Actors who have enjoyed playing the part of the little people in pantomimes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs have hit out at ‘hypocritical’ Peter Dinklage after he labelled Disney’s remake of the fairy tale classic ‘backwards’.
Bodybuilding dwarf Choon Tan, 27, from north London, and Zita Ferry, 32, of Stoke-on-Trent, who suffers from dwarfism, have both featured in Snow White productions – with the former saying they always felt ‘inclusive and magical’.
They also told FEMAIL that Game of Thrones star Dinklage’s complaints regarding Disney’s live-animation of Snow White could end up ruining their livelihoods – if it resulted in the entertainment industry avoiding casting little people due to fears of stereotyping.
Dinklage criticised Disney for remaking the 1937 film – which sees the comic dwarf characters living in a cave together – questioning: ‘Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box? I guess I’m not loud enough.’
In response, the American company said it is ‘taking a different approach’ with Snow White’s seven companions and has been consulting with members of the dwarfism community throughout the early stages of production.
Actors who have enjoyed playing the part of the little people in pantomimes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (pictured) have hit out at ‘hypocritical’ Peter Dinklage after he labelled Disney’s remake of the fairy tale classic ‘backwards’
Bodybuilding dwarf Choon Tan (pictured left), 27, from north London, and Zita Ferry (pictured right), 32, of Stoke-on-Trent, who suffers from dwarfism, have both featured in Snow White productions
They also told FEMAIL that Game of Thrones star Dinklage’s (pictured) complaints regarding Disney’s live-animation of Snow White could end up ruining their livelihoods – if it resulted in the entertainment industry avoiding casting little people due to fears of stereotyping
But Choon branded Dinklage ‘hypocritical’ for hitting out at Disney after having featured in Game of Thrones, where his character’s size was mentioned and ridiculed.
Choon, who started his career as a bodybuilder before getting into acting four years ago, where ‘a lot of the jobs that I’ve done have required me to be different and smaller’, has appeared as a dwarf in Snow White in Weston-Super-Mare and Yeovil, in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
He said: ‘A lot of my colleagues and myself rely on that work to get by, and it’s just embracing your uniqueness because when I play the part, they utilise my body building and other people’s skills.
‘And when I’m playing the part, it makes me feel quite impressive, because I feel like the spotlight is on us and it’s quite a magical experience, and just to be on stage – it really helps my confidence.
‘I think everyone who does it, they do it because they enjoy it. They wouldn’t do it otherwise. I’d encourage Disney to stick to the original.’
Adding that he was quite disappointed by Dinklage’s remarks, Choon said: ‘Everyone loves to play the parts, I love doing it and meeting people, and the kids love it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dwarfs being in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’
Choon (left) branded Dinklage ‘hypocritical’ for hitting out at Disney after having featured in Game of Thrones, where his character’s size was mentioned and ridiculed
Choon (pictured with his co-stars) has appeared as a dwarf in Snow White in Weston-Super-Mare and Yeovil, in 2018 and 2019, respectively
Sharing his concerns if Disney were to ditch the Seven Dwarfs, he continued: ‘There won’t be as much opportunity for actors like me to get by over the Christmas periods.
‘And I think it will have a knock on effect because other people might think it might be derogatory to have a dwarf in a certain role.
‘I’ve had people that have hired me for entertainment and stuff and they have that concern as well, where they’re like ‘Oh, we weren’t sure if we were going to book you’.
‘But don’t feel bad about it because I don’t feel bad as long as you’re being respectful. I’m here, I’m getting paid and this is supporting me in my life.
Zita, meanwhile, who was in a Snow White pantomime in December in Whitley Bay said: ‘I honestly feel that the shows are good for little people such as myself, if Disney didn’t use dwarf actors I do feel it takes that away from us.
Choon started his career as a bodybuilder (pictured) before getting into acting four years ago, where ‘a lot of the jobs that I’ve done have required me to be different and smaller’
Sharing his concerns if Disney were to ditch the Seven Dwarfs, Choon (pictured with his colleagues) continued: ‘There won’t be as much opportunity for actors like me to get by over the Christmas periods’
Zita (pictured), meanwhile, who was in a Snow White pantomime in December in Whitley Bay said: ‘I honestly feel that the shows are good for little people such as myself, if Disney didn’t use dwarf actors I do feel it takes that away from us
‘The entertainment industry is the biggest positive we have in our position. Peter Dinklage made a vast amount of money in Game of Thrones, a series that saw him referred to as countless derogatory terms.
‘If he was so against the use of the term dwarf or similar, or even dwarf actors would he have been in the series at all?’
Meanwhile, Paralympic swimmer Will Perry, 21, from Northamptonshire, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today to discuss whether the studio’s live-action production – which is in its third year of development – should be cancelled to avoid reinforcing stereotypes.
Will said he welcomed Disney’s consultation, and admitted certain aspects of the film, such as its name and the little people’s home could be tweaked, but insisted the ‘much loved fairy tale’ shouldn’t be ‘cancelled’.
He appeared on GMB alongside Fats Timbo, a TikTok sensation, comedian and model, who was born with dwarfism but prefers the term ‘little people’.
A Paralympic swimmer (pictured left) who has a common form of dwarfism called achondroplasia has defended Disney’s remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – after Peter Dinklage (pictured right) blasted it as ‘backward’
Will Perry, 21, from Northamptonshire, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today to discuss whether the studio’s live-action production – which is in its third year of development – should be cancelled to avoid reinforcing stereotypes. Pictured, the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
She said even the title ‘isn’t appropriate at all’, adding ‘dwarfs, the name dwarf, is a medical term, and it’s called a mythical creature. So people don’t know how to differentiate either one.’
However, Will, who represented Great Britain at the last Paralympic Games, said he was ‘strongly against cancel culture and wokeism’.
He said: ‘I welcome Disney’s choice to consult people but why didn’t they do that at the start, because I’ve read all sorts of things about when they create different movies, they’ve consulted people of different cultures and different races, down to the smallest detail.
But if they’re going to, then fantastic. I don’t think we should cancel a fairy tale that’s so loved, so many people… love the story, and innocently as well.
‘I don’t think it should be cancelled, it’s brilliant to have a little look and say ‘OK let’s consult people with dwarfism, get their opinion, we might have to make some tweaks’ but I don’t think it should be cancelled at all.
Peter Dinklage (left) expressed his displeasure towards Disney for remaking their 1937 animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He slammed Disney for remaking the ‘backward’ film and applauding the casting of West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler (right) as Snow White
Will appeared on GMB alongside Fats Timbo (pictured together), a TikTok sensation, comedian and model, who was born with dwarfism but prefers the term ‘little people’
The TikTok star (pictured) said even the title ‘isn’t appropriate at all’, adding ‘dwarfs, the name dwarf, is a medical term, and it’s called a mythical creature. So people don’t know how to differentiate either one.’
‘Even if it’s just adjusting the name slightly, or we’re not in a cave, we’re in a house, we’re not depicted as mindless stupid characters, we’re sentient beings, we have feelings, we have opinions.’
Fats suggested the lack of storylines for the seven dwarfs in the original animation was a ‘bit weird’.
‘As soon as they see a little person, they think we’re a mythical creature, they think that we don’t have a personality,’ she said.
‘And the thing is with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they’re just catering to Snow White and they don’t have their own stories and it’s a bit weird, seven dwarfs living in a cave.
Will added: ‘Of course, we’re all about positive role models and positive images, and as much as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a loved and very well known fairy tale it can lead to obviously misconceptions for people with dwarfism.
Diseny said it is ‘taking a different approach’ with Snow White’s seven companions (pictured in the original) and has been consulting with members of the dwarfism community throughout the early stages of production
‘….Midget is incredibly offensive, it’s the n-word for people with dwarfism, it’s really bad, so even though it doesn’t sound as mythical, Snow White and the Seven Little People, it produces a more realistic image of people with dwarfism to the kids who read and watch and love the fairy tale that is Snow White.’
How Disney’s classic cartoons became ‘sensitive viewing’
Disney in 2020 began slapping racism warnings on some of its most iconic movies, including Peter Pan and The Jungle Book, to alert viewers to sensitive scenes.
The media conglomerate believes some of its older cartoons contain outdated racial or ethnic stereotypes, and now opens some films with a disclaimer.
It reads: ‘This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.’
Movies with warning include the 1970 musical comedy The Aristocats, 1955 canine love story Lady and the Tramp and 1960 adventure Swiss Family Robinson.
In relation to The Aristocats, Disney warns viewers about a scene where one cat, voiced by a white actor, yells out stereotypical Chinese ‘words’ while playing the piano with chopsticks.
Peter Pan viewers are warned that Native Americans Indians are referred to as ‘redskins’. Disney says scenes in which Peter and The Lost Boys dance in native American headdresses are a ‘form of mockery and appropriation of Native peoples’ culture and imagery.’
The Jungle Book has also been highlighted, namely for its depiction of the ape King Louie, which was accused of perpetuating a stereotype of African Americans.
Elsewhere 1941 release Dumbo comes under fire for its references to racist segregationist laws in the deep south, as well as its use of affected African-American voices.
The lead crow in the film is also called Jim Crow – a reference to the segregation laws in late 19th and early 20th Century America.
Lady And The Tramp has been placed on the list due to its perceived stereotyping of Asians courtesy of Siamese cats Si and Am, while a dog pound features canines with largely ethnic names and accents
The paralympian added that little people in films are either ‘too mythical or presented in a comical fashion’.
‘For instance, in Wolf of Wall Street, where we’re used as darts, we’re used as projectiles, we’re not even portrayed as living things,’ he said.
‘Then you’ve got Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we’re only really presented to the public and society, as comical characters.’
Fats added: ‘Ever since I was growing up, people would say to me, you’re one of the Snow White of the Seven Dwarfs, or an Oompa Loompa, or some people would try and pick me up because they think i’m an object to throw about because of what they’ve seen in the media.
‘A lot of little people have had similar things. That’s why I think it’s so important to have more positive representation for little people.’
A Disney spokesperson said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday: ‘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.’
The response came after Dinklage blasted Disney for remaking the 1937 film and shared he was surprised by the casting of West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler as Snow White.
‘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,’ Drinklage, 52, told Marc Maron on his WTF podcast.
‘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 backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together, what the f*** are you doing man?’
Disney said the film, which is still years from release, will have cultural consultants, just like its life-action remakes of Aladdin and Mulan did.
The studio also claims it has been working on reimagining the dwarf characters since its earliest production stages.
Disney did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Dinklage was promoting his new movie Cyrano on the podcast with Maron where they were discussing ‘wokeness’ when he discussed the Snow White reboot.
‘Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box? I guess I’m not loud enough,’ Dinklage questioned.
He added he didn’t know what studio was remaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but he recalled, ‘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?’ he added.
Will said he welcomes Disney’s consultation, and admitted certain aspects of the film (pictured), such as its name and the little people’s home could be tweaked, but insisted the ‘much loved fairy tale’ shouldn’t be ‘cancelled’.
Dinklage has a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia, which affects bone growth, causing him to have shorter limbs.
He said the story of Snow White can still be told, but it needs to be updated to reflect today’s standards.
‘If you tell the story of ‘Snow White’ with the most f***ed up, progressive spin on it? Let’s do it. All in,’ he stated.
WHAT IS DWARFISM?
Dwarfism is general term used to cover a swath of conditions that result in the medical term of restricted growth.
There are two main types of restricted growth:
Achondroplasia is a DSS type of dwarfism and is the most common cause of the condition.
As well as having short stature, some people with restricted growth also have other physical problems, such as bowed legs or an unusually curved spine.
However, most people don’t have any other serious problems. They can often live a relatively normal life and have a normal life expectancy.
Source: NHS Choices
The original animated film was based on an 1812 fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm, though the dwarfs in that story lived in a cottage, not a cave.
Dinklage’s concerns were shared by some charities, including the Restricted Growth Association in the UK.
‘I very much stand with Peter Dinklage on the disappointment and irritation towards Disney for the remake of Snow White,’ Rhonda Cutmore, a member of the association, told The Telegraph. ‘As a 46-year-old woman with restricted growth, this story has always had a negative impact on me. Not just the physical characteristics, but the labelling of ‘Dopey’ and ‘Bashful’, were not helpful in the playground.
She added: ‘People with restricted growth are in majority born to average height parents – they never live in gingerbread houses, have little bear beds nor live in homogeneous groups together.’
Dwarfism writer Steph Robson said she hoped film producers make an effort to avoid stereotypes in its retelling of the classic movie.
‘It is my hope that the latest live action remake, and Disney, will, at the very least go some way to redress the decades of the one-dimensional stereotypes that our disability continues to experience, especially within arts and cultural settings,’ she told the outlet.
The story has also been criticised as being ableist for portraying the dwarfs with lesser intelligence and Snow White seeing them as children.
Zegler will star alongside Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen with Marc Webb directing from a script by Greta Gerwig and Erin Cressida Wilson.
Oscar-nominated producer Marc Platt, who also worked on Disney’s live-action rendition of The Little Mermaid, is set to produce the film.
Meanwhile, Dinklage will next be seen in American Dreamer with Shirley MacLaine, Danny Glover, Matt Dillon and Danny Pudi, which is in post-production.
He has a number of projects currently filming like Hitpig, The Toxic Avenger and Brothers.