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Where Are They Now: The “Hocus Pocus” Edition

hocus pocus

With Halloween right around the corner, many people are revisiting their favorite scary movies and shows, intent on reliving every jump and scream. For some people, those movies include the cult classics Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, and all their subsequent sequels. Others, however, gravitate toward funnier movies to provide them with Halloween thrills. One of those movies is 1993’s Hocus Pocus, which tells the story of Max Dennison and his sister Dani, who unwittingly awaken three witches on Halloween night and must prevent them from sucking the life force from the children of Salem. While this movie tends to lean toward humor more than horror, it is undoubtedly a Halloween classic, made all the more memorable by its stellar cast. The witches, otherwise known as the Sanderson sisters, are played by the amazing actresses Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson), Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson). In addition, the movie provided newcomers Thora Birch, Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw, Sean Murray and Amanda Shepherd an opportunity to demonstrate their acting chops and introduced audiences to the multi-talented Doug Jones. Altogether, the movie’s gifted cast combined with its witty writing made the movie a Halloween tradition.

Nevertheless, it’s been twenty-two years since Hocus Pocus first premiered, and it stands to reason that although the movie is a timeless classic, the cast itself did not, by any means, stay suspended in time. They moved on to other projects and other ventures, some continuing with acting and some turning their attention elsewhere. So, where is the cast of Hocus Pocus now? Let’s light the black flame candle and find out!

Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson)

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There is little doubt that Bette Midler is a powerhouse in the film and music industries. In a career that has spanned almost half a century, Midler has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and won three Grammy awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards and a special Tony Award. She has sold 30 million albums worldwide, gaining her four Gold, three Platinum and three Multiplatinum albums by the RIAA. She made her feature film debut in the 1979 movie The Rose, which earned her a Golden Globe as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Afterwards, she starred in a string of box office hits, which include Down and Out in Beverley Hills, Beaches, The First Wives’ Club, The Stepford Wives, For the Boys and Gypsy, the latter two earning her two more Golden Globe awards.

In addition, she has made a name of herself in the music industry, starting with her 1972 debut album The Divine Miss M. Her songs dominated the Billboard Top 10 charts with each subsequent album. Her other albums include Bette Midler, Songs for the New Depression, Broken Blossom, Thighs and Whispers, No Frills, Some People’s Lives, Bette of Roses, Bathhouse Betty, Bette, Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook, Cool Yule and It’s the Girls, which is her most recent album.

Nowadays, most of her television appearances tend to be as a musical performer, with one of her most recent appearances being on the show Pretty Little Liars, and she is still pushing the envelope musically. In 2008, she signed a residency contract to perform exclusively in Las Vegas, which ended in 2010. Rumors that she and her follow witchy sisters, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, will be returning for a Hocus Pocus sequel have also been percolating for years. Recently, Midler joked on Twitter that the reason the sequel has taken so long is that Disney has had trouble finding a virgin. Hopefully, however, we see the long-awaited Hocus Pocus 2 actually be made in the next few years! Midler, Najimy and Parker have already revealed that they would be happy to return—now it’s on you, Disney!

Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson)

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Actress, comedian and producer Kathy Najimy, who played the middle Sanderson sister with a keen sense of smell, was best known for her Off-Broadway shows with Mo Gaffney, working as the duo Kathy & Mo. One of the shows became a HBO comedy special and earned her a nationwide fan base. It wasn’t long before she began to make a name for herself in movies and television as well. Her first major role was Sister Mary Patrick in the 1992 comedy Sister Act, a role which she reprised in the sequel the same year that she did Hocus Pocus. From 1997 to 2000, she was part of the cast of the TV show Veronica’s Closet. Also in 1997, she scored a role as the voice actress for Peggy Hill in the hit comedy-cartoon King of the Hill, a role which she maintained until the show ended in 2010. Some of other television credits include guest roles on Numb3rs, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Franklin and Bash and Inside Amy Schumer. In 2001, she co-starred in the comedy Rat Race alongside Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, John Cleese and Cuba Gooding Jr. Fans can expect to see her in the upcoming movies Forsaking All Others, A Change of Heart and BearCity 3, as well as the new TV show The Jamz as the character Dan.

Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson)

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Sarah Jessica Parker is most well-known for playing Carrie Bradshaw in the hit HBO show Sex and the City, as well as the two Sex and the City movies. She was also an executive producer on that show and won two Emmy Awards—one for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2001 and another for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series in 2004—while the show was on the air. Some of her other film credits include Footloose, Firstborn, L.A. Story, Honeymoon in Vegas, Ed Wood, The First Wives Club, The Family Stone and Failure to Launch. She also appeared in the TV series Glee as Isabelle Wright. Fans can expect to see her in the upcoming TV series Divorce as the character Frances, and in the upcoming movie All Roads Lead to Rome.

Omri Katz (Max Dennison)

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Omri Katz’s career post-Hocus Pocus was fairly brief. The actor who played Dani’s too-cool-for-school older brother appeared as Tony Hemingway in the TV series The John Larroquette Show from 1993—1995, in a total of six episodes, and guest-starred on the shows Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital. He has also appeared in two short films: Journey Into Night (2002) and Perfect Girl (2006). He has no projects currently on the horizon.

Thora Birch (Dani Dennison)

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Many people don’t remember that Thora Birch’s first on-screen role was as the apple-cheeked blonde in a Quaker Oats commercial. Since then, she’s made quite a name for herself as an actress. In addition to starring as Dani Dennison in Hocus Pocus, she also starred in the movies Monkey Trouble, Alaska, American Beauty, The Smokers, Dungeons and Dragons, The Hole, Silver City, Winter of Frozen Dreams, Pregnancy Pact and most recently the film Petunia. She’s guest-starred on the shows Promised Land, Touched by an Angel, Night Visions and My Life as a Teenage Robot. Fans can anticipate seeing her in the new TV series Colony as the character Morgan.

Vinessa Shaw (Allison)

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Who could forget Allison, the smart and beautiful girl who captured Max’s heart? Post-Hocus Pocus, Vinessa Shaw has had an incredibly successful acting career. Some of her film credits include the movies Coyote Summer, Eyes Wide Shut, Wayward Son, 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Hills Have Eyes, 3:10 to Yuma, Puncture, Dark Around the Stars and After the Fall. She has also guest-starred on House, M.D. and CSI: NY, and has had recurring roles on Vegas and Ray Donovan. Her most recent film, which was released earlier this year, is the romance Bereave, in which she plays the character Penelope.

Sean Murray (Thackery Binx)

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Thackery Binx was always one of my favorite characters in the movie—but that might be because I have a penchant for talking cats! Sean Murray, who portrayed this beloved character in human form, went on to have a very prosperous career. Right after Hocus Pocus, he scored the role of Zane Grey Hart in the TV series Harts of the West. After that, he did several TV movies, including Trial by Fire, The Lottery, For My Daughter’s Honor and The Sleepwalker Killing, and landed guest spots on the shows ER, Touched by an Angel and Boston Public. In 2000, he took a recurring role on J.A.G as Danny Walden. Then, he landed the role of Timothy McGee on NCIS, a role which he continues to play to this day.

Jason Marsden (Binx the Cat)

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Part of the magic of a talking animal is the voice actor’s ability to convey personality as well as emotion, and thankfully Jason Marsden was able to do that in spades. Since then, he’s done voice-acting for a multitude of cartoons, some of which include The Legend of Tarzan, The Weekenders, Status Shock, Justice League, Teen Titans, Kim Possible, The Replacements, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, GI Joe Renegades, The Fairly OddParents, Young Justice, The Garfield Show and Transformers: Rescue Bots. He’s also guest-starred on several TV shows, including Ally McBeal, Even Stevens, The Jaime Foxx Show and Will and Grace. In 2012, he appeared as the character Kenny in the movie Blue Like Jazz. Most of his work, however, has been voice-acting for video games, some of which include Star Wars: Jedi Knight—Jedi Academy, the Tak series, Xiaolion Showdown, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Marvel Superhero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Altogether, he’s had an incredibly prosperous and diverse career.

Amanda Shepherd (Emily Binx)

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For a long time, people were crediting Jodie-Amy Riviera, a famous YouTube sensation who goes by the name of VenetianPrincess, with playing Emily Binx, but it was recently revealed that this was inaccurate. Although Riviera was in Hocus Pocus, she only played a small role. The real person who played Emily Binx is Amanda Shepherd, a child star who was cast in hundreds of commercials and almost scored the role of Claudia in Interview with a Vampire. She has since retired from acting and is working as a real estate agent in Malibu.

Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson)

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Billy Butcherson was another one of my favorite characters in this movie. Played expertly by Doug Jones, Billy was the most likeable zombie that I’ve ever seen on-screen, and I firmly believe that he wouldn’t be so memorable if another actor had played him. Since Hocus Pocus, Doug Jones has been involved in countless movie and television projects. In the 90s, he guest-starred on the shows The Outer Limits, Keenan and Kel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Party of Five. He’s also done quite a few movies, such as Men In Black II, Doom, Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Qurantine, Legion and Greyscale. He scored recurring roles in the TV shows The Neighbors and Research, as well as the role of The Ancient in The Strain and Cochise in Falling Skies. He recently guest-starred on Arrow and The Flash as Jake Simmons, aka Deathbolt, and can be seen in the new horror movie Crimson Peak as Edith’s mother, Lady Sharpe. He is rumored to be returning as Abe Sapien in the upcoming Hellboy III. Fans can also expect to see him in the movies Midnight Run, Nobility, The Legacy of Avril Kyte, My Cousin’s Ghetto Wedding, Ouija 2 and How Do You Say Dad in Greek.

Larry Bagby (Ernie)

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Larry Bagby, who played Ernie, one of the bullies, had a very fruitful career after Hocus Pocus. From 1997 to 1999, he played the recurring character Larry on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s also guest-starred on several other TV shows, including J.A.G., CSI, Malcolm in the Middle, NCIS and Ray Donovan. In 2008, he scored the role of Frank Ellis on The Young and the Restless, a role which he continued to play until 2009. In addition to television, Bagby has also been in many feature films, some of which are Walk the Line, The Trial, Age of Dragons and Hypnophobia. He is currently in the process of filming a new comedy called The Job.

Tobias Jelinek (Jay)

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Last but not least, we have Tobias Jelinek, who played Jay, the other bully in the movie. After appearing in Hocus Pocus and as a Motorcycle Gang Member in 1998’s Batman and Robin, he disappeared from acting until 2007. Many of his projects upon returning to the industry were short films, among them The Brass Teapot, Bittersweet Paradise and The Adventures of Mouse and Nerdboy: Part One. In 2010 and 2011, he appeared in the TV movies King By Night and Reconstruction, and appeared in a few episodes of the TV series Pretend Time as various characters. Following that, he scored guest roles on Southland, The Young and the Restless, Shameless and The Mindy Project, as well as the role of Father Gibbons in the movie The Possession of Michael King. Fans can expect to see him as the lead agent in the new TV show Stranger Things, which is in the process of being filmed.

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