Rosie O’Donnell Explains Why She Turned Down Hocus Pocus Role

Rosie O’Donnell explains why she turned down a role in Hocus Pocus. The movie, released back in 1993, follows an infamous trio of witches known as the Sanderson sisters, who were accidentally resurrected one Halloween night. To preserve their youth, the witches targeted Max (Omri Katz) and Dani Dennison (Thora Birch), intending to steal their life forces and wreak havoc on Salem, Massachusetts. Hocus Pocus has become a holiday classic in the years since its debut, and audiences have praised the performances of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy.


During a recent interview with THR, O’Donnell reveals that she was approached for the role of Mary Sanderson, the witch played by Najimy. The actor explains that she decided to turn down Hocus Pocus due to the jokes surrounding Mary’s appearance, and because she did not want to be mean towards children. Read O’Donnell’s comments regarding Hocus Pocus below:

Yes. Because I didn’t want to play the fat, mean witch who eats and kills kids. Even though it was Bette Midler, who was like, my favorite, and Sarah Jessica Parker. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do a part where I would be mean to kids and the joke was about the size. I just felt like I had to say no for that.

Why The Casting In Hocus Pocus Works

The Sanderson sisters excited to see something in Hocus Pocus 2

Hocus Pocus works because of the dynamic between its three stars, and their return was important for the 2022 sequel. Midler, Parker, and Najimy are accomplished performers, and their ability to reprise those roles after nearly three decades is part of what made Hocus Pocus 2 a success upon its release. Some of the more memorable scenes from both installments are the musical numbers of “I Put a Spell on You” and “One Way or Another,” which features Midler’s vocal talent as well.

When it came to the role of Mary Sanderson, Najimy brought a lot to the character that makes it difficult to envision anyone else playing her. It is interesting to think about how different the part could have been if O’Donnell accepted the offer. Mary has a lot of comedic moments in Hocus Pocus and Najimy, who appeared in Sister Act a year before, gave her several distinct traits, including some hilarious facial expressions. Without those traits, Mary, and her relationship with her sisters by extension, would be altered.

The original cast might assemble once more in the upcoming Hocus Pocus 3. As the series grows, it is worth wondering what the Sanderson sisters might have looked like if O’Donnell actually portrayed Mary. That on-screen relationship between the actors is likely a big reason for the franchise’s ongoing popularity, so perhaps it is best that the casting for Hocus Pocus went the way that it did.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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