Leonardo DiCaprio is an iconic figure in the world of cinema. He has earned his place as one of the most celebrated and versatile actors of his generation. With a career that spans several decades, DiCaprio has captivated audiences with his remarkable talent, dedication to his craft, and passion for taking on challenging and diverse roles.
He has graced the silver screen with roles in some of the most iconic blockbuster films in cinematic history, such as “Titanic,” “The Departed,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Interestingly, he once delivered a remarkable audition for a Disney Halloween classic, “Hocus Pocus,” where he could have potentially become the Prince of Salem. However, the film’s director, Kenny Ortega, later disclosed in an interview why this opportunity did not come to fruition.
During the early ’90s, Leonardo DiCaprio was a rising star in the entertainment world, steadily building his reputation in the industry. He had become a highly desirable talent, sought after by numerous filmmakers. Director Kenny Ortega, known for his work on “Hocus Pocus,” was no exception to DiCaprio’s appeal.
Despite being aware that he couldn’t secure the role of Max Dennison, Leonardo DiCaprio went ahead and auditioned for the part, leaving an indelible impression with his astonishing performance. However, due to prior commitments, including films like “This Boy’s Life” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” in 1993, he couldn’t take on the role in “Hocus Pocus.”
During a conversation with Entertainment Weekly, Kenny Ortega said: “[My casting team] called me up and said, ‘We’re sending someone in, but you can’t have him,’” Ortega remembers. “They said, ‘We want you to know who he is, we want you to meet him, he’s agreed to come in to meet you, but he can’t do the role. He’s being offered a movie with [Robert] De Niro and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.’”
Kenny Ortega expressed his disappointment but mentioned that he did have the opportunity to meet with Leonardo DiCaprio. “He came in, and he was just amazing — so extraordinary and unique — he came and he was stressed. He said, ‘I feel bad that I’m here because I can’t do this because I’m really focused on these other things,’ and I said, ‘Understandably,’” Ortega explains.
“We shared a sandwich together. He was super cool. When he walked out, I called my casting agents and I said, ‘You’re murdering me, here.’” The role ultimately went to Omri Katz, who delivered an outstanding performance. Meanwhile, DiCaprio went on to star in This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, both of which were released the same year as “Hocus Pocus.”