Anne Hathaway Apologizes Amid Controversy for 'The Witches' Character

Anne Hathaway is apologizing after her portrayal of the Grand High Witch in HBO Max's The Witches was deemed offensive by members and supporters of the disability community. In a long post shared to Instagram Thursday, the actress apologized for "the pain caused" by her character and promised to "do better."

Shared alongside a video from the Lucky Fin Project, a non-profit project aimed to raise awareness and celebrate those born with symbrachydactyly or limb differences, Hathaway said that she recently learned that "many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because" of the portrayal of her character in the film. She said that she does her best "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 that "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."

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Directed by Robert Zemeckis and released on HBO Max on Oct. 22, The Witches quickly faced criticism from the disability community for the way in which the film chose to depict the evil Grand High Witch, who is described in the novel as having "claws." For the film, those "claws" were depicted as three fingers on each hand, which many pointed out closely resembled ectrodactyly, a congenital disorder. In their own statement, a Warner Bros. spokesperson said that "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" and that "it was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them."

Hathaway, in her post, said that she had not made the connection to limb difference "when the look of the character was brought to me." She said that if she had made the connection, "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," Hathaway, who is mom to sons Jonathan and Jack, concluded. "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."