Hollywood has given us many sensational witches over the years, with a long list of historic performances from the finest actresses. In celebration of the impending release of Nicolas Cage’s epic new blockbuster ‘Season of the Witch’, we celebrate cinema’s all-time top five witches. Hop on our broomstick and let us guide you through the expert star selection…
Susan Sarandon, Jane Spofford, ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ (1987)
It is a challenge to pick the brightest light in the trio of star witches from this eighties classic. However, Sarandon just edges the pick ahead of Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer with an alluring portrayal of Jane Spofford. An understated power in the performance from the always-classy Sarandon conveys believability ahead of her sexy rival co-stars. Her on-screen electricity with Jack Nicholson rather helps as well.
The Witches of Eastwick caused controversy upon release, its misogynistic undertones left critics with easy ammunition for attack. However, with all publicity being good publicity, the film enjoyed rich box office pickings. Sarandon’s turn as a classic screen witch delightfully helped the cause.
Anjelica Huston, Grand High Witch, ‘The Witches’ (1990)
Translating the wonderfully warped imagination of author Roald Dahl from the page to the big screen is never an easy task. However, Huston’s interpretation of the lead witch helped make a difficult task look almost easy. Her deliciously engaging performance seduced and repelled in equal measure. The celluloid legend brought an unhinged intelligence to a role which engulfed the screen each time she appeared.
Huston may come from acting royalty, remarkably she was the third generation in her family to win an Academy Award, but we feel she truly ascended to the throne via this wholly unexpected route.
Angela Lansbury, Miss Eglantine Price, ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ (1971)
One of Disney’s finest ever productions is here to remind us that good witches can be just just as entertaining as their evil counterparts. Angela Lansbury, one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood history (how dare we forget six Golden Globes, five Tony Awards, eighteen Emmy Award and three Oscar nominations?), expertly propelled audiences through a flight of fancy that could thaw the coldest heart.
Screen legends Julie Andrews, Lynn Redgrave, Leslie Caron and Judy Carne were all in consideration for the prized role of Eglantine Price. However, Disney demanded and ultimately secured Angela Lansbury. A decision that history judges with a broad smile. ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ heralded new technical advances, mixing animation with live action, but it will be best remembered for the magical spirit that Lansbury brought to an enchanted role.
Margaret Hamilton, Wicked Witch of the West, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1931)
How could we not spotlight Hollywood’s quintessential witch? In a story that captivated the world, The Wizard of Oz showcased Hamilton in a pivotal role. She excelled, turning the character into the most famous screen villain of all time. You think Freddy Krueger is scary? In the 1930s this green witch made a guest appearance in the nightmares of more people than you can imagine.
Hamilton’s rise to glory is an intriguing tale. A former school teacher (who had previously only appeared in a handful of small roles), she grabbed a unique opportunity when the original ‘Wicked Witch’ pick, Oscar winner Gale Sondergaard, refused to wear make up that would make her look ugly. Hamilton had no such vanity holding her back, she swept into the role and captivated generations.
Claire Foy, ‘Anna’, ‘Season of the Witch’ (2010)
Previously best known for her lead portrayal in BBC’s ‘Little Dorrit’, Claire Foy announces herself onto the Hollywood stage with this groundbreaking performance. In a role that has so far captivated preview audiences, Foy expertly portrays a young girl whose innocent appearance may mask a dark and sinister force.
In the stirring tale, 14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks fear her powers could be the source of the Black Plague. The truth is expertly masked in a masterfully judged performance. Pay attention, upon release a new star is born.
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