Walt Disney didn’t invent Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but his 1937 animated adaptation of the Grimm Brothers’ classic fairytale popularized it — and gave each of the story’s fantastical dwarf characters memorable names: Doc, Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey. The Disney business announced earlier this year that West Side Story actor Rachel Zegler will play the princess in a live-action version directed by Marc Webb. During an appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF show on Jan. 24, Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage — who has achondroplasia, a kind of dwarfism — chastised the studio for continuing to recreate a story with outmoded and demeaning images of little people.
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“Literally no offense to anyone, but I was a little taken aback when they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White — but you’re still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Dinklage said to the host. “Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there. It makes no sense to me. You’re progressive in one way, but then you’re still making that f*cking backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. What the f*ck are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”Peter Dinklage
The following day, Disney responded to Dinklage’s comments via a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter. “To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community,” said a company spokesperson on Jan. 25. “We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”
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Rounding out the forthcoming film’s cast alongside Zegler is Gal Gadot (Red Notice) as the Evil Queen and Andrew Burnap (The Chaperone) in an unknown leading role. Neither of the three actors have spoken out about Dinklage’s comments at this time.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has planned to retool the dwarf characters since the film’s “earliest stages” and is working with “cultural consultants” to ensure an inoffensive portrayal, as the company previously did with 2019’s Aladdin and 2020’s Mulan. However, the former faced criticism for darkening white extras with brown makeup during filming and its stereotypical portrayal of the Middle Eastern community. Similarly, the live-action remake of Mulan proved quite controversial amongst many Chinese critics for the film’s production team’s lack of diversity, inaccurate depictions of Chinese culture, and historical errors.