Anne Hathaway Apologizes For ‘The Witches’ Remake Character Design After Disability Community Backlash – Update

The Witches
The Witches Warner Bros

UPDATE, November 5: Anne Hathaway, the star of Warner Bros’ The Witches remake, has issued an apology for offense caused to the disability community by the film’s depiction of its title characters. The actress said “this never would have happened” if she had connected the look of the film’s witches with people with limb differences when looking at the designs.

“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,” Hathaway wrote in an Instagram post. You can watch it in full below.

“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. 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. 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. 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,” the actress added.

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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. 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. 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. 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. If you aren’t already familiar, please check out the @Lucky_Fin_Project (video above) and the #NotAWitch hashtag to get a more inclusive and necessary perspective on limb difference.

A post shared by Anne Hathaway (@annehathaway) on

PREVOUS, November 4: Prominent members of the disability community, including campaigners, Paralympians and the Paralympic Games organization, have condemned the depiction of the eponymous characters in Warner Bros’ recently released The Witches, saying the use of distinct physical impairments in their hands is offensive to those with limb differences.

In the movie, Anne Hathaway’s character is shown with hands that are similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand”, which is typified by the absence of one or more central digits on the hand or foot. See image above.

British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren was one of the first to call out the studio for the imagery.

Disability advocate Shannon Crossland stated on Instagram that the imagery in the film was “no way a reflection of the original novel written by Roald Dahl”.

“Is this the kind of message we want the next generation to receive. That having three fingers is a witch’s attribute? It is an extremely damaging portrayal. Disability should NOT be associated with evil, abnormality, disgust, fear or monsters,” she added.

In response to those messages and numerous others from members of the disability community, a Warner Bros spokesperson told Deadline it had been “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and that it “regretted any offense caused”.

“In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book,” they added. “It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”

In Dahl’s 1983 novel, the witches are said to have “square feet with no toes” and “claws instead of fingernails”, though in the first edition cover illustration they are shown to have five fingers on their hands.

The official Paralympic Games twitter account weighed in today on Twitter.

Former Coronation Street actress Melissa Johns, a disability advocate, also tweeted.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, The Witches was released on HBO Max on October 22. It is the second adaptation of Dahl’s book after Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 film of the same name.

Here’s the Warner Bros statement in full:

“We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in THE WITCHES could upset people with disabilities, and regret any offense caused. In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme.”

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/11/the-witches-backlash-disability-community-warner-bros-regrets-offence-1234608930/