the witches remake cast octavia spencer

Octavia Spencer is the latest to join The Witches remake cast. Spencer will play the grandmother of a boy who runs afoul of witches, lead by the Grand High Witch herself (played by Anne Hathaway). Robert Zemeckis is directing the film, adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s book, which was previously adapted into a movie by director Nicolas Roeg.

Variety broke the news that Octavia Spencer is joining The Witches. Like Dahl’s book and the Nicolas Roeg film, The Witches follows a boy who gets mixed up with some witches. Spencer plays the boy’s grandmother, while Jahzir Bruno will play the boy and Codie-Lei Eastick is playing another kid mixed up in the mess. Hathaway is the leader of the witches – a role made famous by Anjelica Huston in the previous movie. The Roeg film was a somewhat loose adaptation of Dahl’s material, while Zemeckis’ film is supposedly going to be more faithful.

Here’s the synopsis for Dahl’s original novel:

Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There’s nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma’s stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!

Early reports indicated that Zemeckis would be moving the story to the American South, and giving it a kind of Southern Gothic vibe in the process. Zemeckis wrote the script with black-ish creator Kenya Barris.

I remain cautiously optimistic here. Hathaway is a great actress, and I can’t wait to see her sink her teeth into this villainous role. Spencer is a great actress as well, and adding her to the cast is another plus. The only thing I remain slightly worried about is Zemeckis. The filmmaker once made great movies – like Back to the Future. But he hasn’t delivered something worthwhile in a very, very longtime. In fact, his most recent film, last year’s Welcome to Marwen, was so shockingly bad that I couldn’t believe he’d made it. I can only hope The Witches gets his creative juices flowing again.

What might help matters is the involvement of Guillermo del Toro, who is producing the film along with Roma director Alfonso Cuaron. At one point, both del Toro and Cuaron were attached to direct, but they’ve since moved on to other projects. Spencer, of course, worked with del Toro on the filmmaker’s Oscar winning The Shape of Water.

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