As this year’s Dragon Con wound toward its end, a bit of nostalgia was finding its way to the main programming channel. Early afternoon Monday, three of the cast members of Hocus Pocus—Doug Jones (Billy), Larry Bagby (Ernie “Ice”) and Tobias Jelinek (Jay)—sat down for a chat about everyone’s favorite Halloween movie. Which, incidentally, was originally released in July, a month after Jurassic Park, and the same day as Free Willy. Timing, it’s not always perfect!
Luckily for them, and for us, once the proper season outside rolled around, and thanks to repeated airings on The Disney Channel (and later, on Freeform), Hocus Pocus had found its audience. The popularity keeps growing, in fact, as people who were kids when it came out are showing it to their kids and creating new generations of fans. The magic of the 25th anniversary special two years ago showed the depth of the cult classic’s popularity, when everyone came together—the cast, fans of all ages from around the world, and even some big-name celebrity fans (for instance, Vanessa Hudgens). It meant a lot in terms of investment and in sentiment for the studio to put that together, to show what a phenomenon this little movie is.
During the panel, the banter between Bagby and Jelinek didn’t skip a beat. They spent much of the time playing off each other and talking over each other, like you could imagine Jay and Ice would be doing as adults, best friends who are forever bonded over having seen some things.
A fan question brought about a serious discussion, as they were asked if any of them had been bullied, especially given Bagby and Jelinek’s characters, who are without question bullies. Jelinek recalled how his high school years started out traumatically. A guy started bullying him and a friend right at the start of their high school years, to the point where they felt they had to run off at lunch when the bully arrived to avoid him. Jelinek said that the fear lingered, and because of it, he is fascinated with bullies, why they are like that. Bagby, also as a freshman, had a scary experience when some older guys threw a large box over him and started to hit him. His experience ended with his making a friend who had heard about what happened, a guy who turned into somewhat of a bodyguard after that to support him, and they are still friends.
Bagby and Jelinek have done anti-bullying campaigns together, and they emphasized the need to speak up, to say something if people are being bullied, that everyone deserves support and safety, especially in school. Jones, who described himself as lanky and skinny and therefore a target, took some of the control back from his bullies by leaning into humor, trying to direct the verbal bullying into a different energy.
Closing out the panel, Jones would like to beg everyone to not believe every piece of fanart (i.e. movie posters) about Hocus Pocus 2. Everyone—absolutely everyone—has said they’d love to do a second movie, and there has been a lot of talk about it on a production and studio level, but it has not happened (yet!), so no, it’s not coming out next week, sadly. No matter what the amazing poster you just saw said.
But, Jones suggested earlier in the panel that, if instead of a sequel there was a reboot, he’d like to take on the Garry Marshall “Master Devil” role and, without missing a beat, added that Bette Midler (Winnifred Sanderson) should be his wife, Petunia. I’ll leave you with that excellent image.