Anne Hathaway has vowed to "do better" after failing to recognise how her portrayal of a disability in The Witches reboot could be hurtful for children with limb differences.
The Devil Wears Prada star plays the Grand High Witch in the new Robert Zemeckis movie, and filmmakers decided to depict the titular characters as having three long fingers hidden under gloves, instead of the five fingers and long claws described in the Roald Dahl book of the same name the story is based on.
The change in detail led to a backlash from disability campaigners after the project premiered on streaming service HBO Max in late October, with some noting the condition was similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, which is characterised by the absence of one or more central digits on the hand or foot.
Studio officials at Warner Bros. issued an apology for what they described as a "new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book", insisting they did not intend to cause any offence.
Now Hathaway, a new mother-of-two, has broken her silence about the controversy, sharing an empowering video of people with limb differences from the Lucky Fin Project non-profit, which raises awareness and celebrates those with the disability, alongside a heartfelt apology on her Instagram account.
"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," she began.
"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 (politically correct) fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for," she went on.
"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 continued.
"I did not connect limb difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened," she promised fans.
"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," she offered.
The actress went on to encourage her Instagram followers to research the work of the Lucky Fin Project and to search the hashtag #NotAWitch, which has been used by those affected by limb disabilities to share their stories.