In the nearly 25 years since its debut, Hocus Pocus has gained a cult following as a family-friendly Halloween tradition regularly revisited by people who grew up in the '90s. While many can recite the film line-for-line, the film's director, Kenny Ortega, recently revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio almost starred in the film, which would have certainly changed its notoriety.
"The [casting] ladies called me up and they said, 'We're sending you an actor today but he's not available but you're going to fall in love with him but you can't have him,'" Ortega told Entertainment Weekly. "I'm like, 'Why are you teasing me?' They were like, 'You need to see this guy because he'll inspire you and if nothing else, he'll help you find the right guy to play Max.' And they send me in a young Leonardo DiCaprio, who I completely and absolutely fall in love with."
At this point in his career, DiCaprio had already appeared in Critters 3 and was featured in guest spots on the TV series Growing Pains.
"He's just the most sincere and most centered and a wild child at the same time," Ortega shared. "He was feeling awkward. He was like, 'I just feel really bad being here because I'm up for two other movies and I really want them both and I don't want to lead you on.' I was like, 'That's okay, I was already warned. What are the movies?' One of them was This Boy's Life and the other one was What's Eating Gilbert Grape."
These two films ended up launching his career even further, with Gilbert Grape earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
"Obviously, he left and incredible things happened for that young man and to this day, but meeting him awakened me to the kind of spirit and fun and sincerity that I was looking for in an actor and when Omri Katz came around, I fell in love again and he was our Max," Ortega pointed out.
Earlier this year, the film's first writer, Mick Garris, shared with Comicbook.com that the film was also intended to feature younger characters.
"My original version, the kids were 12 years old, when I think Halloween is a more potent and important time in somebody's development," Garris admitted. "The Disney thing was to make them 16."
[H/T Entertainment Weekly]