- Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role of Max in Hocus Pocus to focus on other projects.
- Director Kenny Ortega thought DiCaprio was amazing, but understood his decision to prioritize other roles.
- DiCaprio’s decision led to him starring in This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which earned him his first Oscar nomination.
Leonardo DiCaprio could have played the role of Max in the 1993 film Hocus Pocus, but instead chose to focus on other projects. Today, the renowned actor is starring in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon. However, while casting for Hocus Pocus, director Kenny Ortega met with DiCaprio and believed he was “just amazing.” Despite this, Ortega knew he had no chance of landing the young actor for the role.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ortega recounted the time when his casting team informed him about DiCaprio’s audition. They told him that although DiCaprio agreed to meet with the director, he could not take on the role, as he had been offered parts in films like This Boy’s Life with Robert De Niro and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. During their meeting, DiCaprio expressed his regret for being unable to accept the role but stated that he was focusing on other opportunities.
Ultimately, the role of Max was given to Omri Katz, while DiCaprio went on to star alongside Robert De Niro and Ellen Barkin in This Boy’s Life, as well as with Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. In a 2014 interview, DiCaprio disclosed that he could have earned a significant amount of money if he had chosen to play Max in Hocus Pocus. However, he decided to hold out for the role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, for which he had not yet auditioned.
DiCaprio’s choice led to an extraordinary acting career, with numerous Academy Award nominations, including his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.