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Hocus Pocus 2's Doug Jones Jokes About Being a 'Slobbering' Bette Midler 'Fanboy' on Original Film's Set

Doug Jones, Bette Midler
Doug Jones, Bette Midler

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty; Mark Sagliocco/WireImage Doug Jones; Bette Midler

Billy Butcherson is back from the grave, again — and he's setting the record straight.

In a new interview with PEOPLE ahead of the release of Hocus Pocus 2, set 29 years after the original film, Doug Jones talks reprising his role as the morally sound zombie ex of Winifred Sanderson (Bette Midler), who once had an affair with her sister Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker).

But in the new movie, "We find out what really happened back when," Jones, now 62, tells PEOPLE of the relationship between Winnie and Billy in the 17th century. "It was just touched on in the first movie and this time we actually talk about it more and Billy gets to rant a bit when Billy gets a bee in his wig. It was fun to play."

Jones teases a "delicious" and "hilarious" continuation of "the bitterness between Billy and Winifred" in Hocus Pocus 2.

"The little side affair with Sarah is mentioned, but it doesn't feel like a love lost either," he adds.

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RELATED: Hocus Pocus 2 Producer Says Original Trio's Dynamic Was Like a "Snap Back in Time" on Set

Almost three decades after first portraying Billy in 1993's Hocus Pocus, Jones is proud to don the zombie makeup and (same!) wig again to help the good guys attempt to defeat the Sanderson sisters (Midler, 76, Parker, 57, and middle sister Mary, played once again by Kathy Najimy).

"We're sitting there looking exactly like we did 29 years ago, [Bette's] makeup, wig. In fact, I think all the ladies looked younger and more vibrant than they did in the first movie. I don't know how they all pulled it off, but I had a layer of rubber to hide behind," he says, joking in addition, "I had an excuse to look the same."

And despite Billy's tumultuous past with Winnie, in real life, Jones — also known for his iconic creature roles in movies like Pan's Labyrinth (2006), The Shape of Water (2017) and Hellboy (2004) — couldn't have been more honored to work alongside Midler, both in the original Hocus Pocus and the sequel.

"I had been a fan of hers," he says of the time before filming the first movie. "She was in the middle of that run of all those successful Disney Touchstone movies: Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune and Big Business. It was just one after another."

"After all that and then also her recording career, I had all of her albums and listened to them often. To see her face-to-face, I was just a slobbering fanboy," Jones says.

US actor Doug Jones arrives for the 5th annual Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Film Awards at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, February 28, 2022.
US actor Doug Jones arrives for the 5th annual Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Film Awards at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, February 28, 2022.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Doug Jones

RELATED GALLERY: See the Hocus Pocus Cast Then and Now

While Jones hadn't spoken to Midler since the first film, she contacted him and invited him to reprise his role as Billy even before the upcoming sequel, as part of her 2020 Hocus Pocus-themed charity event In Search of the Sanderson Sisters: A Hocus Pocus Hulaween Takeover.

"I ended up enlisting the help of my original makeup artist, Tony Gardner, to get me back into my Billy Butcherson look so I looked exactly the same again for that little special," he recalls. "We filmed at his creature shop and he set up a green-screen backdrop. His daughter is a great director and brought a camera crew with her, so we shot mine a bit more professionally than I could have ever done on my own. Bette was incredibly happy with that and so grateful."

And "the first thing" Midler told him on the Hocus Pocus 2 set was just how much: "She grabbed my hand, she hugged me and said, 'Thank you so much for participating in that again. You were so sweet, and so loving, and so funny.' "

Jones remembers feeling like "the odd kid" in the first movie, which also starred Thora Birch, Omri Katz and Vinessa Shaw, while this time, he "had more social rapport" on set.

"Not that it was ever bad — it wasn't. I was just this newer actor 29 years ago, who was just so excited to be working among these giant geniuses," he tells PEOPLE.

Otherwise, the experience was "seamless." As Jones explains "It was as though no time had passed at all, and yet everyone was commenting on where we had all been in the meantime because 29 years, all of our careers had gone many places since then."

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The movie is set "29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallows' Eve," according to a plot summary by Disney."

Aside from Jones, Midler, Parker and Najimy, 65, the new cast includes Tony Hale, Sam Richardson (whom Jones teams up with for much of the film), Hannah Waddingham, Whitney Peak and Belissa Escobedo.

Recalling how the Sanderson sisters walking back on set as being like the Beatles returning, Jones says, "The crew seeing Billy walking through the door the first time, back with the wig and that long coat and looking exactly the same, you would've thought that Elvis had returned."

"All of the young folk on our crew grew up with the first movie. Here walks in Billy from that movie, and they were all just gobsmacked: 'Can I get a selfie with you? I know I'm not supposed to,' " he says. "That added a different element to my experience — a really sweet one."

Hocus Pocus 2 is streaming Friday on Disney+.