“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,” the actress, 37, wrote via Instagram on Thursday, November 5. “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.”
Hathaway emphasized that she did not realize the impact her character’s depiction would have on some viewers. “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,” she continued. “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.”
As the mother of sons Jonathan, 4, and Jack, whom she welcomed in 2019, she pointed out her sensitivity to the kind of reactions she saw from fans. “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 noted. “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 Oscar winner then encouraged her Instagram followers to watch the accompanying video from Lucky Fin Project, which raises awareness for individuals affected by limb differences, and explore “the #NotAWitch hashtag to get a more inclusive and necessary perspective on limb difference.”
Hathaway’s character in The Witches, which was released in October, is shown with missing fingers, similar to the condition ectrodactyly (or “split hand”). British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren was one of the activists who slammed the HBO Max film.
“It’s upsetting to something that makes a person different being represented as something scary,” she tweeted on Monday, November 2. “Yes, I am fully aware that this is a film, and these are Witches. But Witches are essentially monsters. My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original and that limb differences begin to be feared. This opens up all new difficult conversations for those with limb differences and sets back what we are trying to achieve which is to celebrate who you are!”
A Warner Bros. spokesperson told Us Weekly in a statement earlier this week that the company was “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and “regretted any offense caused” by the movie.
The spokesperson added that Warner Bros. “worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book” but viewers were not supposed “to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”
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