Octavia Spencer
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Robert Zemeckis‘ adaptation of the Roald Dahl book ‘The Witches’ has gained its second cast member.  Octavia Spencer will join Anne Hathaway in the film, which will give the classic tale a decidedly American spin, being set in the Southern United States, as a grandmother and her grandson travel to “swankiest resort in the South — only to realize that they’ve wandered right into a nest of witches, headed by the Grand High Witch, who intends to transform the world’s children into mice — starting with the Boy.”  Hatheway is playing the Grand High Witch, a role that was previously embodied by Anjelica Huston in a film adaptation released in 1990, which Dahl himself dismissed as being “utterly appalling.”  (He also hated the film ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’, so it seems like Dahl just had extremely high standards or expected all adaptations to remain completely faithful to his books.)

Spencer’s role is not known at this time.  Is she playing the grandmother?  (is she old enough?)  Another witch?  We’ll have to wait a bit to find out, it seems.  Spencer is no stranger to the fantastical, having appeared in the ‘Divergent’ series, ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘The Shack’, ‘The Shape of Water’, and the science fact drama ‘Hidden Figures’.

Zemeckis is writing the screenplay with TV writer Kenya Barris (‘black-ish’, ‘grown-ish’).  Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón will act as executive producers.  del Toro also wrote an earlier version of the script, but it’s unknown if Zemeckis and Barris will keep elements from that draft.  del Toro was also planning to direct this film, before turning it over to Zemeckis.  Zemeckis’ most recent film, ‘Welcome to Marwen’ flopped in December when it was released opposite ‘Aquaman’, ‘Bumblebee’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.  He also serves as executive producer of TV series ‘Project Blue Book’, and ‘Manifest’.

Spencer will next star in the horror movie ‘Ma’ which hits theaters on May 31.  Her voice will be heard in ‘The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’ next January.  She is also attached to star on the TV series ‘Madam CJ Walker.

‘The Witches’ is scheduled for release on October 16, 2020.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter