Plus three other tales from the beloved Halloween classic's production

By Samantha Highfill
October 19, 2017 at 12:28 PM EDT
  • Movie

In 1993, Hocus Pocus put a spell on all of us, one that only seems to grow more powerful year after year. At this point, Hocus Pocus is so beloved that Freeform has included it on every night of its 13 Nights of Halloween line-up (which starts Thursday!). So, in honor of the fan favorite, EW asked director Kenny Ortega to take us back to the making of the movie that gave us the Sanderson Sisters (and so, so much more). Here’s what he had to say:

The blooper you didn’t see

“They had this rig above the Sanderson Sisters’ cottage. One of the first times that we went up to shoot with the girls on the vacuum cleaner and the brooms — their first take-off — we had some computer glitches and they were all stuck up in the air in these strange positions that had everybody concerned, but also losing it because the girls were cackling. Then they were like, ‘Okay it’s not funny anymore, get us down from here.’ They lost their power as witches and their sense of humor as witches. It was awkward but they were all brave and did all their own stunts. They were just incredible to work with.”

The full Leonardo DiCaprio casting story

“The [casting] ladies called me up and they said, ‘We’re sending you an actor today but he’s not available but you’re going to fall in love with him but you can’t have him.’ I’m like, ‘Why are you teasing me?’ They were like, ‘You need to see this guy because he’ll inspire you and if nothing else, he’ll help you find the right guy to play Max.’ And they send me in a young Leonardo DiCaprio, who I completely and absolutely fall in love with. He’s just the most sincere and most centered and a wild child at the same time. He was feeling awkward. He was like, ‘I just feel really bad being here because I’m up for two other movies and I really want them both and I don’t want to lead you on.’ I was like, ‘That’s okay, I was already warned. What are the movies?’ One of them was This Boy’s Life and the other one was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Obviously, he left and incredible things happened for that young man and to this day, but meeting him awakened me to the kind of spirit and fun and sincerity that I was looking for in an actor and when Omri Katz came around, I fell in love again and he was our Max.”

Disney didn’t like the look of the Sanderson Sisters

“The ladies came in with idea for their characters. They came in with ideas for makeup and hair. Bette [Midler] threw on those buck teeth and had that crazy wild hairstyle and disappeared as we knew her. When Disney looked at the makeup test and the hair test, they came back and said, ‘You need to pull back on this, there’s no Bette Midler there.’ Then Kathy [Najimy] came in with the sort of that bit of paralysis and Disney at first was really concerned that we had gone too far and that we were losing the women in the characterizations and makeup. But they stood strong. We managed to gain the support of the company and went forward.”

Billy Butcherson really did have dust in his mouth

“[Doug Jones] had a balloon inside of his mouth with dust in it. When he cut the stitches and opened his mouth, those were real things coming out of his mouth. Those weren’t visual effects like we would do simply today. That was all actually happening.”

Hocus Pocus

  • Movie
  • PG
  • Kenny Ortega