New Zealand markets open in 2 hours 34 minutes
  • NZX 50

    11,631.60
    -46.15 (-0.40%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.6316
    -0.0006 (-0.10%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    7,487.70
    -40.10 (-0.53%)
     
  • OIL

    73.60
    -3.33 (-4.33%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,783.20
    +1.90 (+0.11%)
     

Hocus Pocus 2 Cast Reveals What Thora Birch's Role Would've Been: 'We Went to Her for Help'

HOCUS POCUS, Thora Birch, 1993; Belissa Escobedo as Izzy, Whitney Peak as Becca, and Lilia Buckingham as Cassie in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2
HOCUS POCUS, Thora Birch, 1993; Belissa Escobedo as Izzy, Whitney Peak as Becca, and Lilia Buckingham as Cassie in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2

Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection; Disney+ Thora Birch in Hocus Pocus (1993); Belissa Escobedo and Whitney Peak in Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Ms. Dennison could've been a character in Hocus Pocus 2.

One of the sequel's new stars — Belissa Escobedo, who plays Izzy — told Entertainment Weekly in an interview alongside castmates Whitney Peak and Lilia Buckingham, published Monday, that character Dani Dennison, played by Thora Birch in the original 1993 film, was supposed to be working at the girls' school in the new movie.

"We almost had her. She was going to be our schoolteacher," said Escobedo, 24. "I remember talking to [director Anne Fletcher] about it being a thing where she was our teacher, and we went to her for help."

"I think it would've been a bigger role if it was played by her," said Peak, 19.

Furthermore, the character Gilbert (Sam Richardson) didn't exist in that version of the script, according to Escobedo. But, added Buckingham, 19, "We had to have a mentor figure."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories.

Thora Birch attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Bullet Train" at Regency Village Theatre on August 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Thora Birch attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Bullet Train" at Regency Village Theatre on August 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Thora Birch

RELATED: How Hocus Pocus 2 Connects to the Original Movie

Birch, 40, told Entertainment Tonight last week that, originally, "There were three options we had for how to bring Dani back, all of which I was excited by."

But unfortunately, "By the time they got around to filming, I was already on something else," she said of why she didn't ultimately board the sequel, which is streaming now on Disney+.

Despite not being in the film, Birch is "excited for the fans who have been begging for Hocus Pocus 2 for years."

"I'll be watching along with everybody else," the American Beauty actress told ET, adding that the first movie "holds such a special place in my heart."

RELATED VIDEO: Hannah Waddingham Says People Will "Fall in Love" with Hocus Pocus 2

Disney+ revealed Tuesday that Hocus Pocus 2 — which comes nearly 30 years after the original — became the streaming service's No. 1 movie debut domestically to date. This is based on hours streamed in the first three days of its release (it premiered Friday).

Bette MidlerSarah Jessica ParkerKathy Najimy and Doug Jones all returned for the sequel. The cast also includes Richardson, 38, Peak, Escobedo, Buckingham, Tony Hale, Froy Gutierrez and Hannah Waddingham.

Last week, Midler, 76, told PEOPLE that the cast and crew knew the story had more to give beyond the beloved first film — and that they all "wanted to do" another.

"It wasn't like a crazy, aggressive push," she continued. "It was just that we felt that it had a life outside of what it had had. And eventually 30 years later, they came to their senses!"

Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+.