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‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Stars on The Importance of the Original and Coming Back 29 Years Later

During a virtual press conference in anticipation for Hocus Pocus 2‘s release, star Bette Midler revealed that she had never thought the day of the sequel’s release would come:

“I didn’t until the day finally came. And then I realized, “oh, we’re gonna do this.” This was a dream come true, it really was. I’ve been, I don’t want to say, agitating, but kind of, after I realized it was a phenomenon, I started asking people around my age “don’t you think they would be interested in a sequel?” This was a long time ago, like 15 years ago. So here we are.”

Here we are, indeed. And it’s remarkable to think how many people have attached themselves to Hocus Pocus after the original movie was initially met with poor critical reception and did not perform well at the box office. However, repeat airings on the Disney channel reawakened interest for a sequel and made the original a cult classic. For actor Kathy Najimy, the reason why Hocus Pocus holds such a special place in the audience’s hearts is how generations will pass its charm on to the next:

“I don’t think that anyone could ever decide that everybody would make that kind of movie ahead of time. You make films, and you go on to the next one. But how the audience receives, it is always a surprise. I think there was something in this film, like Wizard of Oz-ish, where the generation shows it to their kids and shows it to their kids and shows it to their kids. So it becomes part of the fabric of the history of the family. I don’t think that anyone could have ever predicted it.”

On coming back to play Billy Butcherson 29 years later, actor Doug Jones explained that the performance was even more physical this time around:

“Billy Butcherson was very physical. I was 32 when I played him the first time. I was 61 playing him the second time. There’s a big difference. My first scene in the movie was stumbling up a staircase into a doorway. I’m like, “Oh! I don’t remember it being this tiring before.”

I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “oh my gosh! Two minutes have passed in the last 29 years.” He came back right away, voice and everything. I don’t know how that happened. But it was kind of magical.”

Hocus Pocus 2 contains several new additions to the cast, including Sam Richardson as Gilbert, who revealed that he wanted to be in the sequel after watching the original:

“I saw the first movie in the theater. And my reaction was like, “I’m gonna be in that.” I’ve always been a huge fan of Halloween. Halloween is a big part of Detroit, Michigan, because we’re a very fall place with fall colors and apple cider. And the world in that film, and the performances, like even as a kid, seemed like nobody was taking it for granted. I saw the grandest performances. So narrowed in, so laser focused. And just the energy between the three is amazing.”

On taking the reins from Kenny Ortega, director Anne Fletcher explained that her vision for the sequel was to honor the original in the best possible way:

“The mission is the story and honoring the first movie, carrying into the sequel, and making sure that I’m honoring these characters for the fans and bringing them into a new generation. The musical numbers are there for story. As I like to say, I didn’t feel like I could compete with “I Put a Spell on You” which Bette and Marc Shaiman wrote. There was an original song. You guys did the arrangement and the lyrics. Can’t compete with that. So I didn’t try.

So we stayed focused on trying to stay more towards the story. And we just had so many fun options of songs to choose from. And that’s where we landed. And who doesn’t want to see Bette Midler sing?”

The movie also contains several newer, emerging stars, including Lilia Buckingham, who plays Cassie Traske, daughter of Tony Hale’s Mayor Traske. Buckingham went on to describe how booking the role changed her life:

“I don’t think I had any expectations. I was just happy to have a job. It was the coolest thing. We were all on Zoom together when I found out that I booked the role. Right when we hopped off, we were done screaming. I literally did not want to be dramatic, but I fell to my knees and was like, “Finally!” And I was supposed to be moving into college in two weeks. It was a huge life change

But it was the best thing I could have asked for. I worked with legends and learned so much. And I made best friends along the way too. So it was everything I could have asked for out of that experience. And now I’m like here in a cool little outfit. And got to be on like a cool little carpet. It’s not real. It’s really not real. But I’m very grateful. And this is a fabulous team.”

Hocus Pocus 2 is now available to stream on Disney+.

[Some quotes were edited for length and clarity]


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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