Hocus Pocus Put A Spell On A Young Belissa Escobedo — & Look At Her Now
The lifelong fangirl says working with the Sanderson sisters was “unreal.”
In Elite Daily’s series At The Moment, celebs dish on their current projects, pop culture hot takes, and everything taking over their group chats. In this piece, Belissa Escobedo discusses her role in Hocus Pocus 2 and how much it meant to her as a major fan of the original film.
Belissa Escobedo’s life is pretty surreal right now. The night before our interview, she was at the New York City premiere of her new Disney+ movie, Hocus Pocus 2 the first red carpet event she’d ever attended, which included all her co-stars and their families. Our early morning interview the following day coincided with a hair and makeup appointment to get her ready for a full day of press. Reflecting on her whirlwind week, she calls the experience “a crazy ride.”
It’s also a ride that’s been decades in the making for the 24-year-old actor; watching the original 1993 Hocus Pocus film has been an annual spooky season tradition for her and her mom for as long as she can remember. “We would watch it every Halloween,” she says. “We would have Halloween dinners before we’d go trick or treating, and we would always play that movie, every time.”
Naturally, auditioning for the highly anticipated sequel was nerve-racking for the superfan, whose internal monologue went something like, “‘Don’t get your hopes up,’ but also like, ‘Oh my God, this is awesome.’”
When she finally landed the role, Escobedo desperately tried to keep it cool and professional, but her mom wasn’t having it. “She’s off in the background, like, ‘Can I start screaming?’” Escobedo gave in. “I was like, ‘OK, we can scream now.’ And we did.”
Escobedo admits she still can’t believe she actually got to work with the original movie’s stars, Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. “It’s unreal when people ask me [about it],” she says. “It was amazing. I learned so much from them just by watching. They’re so kind, and they just brought it every single day.”
Just watching how Midler, Najimy, and Parker worked taught Escobedo a ton. “They were very loving about their part and respectful on the set,” she says. “I think those are lessons that, as young actors coming up in the business, are good to see.” She also picked up the habit of reading novels while on set because it’s what Parker did. “She went through like four books [on set], always reading,” Escobedo says.
Escobedo’s co-star Whitney Peak (who plays main character Becca) was also a source of joy. “We got so close,” Escobedo says. “We were like a comedic little duo. We were riffing off of each other.” Peak had already filmed the first season of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot when Hocus Pocus was in production, and Escobedo was amped about it. “I was such a Gossip Girl fan [growing up] ... so I was obviously excited,” Escobedo says. “I was like, I want all the gossip, girl!” (She admits Peak spilled some tea about the show, but what did she divulge? That’s a secret Escobedo will never tell.)
Warning: A light spoiler for Hocus Pocus 2 follows. Of course, we can’t talk about Hocus Pocus without talking about *that* post-credits scene, in which it’s revealed there’s another black flame candle in the old Sanderson house, just waiting to be lit. Does it mean another sequel is in the cards? “Watching that in the theater was my first time seeing that,” Escobedo says. “The three of us — me, Lilia [Buckingham, who plays Cassie], and Whitney — were like, “Did you see that? Does that mean...?”
So, TBD on a Hocus Pocus 3. But if she’s asked to come back for another film? “I mean, if they’re putting it out there, we’re willing to take it. Absolutely.”
Below, Escobedo answers some rapid-fire questions about what’s going on in her life at the moment.
This section has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Do you prefer horror or comedy?
Horror, for sure.
Favorite Halloween candy?
Favorite fall food?
There’s a Mexican dish called albondigas, and that’s got to be my favorite.
Who is your acting role model?
America Ferrera. She was the first time I ever saw myself represented onscreen.
Who do you dream of working with?
America, for sure. And oh my gosh, Barbra Streisand.
Describe your sense of humor in three words.
Awkward, slow, and a little mean.
Go-to movie theater snack?
Lifesavers — the chewy ones.
What’s a current TV show that you can’t stop watching?
What We Do In The Shadows and Abbott Elementary.
Who was the last person you texted?
It was actually Whitney.
I burp without saying “excuse me.”
What’s the last thing that you read that stuck with you?
Klara and the Sun [by Kazuo Ishiguro]. It was a really beautiful book.
Favorite IG account?
Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+.