Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw not returning for Hocus Pocus 2
Neither the Black Flame Candle nor a spell from Winifred Sanderson's beloved book can resurrect a pair of Hocus Pocus OGs for Disney's upcoming sequel to the 1993 Halloween classic.
EW can exclusively reveal that actors Omri Katz and Vinessa Shaw — who previously played Salem teens Max and Allison in the first film — will not return to be tormented by the Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) in Hocus Pocus 2.
Sequel director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) tells EW that they tried to weave the teens back into the story, but that "it was difficult" — even in a cameo capacity, which she feels might've been a distraction from the new movie's plot.
"We wanted to weave in all of the people that the fans loved, and when you sat back with all the ingredients and story, you're like, how do we make this work?" Fletcher explains. "It was very difficult to try to have them be a part of it, because we did talk about it — painstakingly. You're trying to stay on track with story, even if they came in as a cameo. People would say, 'They could be in the background!' and I'm like, really? You're going to put the leads of the first movie in the background and be satisfied? You're not going to be satisfied, you're going to be angry."
Outside of the actresses behind the witches, Doug Jones is the only returning actor from the first movie. The Shape of Water actor once again steps into the decrepit body of Billy Butcherson, Winifred's zombified ex-lover, to help thwart the ladies' reign of terror across contemporary Salem.
In March, EW also exclusively confirmed that Thora Birch, who played Max's younger sister, Dani, in the prior installment was initially considered for a supporting role in Hocus Pocus 2, but scheduling conflicts with her ultimately nixed role in Netflix's Wednesday series prevented her from joining.
We also revealed that fellow Hocus Pocus actors Larry Bagby and Tobias Jelinek — who portrayed the fan-favorite high school bullies who terrorize Max throughout the first film — similarly do not reprise their characters in the sequel.
Though a black cat makes a brief appearance in the Hocus Pocus 2 trailer, Fletcher said that it is not a resurrected version of Thackery Binx, but instead a new feline friend. EW reported in June that Jason Marsden, the voice of Thackery Binx in animal form, will not return to voice the character.
New additions to the cast include RuPaul's Drag Race queens Kahmora Hall, Ginger Minj, and Kornbread "The Snack" Jeté as drag versions of the sisters, Sam Richardson as the owner of a magic shop operating in the old Sanderson home, Tony Hale as the mayor of Salem, and Ted Lasso's Hannah Waddingham in a mystery role.
Hocus Pocus 2 follows a new group of Salem teens (Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, and Whitney Peak) who resurrect the Sanderson Sisters for a new reign of terror nearly 30 years after Max, Allison, and Dani did so on Halloween night.
Disney+ will release Hocus Pocus 2 via its streaming service on Sept. 30.
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