The critical complaints about the fairytale action flick Snow White and the Huntsman run the gamut from Kristen Stewart’s mopey heroine to Chris Hemsworth’s “unremarkable” male lead. But now, scorn is being piled on the folks who actually do much of the work in the original fairy tale: the film’s seven dwarfs.
A representative for Little People of America, a nonprofit group dedicated to the welfare of “people of small stature and their families,” said the organization is angry at Snow White‘s producers and its studio, Universal Pictures, for passing over little people for the roles of the seven dwarfs, according to a report by TMZ. Full-sized British actors — including Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone — played the titular heroine’s loyal friends and were shrunk using digital manipulation or cinematographic tricks including stand-in body doubles.
Moving past the omission of genuine little people for the role of the dwarfs, the spokesman said that Hollywood should be working harder to cast little actors in its films. “This means both casting people with dwarfism as characters that were specifically written to be played by little people … and other roles that would be open to people of short stature,” the rep told TMZ.
Meanwhile, actor Danny Woodburn, who had a regular role on Seinfeld and appears in this year’s other Snow White-inspired film, Mirror Mirror, had far stronger words for the film’s producers. “This is akin to black face,” he told the New York Post, likening the portrayal of dwarves by people larger stature to the minstrel acts of the early 20th century. “If they were casting little people as the doctor on ‘ER’ or the lawyer on ‘The Good Wife,’ if it worked both ways, then I wouldn’t have a beef with this. But it doesn’t work that way.” (Mirror Mirror, starring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts and released in March, does employ little people in the roles of the seven dwarves.)
A representative for Universal Pictures said that the choice of actors “was a casting decision, not a body-type decision,” according to the Post. “[The actors in the dwarf roles] came with pedigrees and recognizability.”