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Magic Beyond Words: The J. K. Rowling Story is a Made For TV Biopic dedicated to, surprisingly enough, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, played here by Poppy Montgomery of Without a Trace fame. It originally aired on the Lifetime Network on July 18, 2011.

The film follows Rowling from her childhood in The Seventies to the premiere of the first movie in 2001. It sticks fairly close to the known facts about her life, though with some dramatic embellishments here and there.

The movie received mixed reviews, which is pretty good by normal Lifetime standards. See a trailer here. Watch the whole movie here.


  • Adaptation Dye Job: This is probably the most notable factual error in the film. While Rowling is blonde today, she was a redhead during the time period much of the film takes place. Nevertheless, the film portrays her as blonde throughout. Whether the filmmakers Did Not Do the Research or thought she wouldn't be recognizable enough otherwise is unclear.
  • California Doubling: Canada doubles for Great Britain, Portugal, and (very briefly) New York. There are a lot of Establishing Shots composed of Stock Footage.
  • Call Forward: Okay, we get it. She's going to write Harry Potter.
  • Continuity Cameo: Rowling's second husband, Dr. Neil Murray, appears briefly when she attends the premiere of the first film and is only identified as her fiancé. In Real Life, they wed later that year and have been married ever since.
  • Domestic Abuse: And for the first time in Lifetime history, the protagonist has an appropriate reaction and the police are not useless.
  • Eureka Moment: Many of these. The one which seems the most out there (Rowling instantly gets the entire idea for Harry Potter while on a stalled train) is the one which really happened.
  • Fake Brit: Poppy Montgomery (Australian) as Rowling. Additionally, most of the cast is Canadians playing Brits (the film is an American production, but was filmed in movie-friendly Vancouver, Canada with local talent). Ironic that Rowling famously demanded this trope be averted in the Harry Potter films only for it to be played straight in her own (albeit unauthorized) biopic. On the plus side, Dr. Carson Beckett is Rowling's father.
  • How We Got Here: The film is bookended by scenes of Rowling at the premiere of the first movie.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Ah, the Phrase: The Person's Name Story title format Lifetime seems to love so much.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Lots of this ("Nobody makes any money writing children's books."), much of which actually happened.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Every now and then, we're treated to background music which is apparently meant to sound vaguely like John Williams' Harry Potter themes.
  • Ms. Imagination: Rowling as a child. An accurate depiction, by all accounts.
  • Rags to Riches
  • Stern Teacher: Mrs. Morgan and Mr. Nettleship, both of whom really existed and helped inspire Snape. In Real Life, John Nettleship found out that he was Snape when a reporter told him and, though initially horrified, he eventually embraced it. Incidentally, the real Nettleship taught chemistry, hence Snape teaching Potions, but the film portrays him teaching mathematics for some reason.
  • Slice of Life: The movie generally comes off as being in this genre on account of the fact that Rowling's pre-Harry Potter life was (surprise, surprise) pretty ordinary and unexciting.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue
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