Hocus Pocus 2 cast reveals what Thora Birch would've done as Dani in planned sequel return
Though original Hocus Pocus actress Thora Birch didn't reprise her beloved role as Dani in Hocus Pocus 2, the sequel stars who took the reins from the 1993 film's OG roster of teens tell EW what might've happened if a grown-up version of her character appeared in director Anne Fletcher's film as first planned.
In an exclusive interview with EW, actress Belissa Escobedo — who, alongside Whitney Peak and Lilia Buckingham, play Salem teenagers attempting to vanquish the resurrected Sanderson Sisters — recalls an early draft of writer Jen D'Angelo's script that included Dani in a key role.
"She was going to be our schoolteacher," Escobedo explains, noting that, in that version of the script, she doesn't recall a version of Sam Richardson's character, Gilbert, appearing at all. "I remember talking to Anne about it being a thing where she was our teacher, and we went to her for help."
Everett Collection Thora Birch in 'Hocus Pocus'
Sources exclusively told EW in March that Birch was originally approached to play an adult Dani in a "good supporting role" in the project, though she had to back out due to scheduling conflicts with Netflix's Wednesday series, which she also ultimately didn't complete.
EW also broke the news that Birch's original costars Omri Katz and Vinessa Shaw would not appear in the second film as Max and Allison, nor would bullies Ice (Larry Bagby) and Jay (Tobias Jelinek). Still, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returned as the Sanderson Sisters, as did Doug Jones in the role of Billy Butcherson.
"We wanted to weave in all of the people that the fans loved, and when you sat back with all the ingredients and story, you're like, 'how do we make this work?'" Fletcher previously told EW. "It was very difficult to try to have them be a part of it because we did talk about it — painstakingly. You're trying to stay on track with story, even if they came in as a cameo. People would say, 'They could be in the background!' And I'm like, really? You're going to put the leads of the first movie in the background and be satisfied? You're not going to be satisfied, you're going to be angry."
Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+. Read EW's full postmortem breakdown with the three stars.
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