Disney has responded to actor Peter Dinklage’s criticism of its upcoming live-action adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and said that it is consulting individuals with dwarfism for the project.
On Monday, the multiple Emmy-winning actor, renowned for playing Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, called the media giant’s decision to greenlight another adaptation of the fairytale ‘backward’.
Speaking to Marc Maron, on his podcast WTF, Dinklage, who was born with dwarfism, said, “There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on. 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. Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there. It makes no sense to me.”
Dinklage was referring to the casting of Rachel Zegler, who recently won a Golden Globe for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, as Snow White.
“You’re progressive in one way but then you’re still making that fucking backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box? I don’t know which studio that is but they were so proud of it. All love and respect to the actress and all the people who thought they were doing the right thing. But I’m just like, what are you doing?” Dinklage added without naming Disney.
The studio responded to his criticism, and said in a statement, “We are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community.” Disney added that it will divulge more information “as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”
The live-action film adaptation of the 1938 cartoon, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, will be directed by Marc Webb and is set to go into production this year. While Zegler plays the titular role, Gal Gadot will essay the Evil Queen.
Dinklage has been vocal about the stereotypical depiction of individuals with dwarfism in cinema, as comic or fantasy characters. In his first credited film, Living In Oblivion, he played the role of an actor with dwarfism who complained about his cliched roles.
“Often roles written for someone my size are a little flat. They’re either fools, sight gags or they’re sort of Lord of the Rings, filled with wisdom. They’re not sexual, they’re not romantic, they’re not flawed,” Dinklage had said during a 2003 interview for the Tom McCarthy film The Station Agent.
The actor, who has won multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe for the fantasy show Game of Thrones, has admitted he was sceptical about playing Tyrion Lannister because of the way fantasies typically represent individuals with dwarfism. “When I first heard they were interested in me for a fantasy show. I went, ‘ugh, no.’ I am an actor; I like to portray real people. And sometimes, in the world of fantasy, that gets lost. This (Tyrion’s character) was the opposite, because of the relationships between these characters, because of who Tyrion is, how flesh-and-blood he is.”
Speaking to BBC about the upcoming Snow White adaptation, Dinklage said, “I know loads of people who love [the fairytale] for the right reason… but we are now in the 21st century. People like Disney, who have influence over young people, need to be influencing them in the right direction.”