All respect to Bette Midler—who is obviously an icon/legend/treasure forever—but the best witch in Hocus Pocus 2 is Hannah Waddingham. Like, it’s not even close. No hard feelings, Sanderson sisters. It’s just that Waddingham’s “Mother Witch” is objectively perfect.
The Ted Lasso star has just one scene in the Hocus Pocus sequel, which was released on Disney+ on Friday. But it’s arguably the best scene in the movie. The year is 1653, and the young Sanderson sisters (played by Taylor Paige Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and Juju Journey Brener) have just been exiled from Salem, thanks to some patriarchal bullcrap. They’re lost in woods, with nowhere to go, when suddenly… a witch descends upon them!
This witch—who transforms from a bird that sounds like a crow but looks like a parrot—is played by none other than Rebecca Welton herself, aka everyone’s favorite HBIC from Ted Lasso. And friends, if you thought Waddingham was hot as Rebecca, you are not ready for this seductive, spooky sorceress.
Known only as “Mother Witch,” (yes, mommy!), she arrives just in time to empower the young Sandersons—literally, with a book of powerful spells. Mother Witch dons a long, luxurious velvet cape, adorned with a feather fringe, and clasped at the neck with a gold medallion. Her dress is a red, flowy number with a mysterious eye embroidered on the front, and a neckline low enough to show off her frankly impressive cleavage. (Do they give out cleavage Emmys? Because if so, Waddingham has my vote.)
And don’t get me started on that flowing, witchy hair—Waddingham is going to have folks begging their colorist for silver locks in droves. But the best part? Her absolutely flawless brow and eye make-up, with wings sharp enough to kill a man, accentuated by sparkly face rhinestones. Costume designer Salvador Perez has really outdone himself with this one.
None of the above would work if Waddingham weren’t also delivering an Oscar-worthy performance in her five minutes of screentime. From the moment she enters, she commands the screen with unquestionable authority. She delivers her lines with a theater-trained Shakesperean lilt, no doubt thanks to her background as a West End and Broadway singer and actress. (Why the heck didn’t Hocus Pocus 2 give Waddingham a musical number? C’mon!)
That said, she doesn’t take it too seriously, either. When a young Winnie is surprised that Mother Witch knows it’s her birthday, Waddingham quips, “I’m a witch. I know things,” leaving no room for argument. Though our time with her is too short, perhaps we’ll see more of Mother Witch in Hocus Pocus 3.
And god bless Mother Witch for dropping her beauty regime—eating children, of course. How else does one stay young and ridiculously beautiful?