Anne Hathaway apologises to limb difference community after The Witches criticism

Sam Warner
·3-min read

From Digital Spy

Update (November 5, 2020): Anne Hathaway has issued an apology for the "pain caused" to people with limb differences by her character in new movie The Witches.

In a message posted to her Instagram account, the actress wrote:

"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."


Original (November 4, 2020): Former Coronation Street actress Melissa Johns has criticised The Witches due to its negative portrayal of limb difference.

The new Roald Dahl adaptation, which was released a few weeks ago, has been condemned by a number of viewers over its physical depiction of Anne Hathaway's character.

In the film, the actress' Grand High Witch is shown to have hands that are similar to ectrodactyly, a limb abnormality.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Melissa, who played Imogen Pascoe on Corrie and is an advocate for better representation of disability in the arts, suggested the movie was "using disability as a costume" and that it was feeding into a trope of people with ectrodactyly being "shown as scary monsters".

"Why missing fingers??" she tweeted. "Here we go again... Using disability as a costume and to highlight a character as a 'baddie'.

"Children with limb differences rarely get to see themselves represented truthfully. But instead get shown as scary monsters? Not what we need."

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

The Witches also drew criticism from the Paralympic Games, which tweeted from its account: "Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised."

Paralympian Amy Marren added: "@WarnerBrosUK was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community?!"

Responding to the criticism, studio Warner Bros said that it was "deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities", adding that they "regretted any offence caused" (via Deadline).

"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."

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