As a site that regularly reaches out to movie studios to comment on things, we have to say this is a bit of a shocker. But a welcome one. A potentially controversial problem was pointed out to Disney and the world’s biggest film studio has responded. Which, trust us, does not happen all that often.
Here’s how it started. On Monday, comedian Marc Maron released the latest episode of his popular WTF Podcast with award-winning actor Peter Dinklage. Like most of Maron’s talks, topics ran the gamut, eventually mentioning that West Side Story breakout Rachel Zegler was cast as Snow White in an upcoming Disney live-action adaptation from Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb. Dinklage had thoughts.
“Literally no offence 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. “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 fucking backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. What the fuck are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”
That’s Dinklage just talking as a fan. He has nothing to do with the film. But his displeasure with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs began to spread, and when the Hollywood Reporter asked for a comment, Disney actually responded. “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. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period,” a spokesperson told the trade, which also reported that “the studio has been reimagining the dwarf characters since the earliest stages.” As for what the reimagining entails, the Wrap reports the characters have been described on casting sheets as “magical creatures.”
Snow White first began development around three years ago and only in recent months has the film began casting roles such as Zegler as Snow White and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen. So it’s reassuring to think the studio actually flagged any potentially offensive things from the original movie earlier in the development process. And while a sceptic might be quick to point out Disney could be lying about a new approach to the dwarf characters, the fact the studio was so fast to respond to Dinklage, and did so at all, leads us to believe it. If Disney was blindsided by these comments (like it sometimes is by, say, Marvel leaks or Star Wars actors saying awful things) these replies usually take much, much longer. If at all.
The live-action Snow White does not yet have a release date but 2023 seems like a good bet.