Anne Hathaway responds to disability controversy over The Witches

Anne Hathaway in The Witches (Credit: Warner Bros)

Anne Hathaway has apologised after the depiction of her character's hands in The Witches film was accused of being insensitive towards disabled people.

The latest adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1983 book stars Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, who has three elongated fingers on each hand.

Both the novel and the 1990 film starring Anjelica Huston portrayed the witches as having five fingers.

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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British Para swimmer Amy Marren was among those criticising director Robert Zemeckis' recent adaptation, saying its depiction of the witches' hands could be harmful to people – especially children – with limb impairments.

Academy Award-winner Hathaway has now joined studio Warner Bros in issuing an apology and said "now that I know better I promise I'll do better".

She wrote on Instagram: "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.

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Anne Hathaway holds her Oscar for winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Les Miserables" at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES TAGS: - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-BACKSTAGE)
Actress and co-host Anne Hathaway laughs as she arrives at the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 27, 2011. Hathaway's diamond necklace is by Tiffany and Co. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-ARRIVALS)
Actress Anne Hathaway arrives at the premiere of the film "Bride Wars" in New York January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)
Actress Anne Hathaway arrives at the 66th annual Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, California January 11, 2009. Hathaway is nominated for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama award. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)
U.S. actress Anne Hathaway (R) is helped out of a taxi boat by a security guard at her arrival at the Venice Film Festival September 3, 2008. Hathaway stars in the movie "Rachel Getting Married" by director Jonathan Demme which is shown in the competition at the Venice Film Festival. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (ITALY)
Actress Anne Hathaway arrives at the National Board Of Review Awards in New York January 8, 2013. Hathaway and the cast of the film "Les Miserables" won the Best Ensemble Award. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT PROFILE)
Actor Anne Hathaway reacts during a ceremony to honor her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Cast members Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell from the movie "Get Smart" pose for a portrait in Los Angeles May 30, 2008. The movie opens in the U.S. on June 20. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES)
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Anne Hathaway poses for a selfie with a fan after a ceremony to honor her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Actor Anne Hathaway reacts next to her parents during a ceremony to honor her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Cast members Anne Hathaway (R) and Rebel Wilson (2nd L) pose with singers Avril Lavigne (L) and Meghan Trainor at the premiere for the movie "The Hustle" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Cast members Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway attend a photocall for the film "Serenity", in Marina del Rey, California, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Cast member Anne Hathaway smiles at a photocall for the film "Serenity", in Marina del Rey, California, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Actor Anne Hathaway reacts as she speaks after receiving an award at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) dinner in Washington, U.S., September 15, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Cast members Cate Blanchett (L to R), Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter and Rihanna pose at the world premiere of the film "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall in New York City, New York, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Cast members (L-R) Sacha Baron Cohen, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway and Johnny Depp pose at the premiere of "Alice Through the Looking Glass" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Actress Anne Hathaway and husband, Adam Shulman, arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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"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."

She added: "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."

Hathaway also shared a video from the Lucky Fin Project, an organisation supporting those with limb differences.

A Warner Bros representative said filmmakers were "deeply saddened" at causing upset.

The Witches also stars Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci.

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