IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Anne Hathaway, Warner Bros. apologize after 'The Witches' faces criticism from disability advocates

“It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them,” the studio said.
Image: The Witches
Eugenia Caruso, Penny Lisle, Josette Simon, Anne Hathaway, Orla O'Rourke and Ana-Maria Maskell in ' The Witches'.Daniel Smith / HBO Max

Actress Anne Hathaway and Warner Bros. apologized after “The Witches” was criticized for its portrayal of physical disabilities in the new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel.

The company said in a statement to NBC News that they were “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and “regret any offense caused.”

Hathaway took to Instagram on Thursday to issue an apology.

"As someone who really believes in inclusivity, and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused," she said. "I particularly want to say I'm sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I'll do better."

Many disability advocates criticized the film after photos of Anne Hathaway’s character surfaced online. Her character can be seen with three webbed fingers on each hand — more commonly known as “split hand,” or ectrodactyly.

Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren said on Twitter on Monday that while she understood the film was fictional, its depiction of limb differences perpetuated a harmful trope that was inaccurate.

“It’s not unusual for surgeons to try and build hands like this for children/adults with certain limb differences,” she said. “It’s upsetting to something that makes a person different being represented as something scary.”

The Paralympic Games official Twitter account agreed.

“Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised,” the account said on Twitter on Tuesday.

“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,” the studio said. “It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”

Hathaway added that had she known about the condition, she said the character "never would have happened."

Ultimately, the studio said the film was 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,” the company said.