How The New Witches Cast Compares To The Original

You may remember The Witches as the one '90s Halloween movie that seems like it's for kids, but actually haunts your nightmares. A new adaptation of Roald Dahl's dastardly novel is now streaming on HBO Max with a star-studded cast to rival the original. The seriously disturbing plot, however, is still the same.

It’s odd. Though the film is called The Witches, with emphasis on the plural, there really is only one witch with a significant role in the film — the Grand High Witch played by Angelica Huston in the 1990 film and Anne Hathaway in Robert Zemeckis’ 2020 adaptation. This isn’t like Hocus Pocus. There’s no magical trio of cronies. All of the other witches are nameless attendees at the Grand High Witch’s convention — or the one witch at the beginning of the old movie who literally uses candy to try and to lure children away from the safety of their parents. You may remember a “Miss Irvine” from the original. She’s the one that goes good at the end and is played by British comedian Jane Horrock. Unfortunately, there is no witch with that name in the new movie. The new movie has some new witch-y characters named Zelda, Consuela, Esmeralda, Saoirse, and Lana... but it's still really all about Miss Ernst.

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That said, here’s who you can expect to see in The Witches on HBO Max and who played them in the original to jog your memory.

Photo: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock.

Angelica Huston as Miss Ernst In The Original


Glamorous and terrifying, Huston and her dramatic bangs scared a generation for life as the child-loathing Grand High Witch back in 1990. Between this and The Addams Family, Huston is a true spooky season queen. Let’s just not think too hard about the scene where she tries to push a baby off a cliff. It's been 30 years and I'm still shook.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Anne Hathaway As Miss Ernst In The New Movie


If you aren’t loving this campy journey for Hathaway, we simply can’t be friends. She's having so much fun playing a garish villain. She also appears to be doing an Eastern European accent like Huston’s original Miss Ernst and definitely gets bonus points for that.

Photo: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock.

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Stringer In The Original


The Witches primarily takes place at a hotel, and no hotel would be complete without a manager who meddles in everyone’s business and is absolutely disgusted by the apparent rat infestation in his perfect hotel. The natural choice back in the ‘90s was Mr. Bean himself, Atkinson, with his best snooty sneer and an exaggerated posh accent.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Stanley Tucci as Mr. Stringer In The New Movie


First of all, this is the Devil Wears Prada reunion I never knew I needed. Second of all, the biggest difference between Tucci's manager and Atkinson's is the accent choice. Since the new film takes place in the American South, rather than the British countryside, Tucci has adopted a drawl that drips like molasses.
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock.

Mai Zetterling as Helga Eveshim In The Original


The grandmother in the original film seemed near death at all times because of her diabetes. She was, however, very cool. Not all grandmas will warn you about witches and totally roll with it if one turns you into a mouse! The woman who played her was pretty cool too. Zetterling was actually an accomplished director in the ‘60s and ‘70s in addition to being an actor.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Octavia Spencer as The Grandmother In The New Movie


The only way to top an accomplished multi-hyphenate like Hathaway is with an actual Academy Award winner. Spencer is a great choice for the sharp grandmother because she can absolutely take on Hathaway. They also seem to have dropped the "sickly" subplot from the Grandmother's character, but I'm here for it. As if we needed more stress when witches are running around turning kids into mice!
Photo: Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock.

Jasen Fisher as Luke Eveshim


Technically, the protagonist of The Witches is a young boy, who in the 1990 film is named Luke. Fisher didn’t continue his acting career but was also in Hook and Parenthood at the time. That’s a pretty decent list of credits for a former child actor.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.

Jahzir Kadeem Bruno as Charlie Hansen


The new film names its young protagonist Charlie... not to be confused with the one who visits the Chocolate Factory. You might recognize this actor from Atlanta or The Oath. (An older Charlie narrates the movie and is voiced by comedian Chris Rock.)

Our hero's friend — and the witches’ first victim — Bruno Jenkins is played by Codie-Lei Eastick (Holmes & Watson) in the new one.
Photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images.

Kristin Chenoweth as Daisy the Mouse


This is a new character for the new movie, but Chenoweth (Wicked, Pushing Daisies, Glee) is so famous we have to mention her. She’s playing a mouse named Daisy, who could be another human who has been transformed into a mouse by the titular witches. She could be one of Charlie’s pet mice — Luke has some pet mice in the film, but they don’t speak. Or she could be both. You'll have to watch it — I'm no spoilerer!
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