That Time Leonardo DiCaprio Auditioned For Hocus Pocus

Leo in Gilbert Grape

Max lighting the candle in Hocus Pocus

As we delve further into the month of October, the time has come for many of us to watch our favorite Halloween movies and TV episodes. And there's few more beloved Halloween movies than Disney's Hocus Pocus, which usually airs regularly on Freeform at the end of the month. The 1993 classic movie features iconic performances by Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, but the storyline was also very focused on the characters Max and Dani. The former was played by child actor Omri Katz, but it turns out that Leonardo DiCaprio was also up for the part. Director Kenny Ortega recently recounted that process, and why he knew they probably wouldn't land the younger for the lead character.

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.

Kenny Ortega's comments to EW highlight what a hot commodity Leonardo DiCaprio was at a young age. It looks like Leonardo DiCaprio's acting chops were apparent from the jump, leading to a variety of exciting movie roles at his fingertips. And while it would have been great to see him light the black flame candle in Hocus Pocus, he probably made the right choice acting opposite Johnny Depp and snagging an Oscar nom for What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Leo in Gilbert Grape

Because Leonardo DiCaprio was a rather successful child actor before breaking out into the main stream as an adult in Titanic. He was a series regular on Growing Pains and portrayed a harrowing tale of teen drug abuse with Basketball Diaries. He could have became even more of a 90's icon by playing Max Dennison in Hocus Pocus, but it all seemed to work out perfectly in the end. Omri Katz was many a 90s kids' first crush, and DiCaprio had a life of heartthrob-ness in his future.

Hocus Pocus will be playing over on Freeform throughout the end of October, and an upcoming TV movie has just been announced as well.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.