This massive star was very nearly in Hocus Pocus and we can’t quite get over it

Posted by
Nicola Rachel Colyer
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Over two decades have passed since hit Halloween flick Hocus Pocus first graced our screens and its fans have remained fiercely loyal ever since. We’ve been teased with a sequel, we’ve been promised a remake, but our love for the original shows no signs of abating.

The cult classic starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as three witches who make it their mission to suck “the lives out of little children” has everything you could possibly want in a film – or so we thought.

Yes, it ticks the box for a catchy score, the costumes are epic and a heavy dose of feminism is the icing on the cake. But you know what it doesn’t have? Leonardo DiCaprio.

However, it turns out that it came very close.

The film’s director Kenny Ortega recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly, and explained that the young DiCaprio was a front runner for the role of Max, the teen responsible for bringing the Sanderson sisters back from the dead – but it wasn’t to be.  

Leonardo Di Caprio Hocus Pocus
A young DiCaprio turned down the role of Max in Hocus Pocus

Ortega explained that he was told by casting that they were sending an actor that he would love, but that he shouldn’t get too attached as the actor wasn’t actually available.

Although that seems a bit odd to us, apparently those responsible had the best of intentions – they wanted Ortega to see “this guy” because it would inspire him to find the right person to play Max.

And so, DiCaprio went along to the audition. And naturally he bowled the director over.

Recounting the experience, Ortega says that DiCaprio was “just the most sincere and most centered and a wild child at the same time.”

“He was feeling awkward,” he continues. “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.’”

Ortega put DiCaprio out of his misery, revealing that he was aware of the circumstances. And it turns out that those responsible for sending the rising star to the audition had been right all along – because even in his absence, DiCaprio had a significant impact on the film.

“Meeting him awakened me to the kind of spirit and fun and sincerity that I was looking for in an actor,” the director explained. “And when Omri Katz came around, I fell in love again and he was our Max.”

Di Caprio turned down the job in favour of roles in This Boy’s Life, which saw him win multiple awards, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (for which he received an Oscar nomination), so we can’t really fault his decision.

Even so, we can’t help but wonder what could have been…

Images: REX Features