Hocus Pocus 2 Star Doug Jones Says Playing Billy Butcherson Again After 29 Years Was 'Magical'

Back in '93, a California boy named Max Dennison (Omri Katz) conjured the Sanderson sisters and the world was never the same. Over the past 29 years, the witchy shenanigans of Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) have become synonymous with Halloween, and fans of the cult classic wait all year to watch them stalk and devour innocent children. In fact, the film remains so popular that Disney will relight the black flame candle again, almost 30 years after Max, and allow the Sandersons to run amok, amok, amok on September 30, 2022.

Longtime fans of "Hocus Pocus" can rattle off plenty of things they love about the movie: Winnie's sarcasm, Sarah's ditziness, and Mary's vacuum broom. Although the chemistry and silly antics of the three witches could have entertained audiences for a while, the misfit gang of their adversaries made the film a cult classic. Cocky Max, precocious Dani (Thora Birch), loyal Thackery Binx (Jason Marsden), and, most of all, wacky Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones).

"Hocus Pocus 2" not only features the return of the original Sanderson sisters, but also sees Winnie and Sarah's former lover once again rising from the grave. During a virtual press conference for "Hocus Pocus 2" attended by /Film, Jones said that returning to Billy Butcherson after 29 years was "magical."

Here Lies Billy Butcherson

In "Hocus Pocus," Winnie resurrects Billy Butcherson to do her bidding, which mainly includes wrangling Max and Dani so she can harvest their youth, but depending on an ex-boyfriend that you poisoned to death for help isn't a great strategy. The zombie quickly switches sides and helps the kids defeat the Sandersons. Billy's heroism, wobbly walk, and tendency to lose his head (literally) made him one of the most beloved characters of the movie, and fans were jazzed to hear that he was returning for the reboot.

The actor who portrays Billy, Doug Jones, has spent the majority of his career in prosthetics and heavy make-up. He's the man behind the leader of the Gentlemen in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Abe Sapien in "Hellboy," the Faun and The Pale Man in "Pan's Labyrinth," and countless more creepy film creatures. However, it's a safe bet that his most famous and beloved character is Billy Butcherson. When asked why he thinks this character is so popular and loved by fans, Jones said:

"I was a zombie before zombies were cool ... and I wasn't a brain-eating zombie, that's a big difference ... I just wanted to go back to sleep, that's all I wanted. I just wanted to be left alone, really. [Billy is] goofy, floppy, fun, and he kind of matches the energy of the sisters."

The chaotic energy of Butcherson is always a crowd pleaser, but so is the special effects make-up. These days, Jones is a well seasoned pro at wearing heavy cosmetics and prosthetics. Doug enjoyed "hid[ing] behind a layer of rubber" for the sequel, and he's spent the last 29 years proving he's one of the best at it.

'It was kind of magical'

In the trailer for "Hocus Pocus 2," fans were given a much anticipated glimpse of Butcherson, and he looks exactly like he did in the original movie. Even Jones was shocked when he saw himself back in the costume and make-up: "I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, 'My gosh, two minutes have passed in the last 29 years,'" he said. However, Jones' real body reminded him how much time has passed between the films:

"I'll tell you what, Billy Butcherson is very physical. I was 32 playing him the first time, I was 61 playing him the second time [laughs]. Big difference! My first scene in the movie was stumbling up the staircase into a doorway... [mimes gasping for breath]. 'I don't remember it being this tiring before!'"

Jones might have struggled to get back into the physicality of Billy Butcherson, but everything else about the character reemerged like a reflex. "Billy came back right away, voice and everything. I don't know how that happened, but it was kind of magical."

"Hocus Pocus 2" will begin streaming September 30 on Disney+.