The character of Dani in Hocus Pocus was a little girl who annoyed her older brother Max into taking her trick-or-treating and helping him fight off the Sanderson Sisters once he brought them back to life. As the cast of Hocus Pocus is all grown up now, many were hoping that the Disney+ sequel would show where Dani is now as an adult. As disappointing as it was not seeing Thora Birch revive one of her iconic roles, we now know how Hocus Pocus 2 was originally going to use Dani.
Considering 1993’s Hocus Pocus showed a young Dani with a sincere fascination with her new Salem home and its appreciation for Halloween, it wouldn't be surprising if Dani continued to stay in Salem as an adult. An exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly had Hocus Pocus 2 actress Belissa Escobedo reveal how the the adult Dani originally fit in an earlier draft of the script. She explained:
That would have been a great way to bring Dani back in since she helped defeat the sinister 17th-century witches once before. Who better to ask? As soon as Thora Birch heard about the reboot’s story, she looked forward to seeing what Disney+ came up with and the possibility of being in it. However, any plans to include Birch ended up changing when she backed out due to scheduling conflicts with fellow streaming service project Wednesday. However, due to a family illness, Birch had to depart from Wednesday in the middle of production. As “dismayed” as she was not being able to take part in Hocus Pocus 2, the 40-year-old actress was still looking forward to the fresh take of the cult classic’s sequel.
Thora Birch wasn't the only one of the OG Hocus Pocus actors who didn't return for the sequel. Of course, Hocus Pocus 2 brought back Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy to reprise their iconic roles as the Sanderson Witches, but it would have been nice to find a way for Omri Katz to come back as Dani’s older brother Max, as well as the character of Allison, who also did not return. Hocus Pocus 2’s director Anne Fletcher’s reasoning for not having these OG stars return was because she couldn’t find a way to fit them in with the story. She didn’t want them to resort to being background characters and have fans turned off by this choice. While I can understand her reasoning, I believe there definitely could have been ways to fit in these characters to help the young leads in a similar situation they were once in before. Well, at least we get to see Doug Jones back as Billy the Zombie.
Based on the critical reviews of Hocus Pocus 2, critics really liked seeing the Easter eggs and nostalgia that the sequel honored. That said, the problem numerous critics saw was the sequel's failure to not flesh out the new characters and add something more original to the story. So maybe bringing back too many of the OG characters would have distracted audiences away from the story that was happening in the present day. Otherwise, looking too much into the story’s past would just be another excuse to create a rehash instead of a new story.
Thora Birch may not have appeared in Hocus Pocus 2, but she still supports the new sequel well. You have the chance to see the sequel to this Halloween classic right on your Disney+ subscription.
Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.
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