Anne Hathaway Responds to The Witches Controversy

In the weeks since Robert Zemeckis' adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches landed on HBO Max, audiences have voiced their disappointment with the physical depiction of Anne Hathaway's Grand High Witch, resulting in the actress herself taking to Instagram to issue an apology to those she has disappointed and upset. In the film, the Grand High Witch is depicted as missing fingers from her hands, with viewers believing this vilifies people with limb differences, specifically those with ectrodactyly, which is also known as “slit hand.” This follows Warner Bros. issuing an apology for the depiction earlier this week, admitting their regret over such decisions and the pain caused by the character's depiction.

"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," Hathway shared. "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."

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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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She continued, "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."

The actress encouraged her followers to support the Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit organization that exists to raise awareness and celebrate children, individuals, and families affected by limb differences.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. shared earlier this week that the studio was "deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities" and that the studio "regretted any offense caused." The statement added, "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."

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The Dahl book was previously adapted into a movie in 1990, with the issues regarding this new adaptation being that the original Dahl depictions of witches, as well as the 1990 movie, had no references to missing digits or limbs. Audiences pointed out that this decision for the character's appearance was likely done without considering how it would impact those with limb differences.

The Witches is now streaming on HBO Max.