Anne Hathaway has apologized for the "pain caused" by The Witches in a statement responding to criticism over the film's portrayal of limb difference.
The 37-year-old actress plays the Grand High Witch in the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1983 novel of the same title. The film features the witches as having three elongated fingers on each hand, rather than the clawed hands described in the book.
Some felt the visual portrayal was insensitive towards disabled people, prompting the hashtag #NotAWitch to trend on Twitter after the film's release.
"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 said in a statement on Instagram. "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 added that she did "not connect limb difference when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened."
The star concluded, "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."
— Amy Marren (@amy_marren) November 2, 2020
Along with her message, Hathaway also shared a video from the Lucky Fin Project, an organization supporting those with limb differences.
British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren explained on Twitter why the film was stigmatizing, as she wrote, "It's not unusual for surgeons to try and build hands like this for children/adults with certain limb differences and it's upsetting to [see] something that makes a person different being represented as something scary."
Marren continued, "My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original and that limbs differences begin to be feared."
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. also responded to the backlash to say 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 offence caused."
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