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Leonardo DiCaprio almost starred in Hocus Pocus – here’s why he turned it down

It’s a Halloween staple in homes across the world each October, but it turns out Hocus Pocus could have been a very different film

By now everyone knows the tale of Max Dennison, the virgin that lit the black flame candle on All Hallows Eve and resurrected the Sanderson sisters.

Or if you don’t, you should, so go stream Hocus Pocus on Netflix right now.

The Disney film is a must-watch at Halloween, with witches on broomsticks, talking cats, zombies and wicked spells all playing a major part in the plot.

But while the film has a stellar cast – featuring the likes of Bette Midler , Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker – it turns out another huge Hollywood name almost starred in the movie.
For years after the film’s release, it was rumoured that Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio once auditioned for the role of Max.

And in case you didn’t already know, that rumour is 100 percent true.

Hocus Pocus director Kenny Ortega previously told Entertainment Weekly all about it in an interview and admitted that the Titanic star was the original inspiration for the character.

He said: “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.’ 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. He’s just the most sincere and most centered and a wild child at the same time.”

But young Leo was feeling rather awkward about his audition – for a very good reason.

The actor knew he wouldn’t be able to commit to the project, because he was waiting to hear back for two other roles and wouldn’t have time to juggle a third.

Ortega explained: “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.
“Obviously, he left and incredible things happened for that young man, 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.”

Leonardo was just 18-years-old when he auditioned for a part in Hocus Pocus and in 2014 he told Variety he was offered “more money than [he] ever dreamed of” to play Max Dennison.

Looking back on it he revealed that he couldn’t believe he was brazen enough to turn it down at that age – for a part he hadn’t even gotten yet.

He reminisces: “I don’t know where the hell I got the nerve. You live in an environment where you’re influenced by people telling you to make a lot of money and strike while the iron’s hot. But if there’s one thing I’m very proud of, it’s being a young man who was sticking to my guns.”