Kathy Najimy Explains Mary Sanderson’s Backward Smile in Hocus Pocus 2

Just in time for the Halloween holiday season, Disney+ debuted the new film Hocus Pocus 2 to great success. The movie set the new record for the strongest domestic debut for a movie on Disney+, and fans have been mostly satisfied with the sequel. Continuing the story of the Sanderson Sisters, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, was something more than three decades in the making. That’s kind of a long time, and while some things remain exactly the same, there have been some noticeable changes to these characters over 30 years later.

For example, some fans have noticed one particular change with the Najimy’s Mary Sanderson character. Back in the original Hocus Pocus, Mary most often has a crooked smile on her face. As explained in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, this was something Najimy improvised for her character just ahead of filming. The trademark smirk is back in Hocus Pocus 2, but with a key change, as it’s now backwards from how it looked in the first movie. Najimy says the reason for this is that it’s just much easier to switch the smile to the other side of her face at this point in her life.


“It’s on the other side mainly because it’s so hard for me to do it on the side I did it on 30 years ago. I’m sure the fans are going to go into deep detail about why it’s on the other side. It’s just something I came up with the first week. This is a big comedy, so you don’t have to be subtle or have a 40-page Shakespearean backstory.”

That may be the behind-the-scenes reason for the switch, but to provide a storyline explanation, another reason is given for the change in the actual film, and Najimy feels that should be sufficient for anyone feeling bothered by the backward smile.

“We can justify it because there’s a scene at the beginning where Winnie slaps me, and my mouth goes to the other side, and then she slaps me again and it goes to the other side, and sticks.”

The Sanderson Sisters Return in Hocus Pocus 2


Anne Fletcher directed Hocus Pocus 2 using a screenplay by Jen D’Angelo. The film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Doug Jones reprising their roles from the original movie alongside newcomers Sam Richardson, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Tony Hale, and Hannah Waddingham. Because the film has been a hit, Najimy also recently joked that she will come back for another sequel in another three decades with even more changes to her character. From a separate interview with People, Najimy said, “I think if we did it 30 years later again, well, there would be walkers and canes involved. The flying might just be a little one-foot blip off the ground.”

Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+. You can see the official trailer for the film below.