Some things never change. Hocus Pocus is back with an all-new sequel nearly 30 years after the original hit theaters, but the Disney+ movie cast says the biggest change is that the film actually has fans this time around.
“Even when it became a phenomenon, [a sequel] wasn’t considered,” Bette Midler told Entertainment Weekly for a feature published in early September. “Ten years on, when I started seeing the returns, I was surprised, and I started making calls. We got no interest at all, and a few years after that, I remember I needed the costume, and I asked the studio to loan it to me, but they couldn’t. My friend suggested that I go online, so I looked, and I was shocked because I’d never seen so much Hocus Pocus merch. I bought the costume, and I came as Winnie here and there, for this benefit or that benefit, and I realized there was something going on.”
The Emmy winner, 76, didn’t give up. “As I watched it progress, I’d call the studio once a year to ask, ‘How about it?’ It wasn’t until about three years ago that they advocated for it, and movement started,” Midler revealed. “It picked up when they decided that they wanted it to be on a streamer. They never looked back until they got their movie.”
The stars had no trouble finding their characters a few decades later. Doug Jones, who plays zombie Billy Butcherson, said it was shockingly easy to get back into the grave.
“Billy came back to me immediately, it was frightening how he’s been alive while I’ve been playing other characters all these years,” the Oscar winner told EW. “He was pretty decrepit to start with, and I [come] out of the grave looking exactly like two minutes have passed. I drank some formaldehyde. The prosthetics are the exact same, makeup artist, Tony Gardner … It was the exact same wig. They had it on a dummy on display for 29 years, they put it back on my head in the same style, it didn’t even need a touch-up.”
The original Hocus Pocus cast members who changed the most are the ones who were children when the franchise started — but they won’t return for the sequel. That includes Thora Birch, who played 8-year-old Dani Dennison. “I was just a little dismayed I wasn’t able to make it,” the actress, now 40, told Entertainment Tonight in September. “I was working on something else when they were filming … otherwise I was definitely going to be there on set with the girls.”
Only four cast members from the 1992 movie returned for Hocus Pocus 2. Scroll down to see how they’ve changed between films: