Rosie O’Donnell Reveals She Turned Down Iconic ‘Hocus Pocus’ Role
By Krysten Swensen
June 20, 2023
Thirty years ago, Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker brought Winifred, Mary, and Sarah Sanderson to life. The actresses starred in the classic Disney Halloween film, Hocus Pocus. In the film, the Sanderson sisters are accidentally brought back to life 300 years after they were hanged. Their goal? To suck the lives out of the children of Salem, Massachusetts, so they can live forever. Unfortunately for the sisters, they are unfamiliar with modern technology and the thought processes of modern-day teenagers.
After more than three decades, Hocus Pocus 2 was released on Disney+. Midler, Najimy, and Parker all returned to their iconic roles. However, what if you were told that one of the sisters was almost played by another big name? What if Mary Sanderson didn’t have her Kathy Najimy flair because she wasn’t played by Kathy Najimy?
Well, it’s true! Kathy Najimy was not Disney’s first choice. The offer originally went to star Rosie O’Donnell. O’Donnell recently sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter and revealed that she was offered the role and turned it down. Despite the movies being absolute classics, O’Donnell does not regret her choice in giving up the role of Mary Sanderson.
According to O’Donnell, she didn’t want to play a fat witch whose goal it was to kill children.
Because I didn’t want to play the fat, mean witch who eats and kills kids. Even though it was Bette Midler, who was like, my favorite, and Sarah Jessica Parker. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do a part where I would be mean to kids and the joke was about the size. I just felt like I had to say no for that… And I think Kathy’s fantastic in it. You know, she does that face. I don’t even know how she does it.Rosie O’Donnell
While it would have been interesting to see the role played by someone like O’Donnell, Najimy was absolutely perfect for the part. Sadly, it does not like we will see Mary Sanderson again. Disney has confirmed that it is working on a third film in the Hocus Pocus franchise, but Midler, Najimy, and Parker have said that they will probably not return.