'Hocus Pocus' Stars: Where Are They Now?

4:00 AM 10/31/2017

by Katherine Schaffstall

Take a look back at what the actors who played the Sanderson sisters and other characters have been up to since the beloved film was released.

Courtesy of Photofest

Halloween favorite Hocus Pocus actually hit theaters in the middle of the summer, on July 16, 1993.

And while the Kenny Ortega-directed film -- starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as three sister witches from the 17th century brought back to life -- wasn't critically acclaimed or a box-office blockbuster, annual Halloween airings on cable TV have made the movie beloved by young viewers.

The film begins with the Sanderson sisters being hung by the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. But Winifred's (Midler) spell book casts a curse that will resurrect the sisters on the condition that a virgin light the black flame candle during a full moon on All Hallows Eve. Over the 300 years since the Sanderson sisters' death, a young boy who's been turned into a cat, Thackery Binx, guards the candle to prevent it from being lit.

In 1993, though, Los Angeles transplant Max Dennison (Omri Katz) lights the candle in an attempt to impress his crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw). The Sanderson sisters return to Salem, and Max, Allison, Thackery and Dani (Thora Birch) make it their mission to stop the witches from sucking the lives out of innocent children.

In honor of Halloween and the recently announced television remake, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back what spooky activities the cast members have been up to since the film hit theaters.

  • Winifred "Winnie" Sanderson, portrayed by Bette Midler

    Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest; AFP/Getty Images

    Winnie is the leader of the Sanderson sisters. While she is the brains of the trio, she also shows off her singing abilities with a memorable rendition of “I Put A Spell On You” during a Halloween party. Midler was an accomplished singer and actress before she took the role of Winnie in Hocus Pocus. Since 1993, Midler has appeared in the films The First Wives Club, That Old Feeling, Isn’t She Great, The Stepford Wives, The Women, Parental Guidance and Freak Show. In 2000, she starred as the titular character in the CBS sitcom Bette for one season. Midler has released seven studio albums since 1995 including her most recent one in 2014 called It’s the Girls! The actress has also appeared in the 2013 Broadway play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers and most recently in the 2017 run of Hello, Dolly!, which she won the Tony Award for best lead actress in a musical for her role as Dolly Gallagher Levi. In 2016, the actress told Billboard that she's interested in doing a Hocus Pocus sequel“You don't get to see women doing slapstick too much, and in the movie you can see that we're having a blast,” she said"For the life of me, I can't understand why there's not a sequel."

  • Mary Sanderson, portrayed by Kathy Najimy

    Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest; Walter McBride/Getty Images

    Najimy portrays Mary, the middle Sanderson sister. The actress spent 13 seasons voicing Peggy Hill on the Fox animated series King of the Hill. The actress’s other television credits include recurring roles on Numb3rs, American Dad!, Make It or Break It, Inside Amy Schumer, Veep and Younger. She also starred as Captain Sandra Russo in season 4 of A&E’s Unforgettable. Her film credits include roles in Nevada, Attention Shoppers, The Wedding Planner and A Madea Christmas. Najimy reunited with Hocus Pocus director Kenny Ortega in 2015 for the Disney Channel original movie Descendants. The actress has also shown interest in reprising her role as Mary Sanderson. In 2014, she tweeted out a link of an article about Midler stating she wants to make a Hocus Pocus sequel. The actress responded, “Hocus people, Bette says it best. Listen to your elders.!”

  • Sarah Sanderson, portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker

    Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest; Steve Granitz/WireImage

    Sarah Jessica Parker portrays Sarah, the youngest and boy-crazed Sanderson sister. Parker may be best known for playing Carrie Bradshaw in HBO’s Sex and the City, winning Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for the role. The series came to an end in 2004 but spun off two movie sequels in 2008 and 2010. Parker’s other film credits include roles in The First Wives Club alongside Hocus Pocus co-star Bette Midler, 'Til There Was You, The Family Stone, Failure to Launch, Smart People, New Year’s Eve and All Roads Lead to Rome. She currently stars as Frances Dufresne in the HBO series Divorce. Outside of the acting world, Parker has made a name for herself in fashion with her shoe line, SJP Collection. While Parker has undoubtedly done well for herself since the 1993 film, she is another cast member who is willing to do a sequel. While talking to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live in 2016, the host asked about the potential of a second Hocus Pocus film. The actress responded, “I would love that. I think we’ve all been fairly vocal about being very keen, but that hasn’t created any groundswell of movement.”

  • Max Dennison, portrayed by Omri Katz

    Walt Disney Pictures

    Katz plays Max Dennison, the new kid in town who is not the biggest Halloween fan. After lighting the cursed black flame candle, Max accidently resurrects the Sanderson sisters. Throughout the film, his peers constantly remind him that he is the virgin responsible for the messy situation. His turn as Max remains his most well-known role, though Katz has since made guest appearances in The John Larroquette Show, Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital. His last acting credit is from the 2002 short film Journey Into Night as Sean. The retired actor currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Israel.

  • Dani Dennison, portrayed by Thora Birch

    Walt Disney Pictures; Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

    Dani is the sometimes annoying yet lovable younger sister of Max. She creates a strong bond with Thackery Binx as the group attempts to stop the Sanderson sisters. Birch was only 11-years-old when Hocus Pocus came out. Her childhood film success continued with roles in the films Monkey Trouble, Clear and Present Danger and Alaska. She went on to play Jane Burnham in the critically acclaimed drama American Beauty. Birch's following film roles include The Hole, Ghost World, Slingshot, Train, Deadline and Above Suspicion. Birch has also worked in television, including leading roles in the Lifetime movies Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story and The Pregnancy Pact. In 2016, she landed the recurring role of Morgan on USA Network’s Colony. While talking with ABC News in 2015, Birch reflected on the success of Hocus Pocus. "I'm really surprised, but humbled and happy to be a part of something like that. I had the best time on that film -- maybe more than any other movie I worked on,” she said.

  • Allison, portrayed by Vineesa Shaw

    Walt Disney Pictures; Charley Gallay/Getty Images for

    Shaw plays Allison, Max’s crush, who loves Halloween. Her mother used to run the Sanderson sister museum, which is where the black flame candle is located. Shaw has since appeared in the films Eyes Wide Shut, 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Hills Have Eyes, Come Out and Play, Side Effects, After the Fall and Clinical. The actress was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for her role as Emmy in the 2007 film 3:10 to Yuma. In 2014, she had a recurring role on Ray Donovan. Shaw announced her first pregnancy with husband Kristopher Gifford in August 2017 on Instagram and included an homage to Hocus Pocus, according to People. The actress posted a drawing of the three Sanderson sisters and a positive pregnancy test accompanied by the text, “Winnie, I smell… a child.”

  • Thackery Binx, portrayed by Sean Murray

    Walt Disney Pictures; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

    While Jason Marsden voices the cat version of Thackery, the live-action version of the character is portrayed by Sean Murray. Thackery is a teenager in 1693 who tries to save his sister after she falls victim to the Sanderson sisters. The witches curse Thackery and turn him into an immortal cat. Throughout the film, Thackery acts as the Sanderson sister expert to help Max and the others stop the witches. Since his role in Hocus Pocus, Murray has made guest appearances on the television shows Harts of the West, ER, JAG, Touched by an Angel and Boston Public. Murray has portrayed the role of Timothy McGee on NCIS since 2003 and he recently brought the role to an episode of NCIS: New Orleans in 2017. Murray spoke with E! News in 2014 about a potential sequel to Hocus Pocus. "If they wanted me to be involved with it in some sort of way, I would probably say yes," he said. "Hocus Pocus has a great following and was a great part of when I was a kid." 

  • Billy Butcherson, portrayed by Doug Jones

    Walt Disney Pictures; David Livingston/Getty Images

    Billy is Winnie’s love interest and a zombie that Winnie recruits to help the Sanderson sisters absorb the youth of unsuspecting children. Jones is a former cartoonist who is known for his work in the horror genre. The actor’s film credits following his role in Hocus Pocus include Mystery Men, Adaption., Hellboy, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, My Name is Jerry, Legion, John Dies at the End, The Bye Bye Man and The Shape of Water. Jones has guest starred in many television shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Criminal Minds, The Neighbors, Falling Skies and Teen Wolf. He appeared as Jake Simmons/Deathbolt in the CW series' Arrow and The Flash in 2015. He currently stars as Lt. Saru on CBS All Access’s Star Trek: DiscoveryWhile discussing Hocus Pocus with ABC News in 2015, Jones affectionately referred to the film as "the Wizard of Oz for Halloween."

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