Disney has released first-look pics of the live-action Seven Dwarfs from the delayed live-action Snow White. In the picture, Rachel Zegler’s Snow White is surrounded by her seven companions, who all sport highly exaggerated features. The Illuminerdi has previously reported that the film would feature bandits, and rumors suggested they were replacing the dwarfs with bands of magical creatures. But the new photo shows that Snow White will indeed be surrounded (quite literally!) by her faithful companions.
However, the picture has proved highly controversial, with some social media commentators going as far as calling for the film to be ‘cancelled.’ Rather than hiring seven actors to play the dwarfs (thus increasing the visibility of actors with dwarfism) Disney instead cast Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean, Austin Powers) to play all seven roles, with CGI filling in the exaggerated, cartoon-like features.
Of course we recognise the positive that Disney cast Klebba (who has Acromicric dysplasia and who runs the nonprofit foundation ‘Coalition for Dwarf Advocacy’) rather than casting an able bodied actor whose height was then CGIed alongside facial features. But we can’t help but feel they missed a golden opportunity to widen the casting pool of actors who have forms of dwarfism and create starring roles for actors who may otherwise be overlooked.
Is this the first time the casting has been controversial?
No. Disney has courted a lot of bad press around the casting of the dwarfs. When they were seemingly replaced by the band of bandits and ‘magical creatures’ WWE star Dylan Postl said in an interview with Newsweek ‘I felt so let down. I went through so many emotions; I felt shame and embarrassment, and then anger… In my eyes, these are seven main roles that could have gone to people with dwarfism.’
Are there any positives to this movie?
Despite the casting controversies, Disney seems to be trying to bring the story into the 21st Century. The beloved 1937 cartoon (and the fairy tale it’s based on) are very much products of their time and depict Snow White as needing her prince to rescue her. Of course, this comes after she displays a lot of agency in escaping from the Evil Queen and trying to build her life alongside the dwarfs. So it seems to be that the remake is running with that side of her character.
During a 2022 appearance at D23, Rachel Zegler said: “We absolutely wrote a Snow White that she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love.”
Given that folklorists and scholars of fairy tales such as Jack Zipes claim that they were originally told by women to their daughters as a way of warning them of the dangers life could throw at them, this seems very much in keeping with the original spirit of the story.
Should Snow White be cancelled?
Peter Dinklage certainly thinks so. In the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, he said “”You’re progressive in one way, but then you’re still making that… story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together, what…are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box?”
But other actors with dwarfism, including Dylan Postl, disagree. During an appearance on This Morning (a British daytime talk show) body builder Choon Tan said “It is hypocritical. I think it’s really selfish of him, because he’s made it now and [he’s] taking the opportunity away from other people that have dwarfism.”
And he has a point. While we should be ensuring actors with dwarfism have roles written for them (and roles which feature dwarfism but are not about the condition) perhaps we should also be taking stories such as Snow White (and indeed Game of Thrones) which feature characters with the condition and making sure we give actors the casting opportunities they deserve, to raise awareness of the condition.
However, this film’s release has suffered multiple delays and has now been pushed back again from March 2024 to March 2025, so watch this space for further casting changes that could happen over the next year or so.
What do you think of the CGI dwarves in the new Snow White? Does it suit the aesthetic or is it a little too cartoony? Do you think Disney should have cast separate actors for each of those characters? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media.
Source: The Walt Disney Company