With Halloween on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to binge-watch our favourite paranormal films and television shows, many of which feature iconic witches.
Here is a list of 20 of the best witches in pop culture who cast charms, fight evil, and, occasionally, fly by broomstick.
The Halliwell Sisters fought forces of evil on “Charmed.”
The long-running drama “Charmed” followed Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) Halliwell as they navigated their powers and killed demons (and fell in love with a few). When Doherty exited the show, Rose McGowan stepped into her shoes as her half-sister Paige.
The CW is releasing a “Charmed” reboot on October 14, featuring a new set of sisters tasked with saving the world. Though a lot was changed for the revival, strong themes of sisterhood are promised to carry on in the remake.
Sally and Gillian Owens from “Practical Magic” were cursed in love.
In the ’90s, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman starred in “Practical Magic” as two witches cursed to live without love. By leaning on each other and their magical aunts, Sally and Gillian Owens master their powers to defeat the curse placed upon them as children.
In a red carpet interview at this year’s Oscars, Kidman and Bullock ran into each other and reminisced about old times on set.
“When we shot [Practical Magic] together, I asked her to get some tequila,” Bullock laughed. “She came back with her own tequila but we drank it anyway.”
“I love that movie, I showed that movie to my kids,” said Kidman. “It’s a little above them, we were really good sisters!”
“I think we are,” replied Bullock. “And we’re really good drinkers, too.”
Sabrina from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” was raised in a household of witches.
Melissa Joan Hart starred as the titular Sabrina on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” The sitcom revolves around Sabrina’s struggles to hide her powers and survive high school, with the help of her kooky aunts Hilda and Zelda and Salem the talking cat.
In 2016, Hart celebrated the 20th anniversary of the show’s premiere in an interview with ABC News.
“I honestly can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” said Hart. “I feel old! Sabrina was such a fun character. She was always full of surprises. It looks like I still have the magic touch after all these years.”
Hermione Granger was “the brightest witch of her age.”
The “Harry Potter” series followed young Harry as he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry may have been the center of a prophecy, chosen to save the wizarding world, but he wouldn’t have gotten far without his friend Hermione Granger.
Called the “brightest witch of her age,” Hermione studied and cast spells that saved her friends time and again throughout the book series.
Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the film franchise, said she has more in common with her character than she originally thought.
“I feel as though I spent a long time trying to pretend I was not like Hermione,” said Watson. “And, of course, I was rather like Hermione; I’ve finally come to accept the fact.”
Samantha could summon magic with a wiggle of her nose on “Bewitched.”
Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) was a witch who married a non-magical husband. Samantha promises to stop her witching ways after getting married but finds it harder than she originally thought.
Samantha’s signature magic move, wiggling her nose, actually arose from a nervous tic Montgomery herself had.
“She used to twitch her nose when she was frustrated,” said William Asher, “Bewitched” director and Montgomery’s one-time husband.
Elphaba from “Wicked” learned to love herself when society turned her away.
In the musical “Wicked,” the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wizard of Oz” was shown to be a powerful and kind witch named Elphaba who was spurned by society. Idina Menzel (“Frozen”) originated the role on Broadway in 2003, wowing audiences with her performance of songs such as “Defying Gravity.”
“There has to be a balance between power and vulnerability,” Menzel told Elle when discussing the role. “That’s something I feel I have in my own life, something I struggle with and – on a good day – like about myself.”
Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a groundbreaking character.
On “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Alyson Hannigan played Willow, a sidekick turned witch on later seasons. Willow also stole hearts by falling in love with her classmate Tara, creating an iconic same-sex romance, which wasn’t common on TV at the time.
Hannigan reunited with her co-star Amber Benson for an interview with Entertainment Weekly to talk about how incredible it was to bring a lesbian relationship to television and serve as a representation for queer fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“I’ve never had anything but just such a positive reaction,” said Hannigan. “It’s just been such a profound thing for people who were going through the same thing or just terrified of what they were going to have to go through and just to see somebody that they had been watching for so many years to get to not feel so alone, it’s like it’s such a gift to be able to be part of that.”
Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” is a villainous witch with many layers.
Angelina Jolie helped recreate the classic villain from “Sleeping Beauty” with added dimensions in the 2014 film “Maleficent.” In an interview with Collider, Jolie talked about how the fairytale role helped her connect with her kids and her own inner child.
“For me, as an actress, I wanted to not do something where I’m taking myself so seriously, and trying to do something for myself and my art,” said Jolie. “I wanted to remember what it is to play and entertain and try something bold.”
Marie Laveau from “AHS: Coven” was based on a real New Orleans icon.
Although Voodoo is a form of religion in real life, on “American Horror Story,” Marie Laveau is the Voodoo Queen who has supernatural, magical abilities such as raising the dead and making people immortal.
According to NOLA, Angela Bassett spent time with a voodoo practitioner to get inside the head of the late Marie Laveau, a famed New Orleans woman who inspired the “American Horror Story: Coven” voodoo practitioner of the same name.
“She’s lived a life where, she said, people have crossed the street to avoid her, or don’t want to speak to her,” explained Bassett. “And she says to them, ‘You know me. You don’t want to speak to me now?’ It’s that thing of how people see voodoo or how it’s been laid out there as something evil and dark or whatever, but that’s not necessarily how all people consider Marie. People went to her in hopefulness and great appreciation.”
The witches of “The Craft” were intense but legendary.
“The Craft” is one of the most iconic coming-of-age films that just so happens to be utterly terrifying.
The movie, which follows a new girl with telekinetic powers, who befriends a group of wanna-be witches showed how scary the supernatural can be – especially if combined with the already touchy nature of high school politics.
Though their witchcraft had some tragic ends, many critics have taken note about what the film says about what it is to be a teenage girl.
“In ‘The Craft,’ the witches’ collective powers are a way to silence those who demean and subjugate them-whether it’s the men who threaten their safety, peers who judge them, or beauty ideals that restrict them,” wrote Sinead Stubbins in the AV Club. “They don’t want to escape their identities as teenage girls; they want to escape the idea that this should limit them in any way.”
The Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus” are Halloween favourites.
Is it really Halloween if you don’t watch “Hocus Pocus?”
The stars of the iconic Halloween film are definitely the Sanderson Sisters played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. From their quick wit to their legendary costumes, audiences can’t get enough of these three colonial witches thrust into the modern world.
“Midler is the best reason to watch ‘Hocus Pocus,'” wrote Washington Post movie critic Desson Howe at the time.“As the lead Sanderson, she’s the witchy center of the movie, with her Betty Boop lipstick design and that trademark, vamp-to-the-gallery, eye-batting shtick of hers. She’s pantomimically assisted by Najimy (one of Whoopi Goldberg’s nun sidekicks in ‘Sister Act’), who can smell tasty infants a mile away; and Parker (who was in ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ – the earlier “Indecent Proposal”) as the squeaky beauty of the bunch.”
Debbie Reynolds was a witch who led her grandchildren to another world in “Halloweentown.”
The late Debbie Reynolds played roles in several iconic films, but many children were first introduced to her in the sweet family film “Halloweentown.” In it, Reynolds played a charming witch who took her grandchildren to a world where every day was Halloween.
“The immortal Debbie Reynolds is memorable as the wise benevolent grandmother Aggie,” wrote Cinema Crazed critic Felix Vasquez. “Sharp performances, entertaining writing, and a gorgeous sense of whimsy, ‘Halloweentown’ is a great celebration of the holiday.”
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