While celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Disney cult classic, Hocus Pocus, the original film’s director, Kenny Ortega revealed why Leonardo DiCaprio, who was up for an audition for the film, wasn’t cast as Max.
During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ortega recalled first meeting DiCaprio during the Hocus Pocus auditions. Oddly enough, before DiCaprio read any lines, Ortega was told the casting wasn’t going to happen. “[My casting team] called me up and said, ‘We’re sending someone in, but you can’t have him,’” the filmmaker said. “They said, ‘We want you to know who he is, we want you to meet him, he’s agreed to come in to meet you, but he can’t do the role.’”
Ortega also explained that the reason was due to the fact that DiCaprio was offered a role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape with Robert De Niro. Although he was disappointed with the news, Ortega agreed to meet DiCaprio. “He came in and he was just amazing,” the Hocus Pocus director revealed. “So extraordinary and unique – he came and he was stressed. He said, ‘I feel bad that I’m here because I can’t do this because I’m really focused on these other things.”
The filmmaker said that while DiCaprio didn’t read any of Max’s lines, it was clear that he was special. In the end, the role went to Omri Katz and Ortega said when Katz came in, he knew the production found its Max. “He delivered all that I could’ve hoped for in that role. He was adorable.”
Omri Katz Once Admitted He Was High While Filming ‘Hocus Pocus’
In October 2022, Omri Katz revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he was high during the majority of Hocus Pocus’ production. However, the actor said that Ortega pulled him aside when he started missing his marks.
“Kenny comes up to me and practically grabs me by the shirt, and he was like, ‘Are you high?’” the Hocus Pocus star recalled. “And I was like, ‘No,’ and of course I was.”
Katz said while he got through the Hocus Pocus filming, he said it was kind of a wake-up for him. “Like, Omri, you’ve got to be a little more professional, and make sure you hit your cues!”
Katz previously issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly about not reprising his role as Max in the Hocus Pocus sequel. The new film was released last year on DIsney+. “I would have loved to be involved. I feel bad for the original fan base saying we aren’t because I’m sure they wanted to see us reprise our roles.”
Despite not being in Hocus Pocus 2, Katz said he was excited for the film. “I think it’ll be good for everyone who loved the original!” he noted. The actor added, “I hope fans will go see it. I know I will.”
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