Fact Check: 'Snow White' Set Photos Were NOT Fake --- Though They Did NOT Portray Lead Actors

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: 'Snow White' Set Photos Were NOT Fake --- Though They Did NOT Portray Lead Actors Real Photos

Are images used by the Daily Mail that appear to have been leaked from the "Snow White" set inauthentic? No, that's not true: The Daily Beast article that declared Disney described photos as "fake" was updated to include new comments from the entertainment company reversing its earlier statement and clarifying that the photos with the Daily Mail's report were only "unofficial." The Daily Mail did correct one element of its report on "Snow White": the images did not portray Rachel Zegler, who plays the lead role.

The story originated from the June 14, 2023, Daily Beast article archived here. Its title said:

'Snow White' Set Photos That Sparked Conservative Backlash Are 'Fake,' Disney Says

The article continued:

The Daily Mail photos purported to show Rachel Zegler as the princess and a cast of diverse actors as Snow White's seven dwarfs.

This is what the article looked like at the time of its publication:

Screen Shot 2023-07-14 at 7.47.24 PM.png

(Source: Wayback Machine screenshot taken on Fri Jul 14 23:47:24 2023 UTC)

The Daily Beast article referred to the Daily Mail report (achieved here) that had been published earlier that day under the headline:

EXCLUSIVE: Snow White and the Seven... Politically-Correct Companions? First pictures of new Disney live-action remake show princess walking with diverse band of merry men and women after row over using dwarf actors.

The Daily Mail story included photos from the "Snow White" set. The images were also shared by the outlet's Twitter account:

Screen Shot 2023-07-14 at 2.08.46 PM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Fri Jul 14 18:08:46 2023 UTC)

Based on the words of a Disney spokesperson, the Daily Beast refuted the Daily Mail's claim. The entertainment company's representative additionally noted that Disney was trying to make Daily Mail publish corrections.

The article also pointed out that the woman shown as Snow White looked very different from Rachel Zegler who was filmed in this role.

Lead Stories reached out to Daily Mail, and the communication with the outlet revealed that that situation appeared to be different from what the Daily Beast story described.

On July 14, 2023, Mail's Global Head of Compliance Paul Hutchinson said in his email:

We had not, for example, been contacted by Disney for a correction when DB published their article, from my understanding.
According to Hutchinson, Daily Mail did reach out to Disney. Here is how he described the entertainment company's response:
The photos are from the Snow White film set; they were filmed 'additional photos'; that they were using stand-ins for the two leads, Rachel Zegler and Andrew Burnap. When asked what needed correcting, the press officer asked us to make clear that the stand-ins were neither Rachel Zegler nor Andrew Burnap - ie, in our copy, picture captions and preview text.
The Daily Mail representative noted that both the headline and captions were updated.
As of this writing the new Daily Mail title reads:

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.

An update notice was also added at the bottom of the article:

This article has been amended since initial publication to correctly identify the actress portraying Snow White as an extra who stood in for post-production photography. Disney confirm that stand-ins were used for both Rachel Zegler and Andrew Burnap in these images. We are happy to clarify this point.

Replying to Lead Stories, Hutchinson additionally noted that Daily Mail wanted the Daily Beast to issue corrections.

After some time, the Daily Beast updated the story, too. Its new headline reads:

'Snow White' Set Pics Stir Anti-Woke Criticism

Now, the Daily Beast piece opens with the editor's note:

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that after Disney's U.S. spokesperson initially declared the photos published by the Daily Mail were fake, the studio later said the photos were from the production but were not official photos.

Lead Stories reached out to the Daily Beast for additional comments, and an outlet representative only shared the same editor's note.

Other media reporting on the authenticity of the pictures in question, for example, Vanity Fair, updated their stories too, not always describing the specific changes that were made.

"Snow White" is expected to be released in the spring of 2024.

In January 2022, a Disney spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter:

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.

As of this writing, Disney did not reply to a Lead Stories request for comments. It remains unclear how exactly the actors portraying dwarf characters were cast, but the images published by Daily Mail show what looks like a diverse group of people.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about entertainment can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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