The Daily Mail published an article – titled, “Snow White and the Seven...Politically-Correct Companions” – which claimed to show leaked images from the Disney set taken in Bedfordshire, England on Thursday (13 July).
In the photos, an actress appeared to be dressed in Snow White’s signature yellow and blue dress with a red cape, accompanied by a cast of diverse male and female actors playing the seven characters.
While the woman in the photo bears no resemblance to actor Rachel Zegler, who portrays Snow White in the upcoming live-action film, the Daily Mail claimed that the photos “featured two ‘stand-in’ extras” who stood in “for post-production photography”.
As for the actors playing the controversial “seven dwarfs”, the outlet noted that Snow White’s companions appeared to be of different “genders, ethnicities and heights”.
Soon after photos of the rumoured set circulated on social media, many people took to Twitter to share their frustration over the film’s alleged “woke” casting.
“Unbelievable. #GoWokeGoBroke,” one user tweeted.
“Looks like the Woke don’t care much for dwarves. And…they have a girl dwarf now,” someone else said.
“Disney in number one place to lose their a**,” a third user tweeted, along with the hashtag: “#GoWokeGoBroke”
The controversy escalated when a Disney spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Friday (14 July) that the set photos were fake. “The photos are fake and not from our production. We are currently trying to have the Daily Mail issue a correction,” Disney initally said.
But when asked to respond to Disney’s claim that the photos were fake, the Daily Mail reported that the production studio “confirmed that stand-ins were used for both Rachel Zegler and Andrew Burnap in these images”.
In a statement to The Independent, a Disney spokesperson clarified: “The images that ran [in the Daily Mail] are not official film photos. These show stand-ins for some talent and do not feature Rachel Zegler or Andrew Burnap.”
Walt Disney Studios first announced plans for a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs live-action remake in 2016. The film is set to be a musical, with both the iconic songs of the original 1937 animation and new tracks penned by songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Hollywood newcomer Rachel Zegler was chosen to play the iconic Disney princess in June 2021, followed by Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen and Andrew Burnap as the male lead. But the decision to remake the 1937 animated Disney film soon faced backlash from actor Peter Dinklage, who described the reboot as “f***ing backwards”.
In an appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast in January 2022, the Game of Thrones star discussed the casting of Zegler in the lead role. “I was a little taken aback when they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White,” he said. “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.
“You’re progressive in one way and you’re still making that f***ing backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. What the f*** are you doing man?”
A spokesperson for Disney later responded to the criticism in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying: “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.”
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