Hocus Pocus 2 originally planned to take Thora Birch away into the sequel's land of enchantment. Screenwriter Jen D'Angelo reveals to EW she wrote several versions of the movie's script that included the actress' beloved character, Dani, doing battle with the resurrected Sanderson Sisters as a Salem doomsday prepper of sorts.
D'Angelo, who also wrote the upcoming Sandra Oh/Awkwafina comedy Quiz Lady, explains that she boarded the Hocus Pocus sequel as a huge fan of the original with a soft spot for Birch's Dani, one of three OG characters who squared off against Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) in Disney's 1993 classic.
Disney+ (2) Thora Birch in 'Hocus Pocus'; Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus 2.'
"I was so invested in trying to get Dani back into the story. We had a bunch of different versions of that, too, where she was really a part of it," D'Angelo says, confirming news EW broke in early 2022 regarding Birch's involvement in the sequel. "There were some versions where she was popping in briefly as a cameo. We really tried so hard to make it work, and it was scheduling and the natural chaos of making a movie [that] just didn't work out. I love those characters so much."
After the release of the sequel last September, the film's new cast — including Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham — told EW they read a draft of Hocus Pocus 2 that welcomed Dani back as the girls' schoolteacher. D'Angelo says their memory is accurate and elaborates further on what Dani would've done if Birch had been able to work on the movie.
"She got involved in the hijinks because she spent her entire life keeping her eye out for the Sanderson Sisters," says D'Angelo, who's also currently exploring story ideas for Hocus Pocus 3. "So, when she gets a whiff of their resurrection, she has a whole arsenal of anti-magic. She's like, I've been preparing for this. We definitely still love that idea and, hopefully, there are ways to get that back in."
Everett Collection Thora Birch in 'Hocus Pocus'
D'Angelo also tells EW she recalls writing cameos that would've allowed Max (Omri Katz) and bullies Jay (Tobias Jelinek) and Ice (Larry Bagby) to return for the second film, though those were ultimately cut, too.
As far as brewing a narrative potion for Hocus Pocus 3, D'Angelo teases that she's personally interested in potentially exploring plot lines surrounding Hannah Waddingham's mother witch, who made a brief appearance at the beginning of Hocus Pocus 2.
"We're still in the story phase. We've been working on some ideas, and it's been fun to dive back into that world and we have so many directions in which to go and so many new characters to explore," D'Angelo explains. "We've only scratched the surface of Hannah Waddingham's mother witch."
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