Anne Hathaway Apologizes to Disabled Community for 'Witches' Role

Anne Hathaway is apologizing after her Grand High Witch character in The Witches received backlash. The actress plays the iconic villain in the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved 1983 children’s book, and her character is missing fingers.

On Thursday, Hathaway took to Instagram to extend an apology to the disabled community, explaining how she “learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain” because of her role.

“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 wrote alongside a video of people with limb differences. “As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused.”

She continued by saying how sorry she is, adding, “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,” Hathaway stated. “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.”

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.

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Over the last couple of weeks, viewers pointed out that Hathaway’s character’s hands are similar to those with the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, also known as “split hand,” which involves the deficiency or absence of one or more central digits of the hand or foot.

Critics slammed the portrayal as helping to perpetuate stereotypes that people with disabilities are abnormal or should be feared, also pointing out that the original book did not portray the witches as having missing fingers.

In a statement to ET, Warner Bros. said it “regrets any offense caused.”

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

ET spoke with Hathaway last month about the film, and she talked about paying homage to Anjelica Huston, who memorably played the Grand High Witch 30 years earlier. Last May, Huston told ET that she was “excited” to see Hathaway take on the role.

“I wanted to give a performance that felt as memorable to the children of today as her performance felt to me,” Hathaway said. “It felt like it would’ve been, in a way, disrespectful to crib her performance. Hers is hers and it was for Nick Roeg’s brilliant movie, and mine was mine and it was for Robert Zemeckis.”

Hear more of what she said in the video below.

Anne Hathaway on Keeping Her Pregnancy a Secret While Filming 'The Witches' (Exclusive)

Anne Hathaway on Keeping Her Pregnancy a Secret While Filming 'The Witches' (Exclusive)

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