‘Practical Magic’ Director Underwent an Exorcism After a Real Witch Cursed Him and the Movie

The set of the 1998 witchy romantic comedy, Practical Magic, got a little too magical. Director Griffin Dunne ended up paying for an exorcism after a real witch cursed him and the movie.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in 'Practical Magic'
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic | Warner Bros. via Getty Images

A film adaption of Alice Hoffman’s 1995 book of the same name, Practical Magic is about a family of witches. It tells the story of sisters, Gillian (Nicole Kidman) and Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock), as they try to break a family curse that puts the men they love in grave danger.

Ostracized by the people in their small town, Gillian and Sally live with their aunts played by Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing.

‘Witch consultant’ wanted a cut of the movie’s profits

Dunne told Vulture in 2017 he got cursed by a “witch consultant” he hired for the project.

“I thought she was a really intelligent person and I invited her to come to Los Angeles to observe the rehearsals with Sandy [Bullock] and Nicole [Kidman],” he said. “I had my producer make her a reservation at a nice hotel, and call her.”

On the phone, things took a turn for the worse.

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“The witch goes, ‘You’re not going to buy me off with a hotel room. I want a percentage of the movie. I’m going to have my own Practical Magic cookbook,’” he recalled, adding that she was already receiving a generous salary.

She demanded an additional $250,000.

When the producer said it wouldn’t happen, “She goes crazy and scares the sh*t out of the producer,” Dunne said. “She says, ‘I’m going to put a curse on you. I’m putting a curse on this movie, and I’m putting a curse on Griffin.”

Checking his voicemail, the director discovered the witch consultant left him a nasty message.

“‘How dare you sic that shrew on me? You think you can buy me off, well let me tell you something? There is a land of curses!’ And then she slips into tongues,” Dunne said. “It was terrifying. I listened to as much as I could and then I hung up. Within minutes, Warner’s been served with papers. She’s suing Warner Bros.” 

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‘Practical Magic’ director had a ‘little bit of an exorcism’ performed on him

The consultant’s words spooked Dunne so much he decided to undergo an exorcism to put it behind him.

“Just to cover my tracks, I did have a little bit of an exorcism,” he said. “I hired someone to get that person off my radar.”

Griffin Dunne at the Tribeca Film Festival
Griffin Dunne at the Tribeca Film Festival | Jim Spellman/WireImage

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He spent $100 on the exorcism describing it as a “very simple, New Agey ceremony that was about as silly as the idea that someone would curse you over the phone.”

The studio paid the consultant because they were ‘so freaked out’

What happened to the consultant who sued the studio? According to Dunne, he passed the voicemail off to the Warner Bros. legal department. They found it so unsettling they paid her an unknown amount.

A potential lawsuit wasn’t the only thing to come out of the situation. The drama with the consultant is behind a line in Practical Magic.

“It inspired one of Aidan [Quinn’s] lines: ‘Curses only have power when you believe them,’” Dunne said. “I decided I’m just not going to believe in this. It was creepy. If I’d watched the scene in a horror movie, I would be freaked by it. But this is real life.”

Practical Magic is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

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