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SYFY WIRE Hocus Pocus

Original ’Hocus Pocus’ star Omri Katz says he was actually pretty high while shooting the Disney classic

“Let's just say, some of those scenes, I was having a good old time.”

By Benjamin Bullard
Hocus Pocus (1993)

Hocus Pocus might just make a great name for some trippy new strain of a certain pointy-leafed plant. After hearing how high original Hocus Pocus star Omri Katz was while filming parts of the original early-‘90s Disney movie, it sounds like a fitting stoner’s tribute.

Still in his teens when the fantasy film premiered in 1993, Katz played Maximillian “Max” Dennison, a kid who unleashes witchy mayhem after inadvertently rousing a trio of wicked spellcasters (Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Bette Midler) from their hex-secured slumber. For Katz, the role apparently wasn’t all that hard to stumble through while ensconced in a blissful fog — though he recently shared with Entertainment Weekly that he flubbed more than a few of his cues…at least the ones he can still remember.

“That was at an age where I started experimenting with cannabis,” Katz confessed. “Let's just say, some of those scenes, I was having a good old time…I’ll tell you what I do remember: I was misperforming and not hitting my keys or marks. Kenny [Ortega, the director] comes up to me and practically grabs me by the shirt, and he was like, ‘Are you high?’ and I was like, ‘No,’ and of course, I was.”

Nearly 30 years on from the movie’s release, and with no role in Disney’s recent Hocus Pocus sequel to promote, maybe time and (let’s face it) a little lucidity has lent the actor — now in his 40s — some confidence in sharing some un-Disney details from behind the scenes of the classic supernatural comedy. Then again, the culture surrounding marijuana use these days isn’t as touchy as it was back then, which no doubt lightens the mood when it comes to ‘fessing up to sky-high teenage indiscretions.

Even today, though, it’s probably a Bogart move to show up to a movie set while walking on Mary Jane-induced sunshine, and Katz admits he learned an all’s-well that-ends-well lesson about approaching his career like a pro. “We got it done,” he said, “but that was kind of a wake-up call, like, Omri, you've got to be a little more professional and make sure you hit your cues!”

Katz and original Hocus Pocus stars Vinessa Shaw, Thora Birch, Jason Marsden, Sean Murray, and Tobias Jelinek don’t appear in this year’s Hocus Pocus 2, though Najimy, Parker, and Midler return to reunite their old-school madcap coven alongside also-returning star Doug Jones. Though Katz says he’d “have loved” to have been a part of the sequel, he’s super-chill about sitting back and cheering the home team on as a spectator.

“I think it'll be good for everyone who loved the original!” he told EW. “I hope fans will go see it. I know I will.”

Now legal in all 50 states, both Hocus Pocus 2 and its 1993 predecessor are ready to stream anytime at Disney+.

Looking for more supernatural action? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire and Chucky, which are both airing new episodes on Wednesdays. Want something a bit more ghostly? SYFY's SurrealEstate is hard at work on Season 2 and returns next year.