25 Bewitching Secrets About The Craft Revealed

Released on May 3, 1996, The Craft became a cult classic. But it almost starred Angelina Jolie or Alicia Silverstone.

By Tierney Bricker May 03, 2021 4:37 PMTags
Watch: Neve Campbell Opens Up on Motherhood & Acting

25 years later, they're still the weirdos, mister. 

Released on May 3, 1996, no one was expecting The Craft to become a cult classic. Made for just $15 million, the movie about four teen witches went on to make more than $55 million at the box office and become a massive hit in the video rental realm. 

But more than anything, for young women at the time the real magic was watching Sarah (Robin Tunney), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Rochelle (Rachel True) and Bonnie (Neve Campbell) call the corners, perform spells and raise a little (literal) hell. They made it cool to be a weirdo. Add in some memorable one-liners, too-cool-for-school goth fashion and an iconic villainous performance from Balk and you have yourself the right incantation for a generation-defining movie. 

While it may be hard to imagine any other actresses as members of the coven, some pretty major stars actually auditioned for the movie, including Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson

photos
20 Spellbinding Secrets About Sabrina the Teenage Witch Revealed

Here are 25 behind-the-scenes facts about The Craft you might not know, like who almost got fired on the first day of filming and which star actually wanted a different role...

1. Finding the right four actresses to play The Craft's coven of witches "took nine months" and led to "test deals with 85 girls," director Andrew Fleming revealed in Huffington Post's 2016 oral history of the movie

"The casting was really, for some reason, very difficult," Fleming admitted. "I think it was a process for the studio to wrap their heads around finding four fresh faces and making a movie out of them."

2. Among the many actresses who read for the lead role of Sarah? Angelina Jolie, with casting director Pam Dixon explaining she was offered another movie and chose to make that instead.

3. Dixon revealed a then 12-year-old Scarlett Johannson also auditioned for the part, as well as Alicia Silverstone. "She had just shot Clueless, but it had not come out," she explained. "Alicia also got something between the time that we read them and the time we were really going to make the movie, so we couldn't pick her up either and she went to do something else."

4. Rachel True was the first teen witch cast, landing the role of Rochelle even though her managers didn't want her to audition. "At that point, the character Rochelle was Caucasian and bulimic. Luckily, they switched that up," True explained to Huffington Post. "I think that having the racial component in that movie added a really great layer that just wasn't there in most teen movies."

5. Next was Fairuza Balk, whose villainous turn as Nancy helped turn her into a '90s icon. "She was a practicing Pagan," Fleming said. "I just had coffee with her and thought, 'Who else in the world could possibly play that part?'" (Balk refuted that she was a practicing Pagan in a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, clarifying, "I learned about it through coming to this film.")

6. While she'd eventually go on to play Sarah, Robin Tunney was initially brought in by Dixon to help out with auditions. "I said to her, 'I need someone to come in and read in these tests with the girls at Sony,'" she detailed. "So she came, really, as the girl reading against the actresses we were testing. When everyone saw the test, they all went, 'Wow, look at that girl.'"

7. Having just finished filming Empire Records, Tunney was still growing her hair out, with Fleming admitting, "I thought she was weird. I think she was nervous. She was jumping around in the office and I couldn't get a read on her."

8. While producers immediately knew they wanted Tunney as their Sarah, the actress wasn't convinced, preferring Bonnie, Neve Campbell's character.

"We had to talk her into playing the lead, which was weird. But she did it," Fleming said. "She wanted to play Bonnie, and we said, 'No, we want you to be Sarah.' It was like a reverse-Hollywood story where she wanted the smaller part."

9. Tunney wore a wig throughout filming, despite the costume designer wanting Sarah to have the actress' pixie cut.  "I thought she looked great," Deborah Everton told Huffington Post. "The studio wanted a wig—not sure why. Sometimes studios make decisions and the rest of us just scratch our heads and wonder [why]."

9. To help make the witchcraft as believable as possible, the writers met with Wiccans and had a consultant, Pat Devin, on set to help write the incantations and spells. 

"She's credited in the movie as a technical consultant, but she was really there to try to make it real," Fleming said. "I wanted Wiccans to see it and say, 'Yeah, that's not offensive to me. That's what it's like.' The whole idea was to make up stuff because the god that they refer to in the movie is something that we made up—because it might have been offensive to people if we had used people's real gods. We created our own."

10. Though all four stars were "entranced" by magic, producer Doug Wick said Balk was the "most" into the witchy elements, the star buying an occult shop in Los Angeles while filming. However, in 2017, Balk explained to Entertainment Weekly that that she helped the struggling store to survive after it was going to be sold. "I thought for the oldest occult shop in the country, that's a tragedy," she said. 

11. The producers were trying hard to secure a PG-13 rating and were disappointed when they learned the movie received an R rating "no matter what they did," Fleming said, because "it was black magic and teenagers." 

Wick added, "Getting our R was the modern-day equivalent of having a few witches burned at the stake."

12. "Weird" things kept happening during production, with Fleming detailing a specific experience while the coven is calling on the corners on the beach. 

"The park ranger had said, 'This is the highest the waves will go at high tide,' so we moved our circle of fire inland from there," he recalled. "But it was just this odd thing where, when the girls started the incantations, the waves kind of came up. And at one point, a wave came and wiped the whole set out."

Wick confirmed the set's "spooky atmosphere," saying, "I remember at the time, everyone was kind of captivated by these occurrences."

13. After becoming friends with Tunney while he was enrolled at NYU, Skeet Ulrich revealed to The A.V. Club that she recommended him for the role of Chris. "So they flew me out...and I went to Doug's house and read scenes with Robin," he explained of his casting process.

14. While he got the gig, Ulrich wasn't exactly thrilled with his performance of the football captain-turned-Nancy's victim. "I was horrible in it, in my opinion," he admitted. "I was so green. I look at it now, and people talk about it, and I go, 'Oh, god, I was so bad."

15. The same year they appeared in The Craft, Ulrich and Campbell also co-starred in Scream

16. The movie is credited for helping make goth fashion more mainstream in the '90s, with Fleming explaining to Huffington Post, "That was my premise: What if those witchcraft girls in high school dressed like they were in The Cure? I just had this idea that they should have a punk element. At that point, goth wasn't really a thing."

17. Everton's strategy for outfitting the coven was delving into their individual personalities while using the idea of a "Catholic school uniform" as the canvas. "It made girls realize they could work within the rules and still create an identity," Everton told Dazed in 2016. "At the fittings I roughly figured out in my head who each girl was, and I very loosely gave each of them an element for when I got stuck, so I could always go back to this elemental thing."

18. But Everton almost got fired on the first day of filming after putting Tunney in "a very nondescript beige t-shirt dress and a big, sloppy sweatshirt." When the studio executives who were on set saw the outfit, they "flipped out. They thought I had lost my mind!" she explained. "They thought the visual was terrible. This whole posse showed up at my office (which was terrifying) and I had to calm them down."

19. Holly Marie Combs, who'd go on to star in The WB's hit witch drama Charmed, was "offered" a role but "was unavailable" at the time, she revealed on Twitter in 2018. "regret I didn't get to do it," she added.

20. Katy Perry's 2013 hit song "Dark Horse" drew its inspiration from The Craft, with the pop star explaining at a special album release party with iHeartRadio that the tune is "about warning a guy that if you're going to fall in love with me, make sure you're sure because if not, it's gonna be your last." 

21. In the scene where Nancy tortures Sarah, 10,000 snakes were used during filming, including a boa constructor that was over 10 feet long.

22. A deleted scene revealed that Sarah went to visit Nancy in the hospital in an attempt to heal her after the climactic fight scene. 

23. Fleming had ideas for a sequel and a TV pilot, "neither of which came to pass," he told HuffPo. "The idea was that it was the school without those girls. It was the legacy of what those four girls had done at the school."

24. After Sony tried to remake the movie in 2015, Zoe Lister-Jones' reimagination, The Craft: Legacy, debuted on Amazon Prime Video in October 2020. Cailee Spaeny, Lovie Simone, Gideon Adlon and Zoey Luna took over the coven's corners.

25. While she stepped back from Hollywood, Balk—Spoiler alert!—made a surprise cameo in the film, reprising the role of Nancy for one mother of a twist: She was the main character's biological mom but had allowed her therapist to adopt her for protection. 

"I met with Zoe a couple of years ago and she pitched me an idea [where] she wanted to take the premise but [inject] a lot of messages that she really wanted to get across to the public," Balk explained to the L.A. Times of her decision to return. "And one of those messages was women backing women instead of women attacking women because there's been so much of that in film, way more than is needed. Her ideas were very pro-woman and women's empowerment and taking power back. And that's something that I really believe in and wanted to help her with."

The Craft is streaming on HBO Max.

For everything you should be watching right now, don't miss BingE! Club hosted by Erin Lim on Snapchat!