1993's Hocus Pocus wasn't a box office hit for Disney but over the years it has grown from a cult classic to a Halloween must-watch for many. In recent years, Disney has started to lean into the growing popularity of Hocus Pocus, introducing merchandise, theme park stage shows and even a sequel that was released on Disney+ last year.
Hocus Pocus turned 30 years old this year and in celebration of its anniversary, new details about the film's behind-the-scenes and casting have started to unearth. One story that has come to light involves Leonard DiCaprio, who actually auditioned for a role in the film.
Hocus Pocus director Kenny Ortega recalled the story of DiCaprio's audition while speaking to Entertainment Weekly:
""[My casting team] called me up and said, 'We're sending someone in, but you can't have him,'" Ortega remembers. "They said, 'We want you to know who he is, we want you to meet him, he's agreed to come in to meet you, but he can't do the role. He's being offered a movie with [Robert] De Niro and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.'""
Despite being unavailable for the movie, DiCaprio still came in to audition for the role of Max Dennison, a teenage boy who, while taking his younger sister out trick-or-treating inadvertently resurrects the witches by lighting the Black Flame Candle.
Ortega described the young actor as "just amazing — so extraordinary and unique" — even though DiCaprio didn't even read any lines for Max. DiCaprio simply being in the room was enough to convince Ortega of his talents.
But as fate would have it, DiCaprio was already committed to other projects, paving the way for another young, talented actor.
"I have to say, when Omri came in, there was something there that was just so perfect and that I feel, to this day, he delivered all that I could've hoped for in that role," Ortega said. "He was adorable."
As someone who has watched Hocus Pocus countless times, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Omri playing the role of Max. He just nails the angsty teenager vibe and is so perfectly 90s.
I'd love to see a version of Hocus Pocus with a young Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role, but I don't think anyone can complain about the job that Omri did with the role. There's something delightfully cheesy about his performance that I feel would be lost with Leonardo DiCaprio.