The Witches star Anne Hathaway has promised to “do better” following the criticism the film has received for its portrayal of limb difference.

The actress acknowledged that many people “are in pain” over the way her Grand High Witch character is depicted.

“I owe you all an apology,” she wrote on Instagram. In the new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1983 book, the witches are revealed to have three elongated fingers on each hand and toe-less feet.

Comedian Alex Brooker and others with hand and arm impairments have accused the film of being insensitive towards disabled people.

“To me It sends out a message that we should be scared of people with missing fingers,” Brooker told the BBC earlier this week.

Hathaway said she “did not connect limb difference with the GHW [Grand High Witch] when the look of the character was brought” to her.

“If I had, I assure you this never would have happened,” continued the star, who won an Oscar for her role in Les Miserables.

“I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences,” she went on.

“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.”

The actress described herself as “someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty”.

She also shared a video from the Lucky Fin Project, an organisation supporting those with limb differences.

‘Deeply saddened’

Hathaway’s message followed the apology Warner Bros issued earlier this week over the portrayal of the witches in the film, which varies from the one in Dahl’s original.

The studio said it was “deeply saddened” to learn Robert Zemeckis’s film “could upset people with disabilities”.

“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,” its statement continued.

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

The Witches had originally been set for a cinema release but was instead distributed on digital platforms last month following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shortly afterwards, the hashtag #NotAWitch began trending on social media.