowling's portrayal of goblins in Harry Potter is controversial

Completely unrelated to Felton's aversion, the portrayal of goblins in the Harry Potter films has been a subject of controversy in recent years, especially as author J.K. Rowling continues to attract negative attention for her views on transgender people. In the midst of the debate about Rowling's potential transphobia in December 2019, writer Max Curtis brought up another salient point: how similar the portrayal of goblins in the Potter films is to historic anti-Semitic imagery. "In Harry Potter the greedy, hook-nosed monsters are bankers. In Fantastic Beasts, they have Jewish actor Ron Perlman play a 1920s Jewish gangster... related to bankers," he tweeted

Rowling has also been criticized in the past for her depiction of house elves as being an enslaved group who, aside from Dobby, enjoyed their lives of servitude and lack of autonomy. In fact, Hermione Granger was portrayed as being misguided at best and annoying at worst when she embarked on a mission to help liberate the house elves, a take which isn't exactly in line with the series' message that magical racism is wrong, as The Guardian pointed out in a 2015 op-ed. With the number of problematic aspects in the Potter series, it's no wonder that some fans may find themselves conflicted (via Independent) when it comes to the decision of whether or not to buy or play Hogwarts Legacy, the upcoming open-world game based in the Harry Potter universe.