If you’re a fan of the original Hocus Pocus film, you probably already know that the sequel is available to watch on Disney+ (perfect timing for the spooky season). In this sequel, the Sanderson sisters, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, return to continue draining the souls of children for amusement. Returning to her role as the zany, stuttering Mary Sanderson was a treat for Najimy, although a rather simple acting one. She’s not a really deep character, but she does have her interests, says Najimy to Vogue. She wants Winnie [Midler’s character] to like me more than anybody else and she likes eating children. To some extent, Winnie is like me… My apologies, Winnie… You are absolutely correct, Winnie!
Najimy’s performances in Hocus Pocus and other cheesy classics cement his status as one of the best character performers working in Hollywood today. For example, she voiced Peggy Hill from King of the Hill (“I’m Peggy Hill—ho yes!”) and as the irreverent Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act. In light of the release of the sequel, we couldn’t help but check up with Najimy to learn more about her experiences working on the film, her thoughts on becoming a homosexual icon (“I adore the gays!”), and the significance of her continued activist work.
You’re an Actual New Yorker. How Long Have You Lived Here?
Growing up in San Diego, I relocated to New York in the ’80s to perform in my feminist, off-Broadway, two-woman play, The Kathy & Mo Show. The film industry lured me back to Los Angeles in the 1990s. I settled down, started a family, and ultimately decided that Dan and I wanted our daughter to experience adolescence in New York rather than Los Angeles. Although I like the City of Angels, the demands here are different from those in Hollywood. She planned to murder me as I slept, but then she changed her mind, took the train with her guitar in tow, and started jamming with other artists. Here we are, at the advent of her second album!
Talk About Hocus Pocus 2! I Saw It Yesterday. How Was It, 30 Years Later, to Step Into Mary Sanderson’s Shoes?
It was scary and simple. I put on the costume (with the help of fantastic hair and makeup artists) and did the [crooked mouth] act, and it all came flooding back. There was no Stanislavski procedure for re-entering the witches, as far as the three of us can tell. It’s effortless, like reconnecting with an old friend (or foe).
How Was It to See Bette and Sarah Jessica Again in the Workplace?
Indeed, I found it to be a fascinating read. All of us now have children and various careers after what seems like an eternity but is actually just about 30 years. Maybe you don’t know this about me, but when I was younger I was a total Bette Midler sycophant. I did stuff like the leap from a mountain, onto a piano, and onto the stage during her human rights performance at the Hollywood Bowl, only to have security whisk me away when I ran backstage to find her dressing room.
At the Greek Theatre once upon a time… I used to wear a huge white fluffy rabbit costume and sing telegrams for a living. I dressed up as a bunny and went backstage after the show to deliver a message to Bette Midler. With a telegram reading, “I love you, from Kathy,” I serenaded her and presented it to her. As in, “Kathy? “Who is Kathy?” Since 1980, we’ve been able to call each other pals. I enjoy spending time with her family and we often go out to eat together. She is a very bright, funny, and forthright person.
This Newfound Hostility Toward Gay Marriage and Abortion Legislation is Scary
My longtime advocacy for gay marriage rights was a source of great pride and satisfaction. My speech on gay marriage on The Kathy & Mo Show ended in tears when we received it. And now there’s a real danger that loving couples won’t be able to tie the knot. What we can do is get educated and keep posting, especially if your audience is spread across many states. Additionally, consider contacting distant relatives and having a conversation with them about the importance of freedom, love, and compassion.
Explore our website journalization.org for some additional information.