Was ‘Harry Potter’ inspired by this ’80s cult movie?

Harry Potter is one of the greatest phenomenons in the history of literature and entertainment, creating arguably the most expansive and passionate fandom ever. Universal Orlando Park created The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so there’s no doubting the power of Harry Potter fans and its worldwide impact. The books (and later films) are the highly original work of author (and genius), J.K. Rowling. There have always been theories rumbling about regarding where Rowling may have pulled inspiration from for the series, but you may not have heard about the commonalities between them and this little known ’80s film.

Troll is a 1986 low-budget horror/sci-fi film that starred Noah Hathaway, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Shelley Hack, and Sonny Bono. One of the characters in the film was named — wait for it — Harry Potter Jr. The similarities don’t stop there. Troll’s Potter is a boy who meets a witch after moving to San Francisco with his family and learns how to perform magic. The film came out 11 years before Rowling ever published the first book in her Harry Potter series. So, did Rowling draw elements from Troll?

A representative for Rowling responded to rumors by saying Rowling never saw the film before penning the novels, and Rowling herself has claimed in the past that the name “Harry Potter” was inspired by a childhood friend named Ian Potter. Fair enough.

It’s important to make it clear that no one is claiming that J.K. Rowling ripped her story from Troll. In fact, Troll screenwriter Eh Naha laughs it off and says in a statement to Huffington Post, “I think the only thing similar, aside from their names, is that they were both kids who spoke English. Also, they both walk upright.” Naha continues his support for Rowling by saying, “If Rowling did recall the name with affection and decided to use it, so what? In both novels and scripts, I’ve used names culled from comic books and movies I was fond of, as are most of my pseudonyms.” It seems most people are with Naha on this one. If it appears that Rowling borrowed elements from the ’80s film, it should be chocked up to coincidence.

Fans of the cult classic film can rejoice over the news that original writer and director, John Carl Buechler, has signed on for an animated 3D reboot called, Troll: The Rise of Harry Potter, Jr. Patricia Arquette has even signed on to voice the witch. The film is slated for release in 2017.

Meanwhile, fans of Harry Potter can rejoice over the anticipation of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them — an upcoming trilogy of films set in New York, starring Eddie Redmayne — which has has an official release date of November 18, 2016.

(Image via Warner Bros.)

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