Actress Anne Hathawy has taken to Instagram to issue a heartfelt apology following severe backlash over her role in the new film adaptation of the Roald Dahl book The Witches (via New York Post). In the Robert Zemeckis directed movie, Hathaway’s character, The Grand High Witch, has three fingers on each hand, which is similar to a condition called ectrodactyly, according to CNN. Interestingly, the book cover features a witch with five fingers on each hand. Now, the disability community is chastising the film and its star for perpetuating the stereotype that limb differences are scary.
In response, the 37-year-old mom of two said in her post, “I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches. Let me begin by saying I do my best to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others not out of some scrambling PC fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for.” The star went on to say, “As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry.”
Anne Hathaway supports the limb differences community in the wake of the scandal
The Academy Award winning actress’ mea culpa did not end there. In her Instagram post, she goes on to admit, ” I did not connect limb difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened.” She continues, “I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better. And I owe a special apology to everyone who loves you as fiercely as I love my own kids: I’m sorry I let your family down.” Hathaway’s post was shared alongside a video from the Lucky Fin Project, which supports people with limb differences.
According to Deadline, prominent members of the disability community and organizations like the Paralympians and the Paralympic Games first brought the issue with the film to the forefront, with the latter tweeting, “Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised.”
Behind The Witches backlash
The criticism of the film was intense enough that a Warner Bros spokesperson issued a statement to Deadline, which read in part that the company was “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”
Meanwhile, comments to the Deadline story were very insightful, with one respondent echoing the thoughts of many who voiced their opinions on the piece: “Ridiculous how easily people are offended.” But another response squarely answered that comment: “I would love to know how many of you leaving comments about how to ‘get over it’ and ‘stop whining’ or that people are ‘too sensitive,’ have any type of limb difference. I’m going to assume you don’t otherwise you would understand how disheartening this movie is.”
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