Anne Hathaway Apologizes To Disabled Community After The WitchesBacklash

Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.
Updated November 6, 2020: Anne Hathaway has also issued a public apology following the public outcry against The Witches' portrayal of ectrodactyly. In a new statement shared on Instagram, the film star apologized for the pain her role may have brought to differently abled people.
"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 actress wrote in the statement, which captioned a video provided by Lucky Fin Project (a nonprofit aimed at highlighting public awareness of limb differences).
Advertisement
"As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused," Hathaway continued. "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," she wrote. "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."
This story was originally published on November 5, 2020:
The recent Robert Zemeckis-directed adaptation of The Witches, starring Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, received backlash from many in the disabled community for equating physical differences with villainy.
Warner Bros. apologized, saying in a statement that they were “saddened” by learning they had offended people with disabilities and “regret any offense caused." 
In the film, the Grand High Witch has three fingers. In real life, this limb difference is called Ectrodactyly, or more commonly referred to as “split hand.” 
Many in the disabled community took issue with the fact that this portrayal was meant to be scary — the witches in this story are basically child-hating monsters — thus perpetuating stereotypes that disability is something to be afraid of. Craig Spence, the Chief Brand & Communications Officer for the Paralympics, tweeted his frustration that this a trope that Hollywood often feeds into. “Hollywood wake up will you! Stop stigmatizing persons with disabilities in films as evil. Disability is not something to be scared of, it is something to be celebrated and embraced, not portrayed as something sinister,” he wrote.
Advertisement
RespectAbility, a disability advocacy group, underscored that the movie business’s failure to think critically about these issues is hurting the perception of people with disabilities.  
“The decision to make this witch look scarier by having a limb difference — which was not an original part of the plot — has real life consequences,” RespectAbility’s vice president of communications Lauren Appelbaum told Variety. “Unfortunately, this representation in ‘The Witches’ teaches kids that limb differences are hideous or something to be afraid of. What type of message does this send to children with limb differences?”
In response, Warner Bros. apologized and explained that Hathaway’s character’s hands were a specific choice they made when adapting the original Roald Dahl 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.”