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Why Playing Hocus Pocus 2's Billy Butcherson Took A Bigger Toll On Doug Jones This Time Around

Looper 9/28/2022 Carolyn Jenkins
Close-up of Doug Jones posing on the red carpet © Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Close-up of Doug Jones posing on the red carpet

Disney's newest experiment in nostalgia is arriving just in time for Halloween. Almost three decades after Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy portrayed the infamous Sanderson Sisters in "Hocus Pocus," they are returning for another adventure. And while many fans of the original may be ecstatic about seeing their favorite witches again, there is one veteran of the horror genre whose return is also grounds for celebration.

Even if you don't know what Doug Jones looks like, there is more than a high chance you know his work. Most notably, he has been a frequent collaborator with Guillermo del Toro in many monster-themed films. In addition to the iconic roles he played in "Pan's Labyrinth," he also portrayed Abe Sapien in "Hellboy" as well as the romantic fish man in "The Shape of Water" (via IMDb). These roles endeared him to genre film fans, and now he is returning for "Hocus Pocus 2" as the mutilated zombie Billy Butcherson — not to be confused with Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) of "The Boys" fame. And though Jones has appreciated returning for the sequel, there was one issue the actor had with taking on the part again.

The Physicality Of The Role Surprised Doug Jones

Billy standing in the middle of a cemetary © Matt Kennedy/Disney+ Billy standing in the middle of a cemetary

Doug Jones has had no lack of work in recent memory, but putting on the zombie costume again after so many years was quite a different experience. Although he is old hat at playing a myriad of interesting creatures, Jones revealed at a Disney press event that Looper attended the challenges that he faced in "Hocus Pocus 2."

"Two minutes have passed in the last 29 years," Jones stated, referring to the fact that a corpse doesn't necessarily age. As a zombie, Billy's role is quite physical as he runs through graveyards. Now in his 60s, slipping into Billy's skin wasn't as easy as when he was in his prime. But despite this curveball, his connection to Billy persevered. He reported that it was easy to find Billy's voice again and in some ways, he had been waiting to reprise the role for a long time. 

"Billy came back to me immediately," Jones told Entertainment Weekly in a first look at the sequel. "[I]t was frightening how he's been alive while I've been playing other characters all these years, but, Billy's like, 'I wanted my chance again.'" Jones will certainly get his chance when "Hocus Pocus 2" premieres exclusively on Disney+ on September 30.

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