Anne Hathaway apologises for ‘pain caused’ by The Witches’ offensive portrayal of limb difference

Reiss Smith
·3-min read

Anne Hathaway issued an apology “for the pain caused” by her The Witches character to people with limb differences.

The Witches, HBO Max’s new Roald Dahl adaptation, has been widely criticised over Hathaway’s villainous Grand High Witch, who has three fingers on each hand.

“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 wrote in an Instagram post Thursday (November 5).

“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.”

Hathaway’s apology came after the hashtag “Not A Witch” began trending on social media, as people objected to the film using limb differences to scare.

The actor explained that she “did not connect limb difference” with the Grand High Witch character when it was first presented to her. If she had, “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 continued.

“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 Witches criticised for ‘adding to stigma’ around limb difference.

In the Roald Dahl book, the witches have “thin curvy claws” for fingernails, and feet that end in “square ends with no toes on them at all”.

However, in the new Anne Hathaway film – which was originally set for a theatrical release before the pandemic shunted it to HBO Max – the Grand High Witch is introduced wearing five-fingered gloves, which are later removed to reveal three fingers.

Comedian Alex Brooker, who has hand and arm differences, told the BBC the image was jarring, and worried the film could “add to the stigma” around disability.

Paralympian Claire Cashmore was among those to add their own experiences.

The Witches’ studio, Warner Bros. Pictures, released its own apology Wednesday (November 4).

“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,” it said in a statement.