Once upon a time, a Disney live-action remake sparked backlash. No, this wasn’t the racist discourse around The Little Mermaid, or debate over potentially queer Beauty and the Beast characters, but newfound outrage about the upcoming reimagining of Snow White starring Rachel Zegler.
It all started with a recent Daily Mail article featuring what the publication said were set photos from the film published under the headline, “EXCLUSIVE: Snow White and the Seven… Politically-Correct Companions? First pictures of new live-action remake of Disney classic shows stand-in princess walking with diverse band of merry men and women after row over using dwarf actors.”
The outlet published shots purportedly captured on Thursday from the movie’s UK set. They show multiple actors, seemingly Snow White’s whimsically named confidants, as different “genders, ethnicities, and heights,” which upset certain corners of the internet. The Snow White in these photos is notably not Zegler of West Side Story and the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, who announced, per Collider, that she had completed filming on the project in July 2022.
A Disney source told VF that while these are not official photos, they are from the production, with stand-ins for some cast members. The Daily Mail told VF it stands by its story.
The Snow White remake is directed by Marc Webb, and costars Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen and Tony winner Andrew Burnap. It will reportedly include songs from the original 1937 film, as well as new ones penned by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, best known for the musicals Dear Evan Hansen, and The Greatest Showman.
Since production on the project was announced, it has weathered controversy. Peter Dinklage previously called the story “fucking backward” for its potential depiction of dwarfism. In a statement to Deadline, a Disney spokesperson replied with the following: “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.”
Zegler herself told Vanity Fair last October: “People are making these jokes about ours being the PC Snow White, where it’s like, yeah, it is—because it needed that. It’s an 85-year-old cartoon, and our version is a refreshing story about a young woman who has a function beyond ‘Someday My Prince Will Come.’”
This story has been updated.