Anne Hathaway is apologizing for the "pain caused" to the limb difference community after "The Witches" received "disappointed" backlash for its depiction of disabilities.
Hathaway's Grand High Witch, the main character in Robert Zemeckis' new adaptation of Roald Dahl's "The Witches" (streaming on HBO Max), has three-fingered hands that resemble the congenital disorder ectrodactyly.
"I am sorry," Hathaway wrote on Instagram Thursday, a day after Warner Bros. issued an apology for the depiction. "I did not connect limb difference with the (Grand High Witch) when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened."
"As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused," she captioned an informational video from Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of limb differences.
Amy Marren, a 22-year-old British Paralympic swimmer, called out the film in a tweet Monday, saying she was "disappointed" in the movie's portrayal.
"Yes, I am fully aware that this is a film, and these are Witches. But Witches are essentially monsters. My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original and that limbs differences begin to be feared," she wrote. "This opens up all new difficult conversations for those with limb differences and sets back what we are trying to achieve which is to celebrate who you are!"
The official Twitter account for the Paralympic Games backed Marren up in a tweet Tuesday, emphasizing that "limb difference is not scary" and should be "celebrated."
Grace Mandeville, an illustrator who is part of the disability community, criticized the movie and said she was "so disappointed."
"Who thought it was a good idea to add in a disability just to make a witch more scary when it's not even written in the book or in the original movie?" Mandeville tweeted, along with the cover of Dahl's "The Witches." Yes, this is just a movie to some, but this effects the perception of the disabled much more than you know."
"Yet again Hollywood (#RobertZemeckis) are using disability to act as a shorthand / signifier for evil and villainy. Disabled people rarely get to see themselves represented in movies (#CrippingUp) and when they are it’s as baddies portrayed by non disabled actors," Adam Pearson tweeted.
Hathaway assured "now that I know better I promise I’ll do better," and encouraged her followers to explore the #NotAWitch hashtag to "get a more inclusive and necessary perspective on limb difference."
Contributing: Cydney Henderson
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anne Hathaway apologizes to disability community for 'The Witches'