The Sanderson Sisters are back for “Hocus Pocus 2,” and they have been waiting for 29 years to conjure a few new spooky spells and devilishly fun musical numbers. The highly anticipated sequel follows a similar plot to the original but for an entirely new generation, one that celebrates a young and more diverse cast while embracing all of the cheesiness of the first film and adding a few fun twists as well.
ThatsItLA had the chance to talk to the cast and crew of “Hocus Pocus 2” where they shared their thoughts on reviving the cult classic, the legacy of the original, and what the films mean to the new generation.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Bette Midler, who plays Winfred Sanderson, said. “I’ve been, I don’t want to say agitating, but kind of like after we realized after I realized it was actually a phenomenon, I started asking people around my age and people like that, ‘don’t you think they would be interested in a sequel?’ This was like 15 years ago, something like that. So here we are.”
Kathy Naimy, who plays Mary Sanderson, could have never predicted that the first “Hocus Pocus” could be as popular as it is now, even with the critical pan and poor box office performance. “I don’t think that anyone could ever decide that ahead of time, or else everybody would make that kind of movie,” she said. “I think you make films, and you go on to the next one. And however the audience receives it is always a surprise.”
Naimy compared the legacy of “Hocus Pocus to another classic film involving another wicked witch. “I think, it’s like Wizard of Oz ish, where the generation shows it to their kids, and they show it to their kids, and they show it to their kids. So becomes this part of the fabric of the history of the family,” she said.
For director Anne Fletcher, it was all about staying true to the story and the characters while also expanding on the mythology without having to retread some familiar ideas. “So the mission, in general, is the story and honoring the first movie and caring about the sequel and making sure that I’m honoring these characters for the fans and bringing into the new generation,” she said. The musical numbers are there for the story. As I like to say I didn’t feel like I could compete with ‘I put a spell on you.’
“So we stayed really focused on trying to stay more towards the story, and we just had some Many fun options of songs to choose from,” Fletcher added about choosing Blonde’s “One Way or Another.’ “That’s where we landed and who doesn’t want to see Bette Midler sing.”
Of course, “Hocus Pocus” is so much more than musical numbers and scary witches. It’s also about Billy Butcherson, the zombie who was awoken from his slumber by the Sanderson sisters. Played by Doug Jones, Billy returns for even more zombie mayhem but doesn’t exactly help the sisters the same way he did in the first. Excited about his return, Jones talked about how he was “a zombie before zombies were cool” and noted the differences between his zombie act that the more contemporary ones. “I was not a brain-eating zombie. That’s a big difference.”
Jones then revealed he had to spend two hours a day in the make-up chair in order to become Billy. “Yeah, well, prosthetic pieces are made ahead of time. So getting them on me is the last step. And I got to hide behind a layer of rubber. I don’t know how you guys look so good.”
While it was exciting to hear from the original cast sharing their thoughts on the film and its impact on pop culture, those who were coming into the franchise were just as enthusiastic. “Halloween is the best holiday. Aside from that, I just have always loved spooky Halloween movies because I feel like it can be extremes on both ends,” Belissa Escobedo, who plays Izzy, Becca and Cassie’s best friend, said. “And I think it’s amazing that those like, you have one end of horror, and then you have this end of like camp. And they all bridge together in the same genre and like come collectively to celebrate this fun holiday.”
For Lilia Buckingham, getting the role of Cassie was a life-changing experience. “I worked with legends and learned so much. Then I made best friends along the way too. And so it was really everything I could have asked for out of that experience,” she said. “And so 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.”
Speaking about the themes of sisterhood, Whitney Peak, who plays Becca, said that there are a few interesting parallels between the film’s trio of friends: Becca, Izzy, and Cassie, and the Sanderson sisters. “I think there is just like an interesting parallel of the older witches, but also, the three of us is just like, three completely different walks of life and just personality and individuality and then just kind of finding this bond where you can be selfless and completely comfortable with each other,” she said. I think, from Becca, just her sense of valuing really the people that she keeps around her.”
Escobedo saw a lot of that in Izzy as well, as she is the kind of friend that you would want to have in your corner, especially when it comes to fighting witches. “I think I just admire that she just has this like, blind loyalty to these girls, like, will do anything for them, no questions asked, totally would go against three evil witches like for you,” she said.
“But you also have a lot of like self-assuredness too. It wasn’t like you were just a lackey. Like, you were actually like very focused,” Naimy chimed.
Perhaps, the one most excited to join “Hocus Pocus 2” was Sam Richardson. The actor who plays Gilbert, a shop owner who has turned the Sanderson sister home into a tourist trap, spoke about how the first was directed towards him. “So I’ve been a fan of movies since it was in theaters. You know, and so like to get to be in the movie as a fan of the movie from growing up and getting to watch these three and these three and Doug, as a fan in my eyes and watching myself it’s so many levels of inception,” he said. “It’s very meta.”
“Hocus Pocus 2” debuts exclusively on Disney+ on September 30, 2022.