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‘Hocus Pocus’ Actress Explains Surprising Change in Sequel

Disney fans and, more specifically, Hocus Pocus fans, are running amok after the new Hocus Pocus sequel has premiered on Disney+ (over 20 years after the original witchy film’s premiere) — but not because of the new movie’s quality!

Fans of the Halloween cult favorite from 1993 are indeed enjoying the movie (even though critics are certainly not, with the new movie receiving middling reviews), but eagle-eyed Hocus Pocus enthusiasts are all asking one big question: what happened to the classic sideways Mary Sanderson smile?

Fortunately, Kathy Najimy (the comedic actress who plays Mary Sanderson, the middle child in the trio of Sanderson sisters and witches) has just shed some light on the subject!

Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker - Hocus Pocus 2

Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker have returned for Hocus Pocus 2. Credit: Disney

Hocus Pocus 2 stars the actresses Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as they return for their original roles (Winifred Sanderson, Mary Sanderson, and Sarah Sanderson) — and yes, Billy Butcherson makes an appearance, too.

The trio of witches in this creepy comedy focus on killing children in Salem, Massachusetts whenever they have been awakened by the lighting of the ominous Black Flame Candle — but in this new sequel, there are some new heroines on the scene in the form of actresses Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Najimy revealed that she actually has a very simple reason for changing her character Mary’s famously off-kilter smile (which is shown below). Mary now smiles her wonky smile on the left side of her face instead of the right — simply because she finds that easier!

hocus pocus 2 kathy najimi

Kathy Najimi is back in Hocus Pocus 2 — with one noticeable difference. Credit: Disney Dining

“It’s on the other side mainly because it’s so hard for me to do it on the side I did it on 30 years ago,” Najimy explained. “I’m sure the fans are going to go into deep detail about why it’s on the other side. It’s just something I came up with the first week. This is a big comedy, so you don’t have to be subtle or have a 40-page Shakespearean backstory,” she added in the Entertainment Weekly article.

“We can justify it,” the actress continued in the Entertainment Weekly interview. “because there’s a scene at the beginning where Winnie slaps me, and my mouth goes to the other side, and then she slaps me again and it goes to the other side, and sticks.”

Hocus Pocus clip

Credit: D23

So there you have it: a simple reason for a simple witchy switch! As it happens, Najimy actually improvised the unkempt smile back in 1993 on set. Have you seen the sequel yet, and did you watch the 1993 movie first?

If your enthusiasm for the Hocus Pocus series has only just gotten stronger after watching the new movie on Disney+, then keep in mind that you can actually rent a replica of the Sanderson witches’ cottage this October — for a reasonable price!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!