On Wednesday, September 28, the day after the purple carpet premiere in New York City, the cast and creators of Hocus Pocus 2 sat down for a global virtual press conference to answer questions about the long-awaited sequel to the Halloween staple and fan favorite, 30 years in the making.
Here are seven things we learned:
There’s something special here.
When co-star Kathy Najimy was asked why the original Hocus Pocus (1993) has become such a classic, she responded, “I think there was something in this film, Wizard of Oz-ish, where the generation shows it to their kids and shows it to their kids and shows it to their kids. It becomes part of the fabric of the family’s history.” Director Anne Fletcher added that she refers to the original as a “perennial,” and everyone agreed that’s a great word for it.
Co-star Bette Midler said she realized 15 years ago what a phenomenon it was and wondered back then when the sequel was happening. “This was a dream come true.”
The pandemic made it even more special.
Executive producer Adam Shankman said that part of the appeal of doing the sequel was bringing friends together, something that was needed, especially after the pandemic: “When I was asked to be a part of any of this, I was just like, ‘yes, please.’ A lot of it had to do with wanting to do something with my friends. You make new friends and new pods in every project that you do, hopefully, but this period of our lives has been incredibly isolating, and I hadn’t gotten to see people I know and love in a really long time. So, to be able to have the opportunity to be forced together was really, really special to me.”
The costumes are still magical, too.
Fletcher noted that the original costumes (which won Best Costumes at the 1994 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Awards) are in a museum in Seattle but have deteriorated too much to be used, so costume designer Salvador Perez, Jr. had to start from scratch, re-creating the classic looks.
Fletcher pointed out that there is a ton of symbolism in the designs on the witches’ outfits and cloaks, but she didn’t want to talk too much about it, wanting audiences to figure out the meanings on their own. All the iconography in the costumes are tied to each character’s identity and power. There is also a lot of meaning in the colors of the stones in the matching necklaces of the girls, who play the next generation in the film.
When actor Doug Jones was asked why he thinks his character of Billy Butcherson from the original film is such a fan favorite, he replied, “Probably because I was a zombie before zombies were cool.” But he likes to point out his character was not a brain-eating zombie, he was a good and kind zombie. For Jones, it was difficult revisiting such a physical role 30 years later. “I was 32 when I played him the first time. I was 61 playing him the second time, big difference. My first scene in the movie was stumbling up a staircase into a doorway. I’m like, [GASPS], I don’t remember it being this tiring before. But Billy came back. When 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.”
The new generation keeps the legacy alive.
Actress Belissa Escobedo (Izzy) has worked on American Horror Story and admits that she loves the spooky genre. “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. I think it’s amazing that you have on one end a kind of horror, and then you have on this end a kind of camp. And they all bridge together in the same genre and come together collectively to celebrate this fun holiday.”
As part of the audition process, Escobedo, Whitney Peak (Becca), and Lilia Buckingham (Cassie) were asked to scream, which became quite cathartic and bonding for them. All three admit there is an interesting parallel to the three older witches—it’s still all about friendship and sisterhood and sticking together, no matter what.
Sam Richardson had an agenda.
Fletcher relayed that actor Sam Richardson was hired without ever meeting her. She admitted that’s very strange, as most actors insist on meeting a director before committing. When she asked him, out of curiosity, why he signed up without meeting her, he said it was because he loved Hocus Pocus that much. “My whole career was just a plan to get into the sequel. And I did.”
Najimy also reminded everyone that she and Sam Richardson “have a history,” along with Tony Hale, who’s also in the film. “It was a little mini Veep reunion.”
There’s still something to say.
Midler was asked what is so special about reprising these characters 30 years later, and she admitted it’s all about the sisterhood. “There’s so much going on in this world that we never really realized until maybe the last 25, 30 years, maybe 50 years, things have changed for women, but things have not changed fast enough. I think these three characters are, in a strange and odd way, quite positive for women. First of all, they’re very funny, which women are not allowed to be or are not supposed to be. And they’re intensely loyal to each other, even though their relationships are… It’s a very broad range of emotions that they live through. But their bond is very, very strong. In any situation where women are together, a bond of friendship and sisterhood is really, really important. This movie sort of shores it up.”
Najimy echoes Midler’s sentiments: “There’s very little hesitance in our ideas and the things that we’re going to do. We don’t sit around, we are like, this is what we have to get done. We’re going to get it done, even if it’s to eat children. Whatever our mission is, there’s not a lot of second-guessing, which I don’t think you see a lot.”
Midler adds, “No second guessing. We’re very decisive. We’re a very decisive group which also shows that women can be decisive.”