Short-statured actor vows "100 Midget March" to protest Snow White casting tall people as little people

Making the rounds on Hollywood local blogs today: Some so-called "Little People" who work in Hollywood are upset at the producers of the forthcoming Universal motion picture Snow White and the Huntsman, because tall people have been cast in the role of Snow White’s dwarfs. The bodies of the "tall people" actors will be morphed using special effects tech. Matt McCarthy, speaking for a prominent self-decribed “midget theater group” (this is the word Matt uses, not my selection), says they plan to stage a protest.


  1. The small characters in Snow White are _dwarves_.  Not small humans, dwarves – mystical beings, not humans.  This is completely different from dressing up caucasians as other “races”.  The objection is silly. 

    1. I get your point, but theirs is: this is the only type of paying film role that we, as working entertainers, can get in this industry. And now you’re going to deny us even this?

      1. Film making is art, and complaining about a artist’s artistic choices strikes me as ridiculous.  I’d be much more supportive of a campaign for ‘height blind’ casting of roles where height isn’t important.

        1. “We can’t hire little people! It’ll compromise the artistic integrity of our $170 million, PG-13, DARK, TWISTED version of everyone’s favourite fairytale, starring that girl from Twilight whom the kids like so much these days, from the producer of the cult classic arthouse indie film ‘Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland’!”

          1. Given that CGI-ing standard sized actors into a cast of dwarves can’t have been free, I’m more curious about what inspired the (profit motivated) studios to pass up the existing supply of the naturally short.

            Honestly, that’s what surprises me about the whole affair. What’s the catch with that talent pool that they are less desirable than a standard cast and extra CGI jockies?

          2. No, it’s more like, “If we’re spending $170 million with actors like Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, Why should we hire marginally talented actors merely because of their size when we can get the talent of Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, and Eddie Marsten. Other than hiring Peter Dinklage and Warwick Davis, then cloning them digitally ?”

      2. Xeni, isn’t there an Actors Guild or Union that should have stepped in pre-production? 

    2. But Dwarves are small people; and midgets are small people; I don’t think that it’s offensive to cast taller people, but more akin to casting a skinny person in a fat suit when there’s a whole league of fat actors out there waiting to fill a role.

      Maybe I’m wrong.

      [edit: also… dwarfism isn’t mystical – even if the characters are]

      1. I see your point, but there’s an issue of artistic freedom here.  And to clarify, when I said dwarves, I was referring to the storybook characters, not to human people with dwarfism.   

      2. I agree. In Lord of the Rings trilogy, fantastic actors played the lead rolls, little people filled in the rest, it worked out great. 

        Anyway, I’m a total fag, and love it when a straight man plays a gay man better than a gay man could. It’s like Gay Drag. 

        1. Since Hollywood has generally decided that women don’t bring in as much money as men when playing lead roles, maybe we could just cast all the roles in films with male actors and digitally add secondary sexual characteristics.

          1. We could use technology to go back in time! 

            That’s something we all dream of in different contexts, might make a good short story.

          2. Sure, why not? And the other way around. It would actually be quite interesting of not having external characteristic decide who should play what role, but instead the artistic skills as an actor. I don’t think a role should be given due to the actor having a “pretty face”, “nice boobs”, “young”, or whatever.

    3. Last I checked, blackface and friends are out of favor; but it is considered unexceptional (especially in theatre, possibly less so in film, though there was that Thor flap a little while back…) to cast people regardless of their ethnicity’s plausibility to the character’s original context with about the same liberty as is exercised in anachronistic costume…

    4. The small characters in Snow White are _dwarves_.  Not small humans, dwarves – mystical beings, not humans.

      How, exactly, do you know that?

      1. I know Grumpy, and he is a dwarf. We don’t hang together quite as often as we used to, but we try to find some time every now and then. I think he and the other dwarves had some fall out or something… I don’t know, he doesn’t really want to talk about it, but he doesn’t seem to be in contact with them anymore. I know Sneezy still lives in the forest, but I don’t know if any of the others do or what they are doing overall (can’t find them on LinkedIn… Sneezy had a blog, so that’s how I know of him living in the forest, but he hasn’t updated it for at least a year).

  2. “One prominent self-decribed “midget” theater group (this is the word the spokesman himself chose) plans to stage a protest.”

    I’ve always thought ‘little people’ sounds quite patronising.  Although I understand how language evolves to make descriptive terms of disabilities offensive, it’s all about context.  The term ‘Little people’ can be just as offensive as ‘Midget’; if people are going to be offensive they’ll manage irrelevant of the available lexical choices.

    Is there not a scientific/medical term that’s more appropriate, more neutral?

    I’ll continue calling them people for now.

    1.  midget is a medical term, as is dwarf., both meaning different things. One way to think of it is that midgets aren’t dwarfs but both can be little people.

      1. Makes sense, so I guess that’s why it’s the more ‘neutral’ term.

        It’s probably more a problem for me; but it’s nice if I can use terminology that doesn’t offend people unintentionally whilst still feeling comfortable with the terminology myself.

        I’ll get over it!

        1. “… ‘Midget’ however became linked to referencing short people put on display for public ridicule and sport, whereas the terms “dwarf” or “dwarfism” have a more medical base.”

          Maybe I should have just looked this up.  It’s quite likely that I’ll avoid using the term at all from now on!

  3. Reminds me of the complaints against the casting or big people as hobbits. Which I recall Warwich Davis shooting downon the basis of there not really being enough little people actors actually good enough (among other reasons, like hobbits not being proportioned any differently from big people)

    1. Well, yeah, possibly. But surely they should employ all the good enough ones (howsoever you assess that, not my problem) before they resort to the morphing and the  shrinking and the faking to make up the shortfall (sorry).

    2. Fortunately there was enough awesome and mad talented little people for Game of Thrones. At least so far.

      1.  You only need one for Games of Thrones, of course. And he is really really good isn’t he? I should say having not seen the film in question I cannot say if the roles are such that they can’t be filled by those actors available. It’s not unlikely that laziness lead to this decision as much as anything else.

        1. Actually, there are two more achondroplastic actors (one man, one woman) needed for later seasons of GoT, if they’re following the books.

    1. I hear what your getting at; do you search the globe for that one person whom has the “desired physical attribute” and hope he/she is a good actor, or do you just cast a good actor and make the “desired physical attribute” with special effects?

      I would have to lean towards the latter; Hollywood is in the business of making money. Casting someone becasue they have the desired physical attributes does not a blockbuster make.

      1. I agree in principle; but I’m sure finding 7 talented actors that happen to be quite small isn’t particularly difficult.

        Authenticity goes a long way for me too – I’ve worked a lot with CG in the past, so it stands out like a sore thumb.  Even a good old-lady mask on a younger actor can distract me throughout an entire film.

  4.  This is seriously messed up, and I think that the race comparison is spot on. I wouldn’t have paid money to see this film if I’d known.

    Also, that article that’s linked to? Some seriously condescending language. “Now they’re staging an over-sized protest!”

    Oh I get it, it’s funny because they’re short. (is not funny.)

  5. Blackface is when white people portray African-Americans. The expression “Yellowface” has been used for Asian characters portrayed by non-Asians (like The Last Airbender). Anyone care to venture a similar expression this situation? If the term “dwarves” is used in the movie, tt would be interesting to see whether that term will inspire less protest than the roles of “dwarves” played by taller people.

  6. There’s a weird feedback loop with discrimination against some minority actors. After decades of not getting hired for roles because of discrimination, it means they don’t get much experience as actors. Then even when filmmakers want to cast minorities, they have a smaller pool of experienced minority actors to draw from. There are some old movies where even when they have an Asian person playing a bit part as Asian character, the acting is not very well done — but it’s hard to blame the actor who has probably not been cast in a lot of productions, might have been discriminated against in acting schools, etc. (Not to single out Asian actors. It’s the same with any minority actors who were discriminated against.) I suppose the solution is for filmmakers to take more time for casting, to find the ideal person for the part.

    1. It’s still almost impossible for a Japanese actress to get cast as a Japanese character. Almost all of the principal characters in Memoirs of a Geisha were played by Chinese or other non-Japanese actresses. Quite odd, really.

  7. This is silly. As a thought experiment: should straight people be precluded from playing gay people, and vice versa? I mean there are plenty of gay actors, all gay roles should go to them, right? Rock Hudson, Matt Bomer,  Neil Patrick Harris, etc. should not be able to play straight guys. Eric McCormack and Eric Stonestreet should not be famous for playing gay characters.

    Acting is the job of pretending to be someone or something that you aren’t. The fact is, that “digital make-up” now extends to changing apparent size, as well as other aspect of appearance. I doubt that Peter Dinklage is going to lose much sleep over it. I predict that this protest will be overlooked by many. (sorry, couldn’t resist the cheap joke. I tried.)

      1.  … but who has transcended his rare physical trait to become known as a great actor without any qualifiers attached.

      2. That’s sort of the flip side of this issue, though, isn’t it? (and he was wonderful in “Living in Oblivion” ridiculing the all too common role of little people in cinema.)

    1. Early on in his career Dinklage had actually played alongside someone standing on their knees. He made some of the same parallels that are being made here.

      “‘Why would you put Gary Oldman on his knees? That’s almost like blackface.’ And I have my own opinions about political correctness, but I was just like: ‘It’s Gary Oldman. He can do whatever he wants, and I’m so happy to be here.’ ”

      Let’s not jump to conclusions about how someone would feel about this. It’s not a simple issue.

    2. I don’t think that the experiment is so much as it is maybe an exercise? 

      I believe the exercise as stated above is way too easy, something to use when cutting for appearance more than it is for building core strength or ability.

      When you have an extremely limited job pool contended over by job seekers that are passed over for most other work as a result of their appearance, then you have reached the point at which the analogy fails.

      LGBT roles, different ethnicities, women’s roles, none of these are in short supply anymore, but did this come about through acceptance in casting or as a reflection of acceptance in broader culture? I say both, as writers expanded what could be an onstage or onscreen acceptance of diversity, casting was under pressure to fulfill the intentions of writers and directors to be true to the writing -at the same time and rate- as our culture shifted from exclusion to acceptance of both the character, the actor portraying and the previously excluded groups.

      That isn’t evident in the case of this particular pool. They are not cast otherwise very often but many audition all the same. Doubtless some do not but it is no reason to pass judgement on the whole because some do not wish to stand to possible ridicule and almost certainly regular rejection.

      When 7 major roles that may have otherwise been contended for by this pool for several valid reasons from a writing perspective, from a casting perspective, from a cultural perspective, are given instead to the much larger pool of more widely accepted character actors from more widely portrayed backgrounds, the effect is felt far more than if 7000 roles written as black characters, or LGBT or female, are instead played by persons in blackface, in drag costuming or by male actors portraying women. Likewise while a LGBT, non-white ethnicity or female actor can be considered for any role at all no matter how written with a chance the role be theirs, this limited pool has only the consideration, rarely the chance at fulfillment in the role.

      We haven’t gotten to the point of acceptance with this limited pool as we have with the pools you compare to, not even close. Thereby to stand by cultural mores that demand we attempt to move toward that acceptance, protecting very specific roles for that pool is acceptable and not analogous to discrimination at all. 

      Giving those roles to the accepted groups is a form of equality best reserved for fans of Ayn Rand IMO.

      1.  “LGBT roles, different ethnicities, women’s roles, none of these are in short supply anymore’

        Seriously?  Please list for me the vast supply of starring roles this year for women or LGBT; I’ll let you include the incredible array from last year as well.

        [taps foot]

        Still waiting.

        1. In relation to the job pool/seekers being discussed. Starring roles? The 7 roles discussed I would count as starring roles, but no pools beyond white guy had better count their chickens using starring roles.

          Thankfully most actors don’t require starring roles to earn their keep.

  8. I came to this comment thread prepared for some great one liners. So disappointed.

    1. Not a hoax, Matt “Wee Matt” McCarthy is actually 4′ 1″.  Xeni just has the wrong pic up (the Matt McCarthy pictured is the only first page search results on google).

  9. Why do they keep hiring attractive people to play plain/ugly ones? Heck, why do they keep hiring people who can’t act?

    1. Hey, if you don’t think Ashton Kutcher is the right choice to play Steve Jobs just say so, don’t be a fence sitter with your ambiguities and what.

        1. Totally, but I’m talkin bout Kutcher’s acting ability. Jobs was also super smart, incredibly articulate and quite animated. I don’t see Kutcher doing him justice

  10. It’s not that hard to find seven short-statured actors good enough to play the part. The Tarsem Singh movie “Mirror, Mirror”, another adaptation of Snow White, recently did just that.

    1. Maybe that’s why the casting people on huntsman had to resort to special effects to get the desired look. all the suitable actors were otherwise engaged. {tongue firmly inserted into cheek}

  11. The only way they can right this wrong is by recasting every dwarf to be played by Eddie Murphy. 

    Seriously though, they should protest the hell out of this. They have my full support. 

  12. *shrug* We’ve been having folks from Nebraska fake bad British accents for ages, and no one’s complained.  Accent coaches are routinely brought in to teach people to speak ‘Southern’ rather than hiring *actual Southern people.*  No marching in the streets.  Adam Sandler has been hired instead of comedians for 20 years.

    But it’s little people that prompted the protest?

    I haven’t seen the movie, but it seems possible that they could want their dwarves to have different builds than actual little people.  Peter Jackson’s hobbits weren’t proportioned like little people – it just wouldn’t have worked right.

  13. Neither the image used for this post, nor the website linked on his name in Xeni’s post are the Matt McCarthy associated with this protest.  Both are some guy from Verizon commercials (

  14. I saw something on the making of the movie, and while the hired regular actors for the roll, each had a midget/dwarf body double with a prosthetic face for some of the shots… so actually, they did hire midgets/dwarfs, but not for the actual acting/speaking.

    I have seen the movie, I wouldn’t have known they weren’t small if I hadn’t known beforehand.  I think it’s a very grey area and slippery slope when someone starts saying there are some traits we can only be authentic about when there are plenty of others where we obviously aren’t.  Race no, height/attractiveness/weight/age/yes? 

    1. they did hire midgets/dwarfs, but not for the actual acting/speaking.

      Upstairs Downstairs.

  15. “The bodies of the “tall people” actors will be morphed using special effects tech. ”

    Don’t you mean “have been”?  I mean, I’ve seen commercials for it already, surely it’s been done!

    It is a vexing issue.  I think it’s the kind of thing where you usually SHOULD try to cast people who already fit the roles unless there’s a compelling reason why not.

    1. One of the reasons I wanted to go see Snow White and the Huntsman was that I saw that Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane and Nick Frost were in it. These are actors who have done previous work that I’ve enjoyed. I didn’t know what roles they were playing before I went. I was surprised the first time I saw them in the movie, but they were great in the roles. Could little people have played them? Yeah probably, but these are quality actors with a fair amount of name recognition. I think they were cast because of their acting ability and name recognition. 

      1. So the fact that some actors are little known due to past discrimination is a good reason to continue systematic discrimination. Nice.

        1. For better or worse, “name” actors are cast for most speaking parts in major movies. Are there even eight “name” little people working today? Beyond Peter Dinklage (who is amazing in everything I’ve seen him in) and Warwick Davis (who is pretty good in “Life’s Too Short”), are there six more name actors that could pull this off?

          1. How is this different than an excuse to put white actors in blackface before there were any black actors who had made it into A films?

          2. Apparently, the discussion system here only allows a certain level of nesting, so this is in response to Antinous’ “How is this different” comment, below. 
            Maybe it isn’t really different, but the fact remains that you’re not going to see many unknowns in your average blockbuster. Movie casting has more than its share of unreality. In the case of Snow White and the Huntsman, many of the dwarves in question were getting on in years. So now, we’re looking for 50-60 year old dwarf character actors. None available? Well then, would it be OK to cast younger dwarves and make them up to look older?  Lots of people in movies get made up to be older than their age, right? Isn’t that continuing systematic discrimination based on age? The Bob Hoskins character in this movie is also blind. So now we’re looking for a 60 year old, blind, diminutive, character actor. Make sure that all the accents are genuine, while you’re at it.

            Movies are pretending. We seem to think it’s OK to pretend about some things and not others. 

          3. Antinous said ” You’re grasping at straws to defend an execrable practice.”
            I don’t really think I am. Ageism is totally rampant, and probably affects more actors than this.

            Casting a sighted person in the part of a blind person doesn’t seem _that_ much different to me than this dwarf casting.

  16. Sorry, little people. The dwarves in Snow White are the best things ever in movies this year.

  17. Always hear about actors who are told “this role was made for you”. Apparently that wasn’t the case for this film. *sarcasm

  18. I do think the comparison to other minority actors is apt… but… I don’t think wanting to play Snow White’s dwarves is the answer to the problem. It’s just the same ol’ “Shooting a midget out of a cannon” circus stereotypes.

    The problem is that the _roles_ are very stereotypical. When there is no direct need for some minority character, the character is cast as a straight, white, pretty/handsome, appropriately young… without any direct reason for it. Why should every major block buster be about some “normal height” white person? Why not cast the best person, no matter how he or she looks like? Demand more variety in casting! And demand that scripts are actually written with more of a variety. Why has the romantic lead to be tall? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a big crush on mr Dinklage! You could even get more variety in the stories by casting different types of people… not the same ol’ re-packaged shi… block buster.

  19. If it’s my movie that I’m making, I’ll hire whomever I please. If I want to hire a man to play a woman, or a cat to play a dog, then so be it.

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