Anne Hathaway Apologizes to the Disabled Community for “Pain” Caused By The Witches

Lindsay Weinberg
·2 min read

Anne Hathaway is trying to right a wrong. The Oscar winner is apologizing to the disabled community after her character in The Witches drew backlash.

She wrote on Instagram on Thursday, Nov. 5 that she 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 continued, "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."

She added, "As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused."

As a mother of two, Hathaway said she wanted to give a "special apology" to the families with differently abled children who love them "as fiercely as I love my own kids," adding, "I'm sorry I let your family down."

Inside Anne Hathaway's Wickedly Awesome Wardrobe for The Witches

Hathaway also said she did not make the connection between limb differences and the Grand High Witch when she was first presented with the character, and "if I had, I assure you this never would have happened."

She ended her note with an apology to kids with disabilities and vowed to "do better" in the future, while encouraging fans to educate themselves through the nonprofit Lucky Fin Project "to get a more inclusive and necessary perspective."

Anne Hathaway, The Witches, 2020
Anne Hathaway, The Witches, 2020

Warner Bros. also issued a statement this week. A spokesperson said the filmmakers "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."

When adapting the novel by Roald Dahl, the creative team worked with designers and artists to find "a new interpretation" of "cat-like claws" that are described in the original story. The statement read, "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."

The Witches, Anne Hathaway
The Witches, Anne Hathaway

Paralympic athlete Claire Cashmore was just one of the activists to speak out about offensive depictions in The Witches. The 32-year-old swimmer said Hathaway's character "made me very confused/upset." Although she wants to increase representation of disabilities onscreen, Cashmore hopes they will be seen "in a positive light rather than being associated with being a scary, evil, witch."

In addition, The Lucky Fin Project called out the filmmakers on Monday, Nov. 2, for "the deliberate choice" to make Hathaway's limbs different in order to make her look "more creepy and sinister." The org said the choice was "upsetting" and the community response has been "overwhelming."