Warner Bros. made a very adorable attempt at apologizing to the disabled community earlier this week after receiving backlash for its depiction of Grand Hight Witch in its adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. For a number of reasons—including the studios’ failure to acknowledge the actual harm caused by the Grand High Witch’s altered limbs—the statement fell pretty short. On Thursday, Anne Hathaway, the star whose character was at the center of the controversy, took to Instagram to issue an apology that resembled actual remorse.
“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 posted. “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.” She went on to address the film’s target audience by apologizing to the children impacted by the controversy: “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.”
In the film, the Grand High Witch can be seen with hands that are missing a number of digits each, resembling those who have similar-looking congenital limb differences. The look is not strictly based on Dahl’s text, which describes her as having hands with cat-like claws. Many disability advocates called out Warner Bros. for designing a character meant to be feared in a way that could possibly link disability with such a negative connotation. (Warner Bros. responded to the criticism in its statement, explaining that it was their interpretation of the catty claws mentioned in the book.) The actress stated that she did not connect the image of the Grand High Witch to limb differences when she agreed to the role.
Hathaway attached her apology to a video from Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit geared towards raising awareness and providing resources to those with limb differences. You can view the full statement and video below.