Meet the teen who plays young Winifred Sanderson in ‘Hocus Pocus 2’
The actresses who take on the younger versions of the Sanderson Sisters do a remarkable job of bringing the little quirks of their characters to life
Twenty-nine years after “Hocus Pocus” introduced the world to the Sanderson Sisters, the sequel now brings the trio of witches back to modern civilization, this time swapping out brooms for Roombas.
But “Hocus Pocus 2” also goes back in time, giving viewers somewhat of an origin story for the Sanderson Sisters. In the opening scene — which has up-and-coming actresses playing younger versions of the sisters — we learn how the Sanderson Sisters discovered magic and came in possession of the book of spells.
They don’t get a lot of screen time, but the actresses who take on the younger versions of the Sanderson Sisters do a remarkable job of bringing the little quirks of their characters to life — especially Taylor Paige Henderson, who does an uncanny impersonation of Bette Midler’s Winifred Sanderson.
Who plays young Winifred Sanderson in ‘Hocus Pocus 2’?
“Hocus Pocus 2” is Taylor Paige Henderson’s biggest project to date, but the 15-year-old from Amarillo, Texas, is no stranger to the stage.
Her life of acting began at the age of 5, when she took on the role of an oyster in Amarillo Little Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” according to West Texas A&M University, where Henderson’s mother is an instructor in political science/public administration.
“She had about 45 seconds in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” her mother, Melissa Henderson, said. “And she couldn’t wait to do it again.”
Henderson went on to perform in roughly 20 productions at the theater. At the age of 11, with help from her parents, she secured an acting coach in New York City, per West Texas A&M University. She began starring in professional theater productions in San Antonio, and in 2020, starred in her first film, Studio Ghibli’s “Earwig and the Witch,” KFDA-TV reported.
“It’s definitely been interesting and definitely been a challenge,” Melissa Henderson told West Texas A&M University of balancing her own career with her daughter’s burgeoning interest in acting. “Taylor, though, is at an age where she can now do a lot of this on her own — the auditions, call-backs, learning her lines. In a couple of years, she will be leaving home for her career, and the reins will be completely handed over to her.
“She’s always been drawn to the arts,” she continued. “Just like a kid who does anything at a high level, be it sports or music, as a parent you juggle that and help your kids reach their potential and the goals they have set.”
Henderson’s work in “Earwig and the Witch” led her to “Hocus Pocus 2.” After landing the role of young Winifred Sanderson, the teenager watched “Hocus Pocus” every night before arriving on set, according to Hollywood Life. But nothing prepared her more than seeing Midler in action.
“The minute she stepped in front of the camera in her costume, it was just on,” the teenager told KFDA-TV. “She was Winnie. It was insane.”
Now, Henderson is also a part of the iconic character — something she still has a hard time believing.
“It’s pretty crazy that this Halloween, I get to watch myself,” Henderson told West Texas A&M University. “‘Crazy’ is about the best way to describe it.”
How to watch ‘Hocus Pocus 2’
“Hocus Pocus 2” released Sept. 30 on Disney+. So far, the film has received mixed reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics are liking it slightly more than viewers, with a 61% score compared to an audience score of 55%.
The film is rated PG for macabre humor, action and some language.