Stockard Channing Says ‘Practical Magic’ Is Really About the Relationships Between the Women

Sure Practical Magic is about witchcraft and maybe a little murder, but the film is really about the relationships forged between the women in the film.

Sandra Bullock and Nichole Kidman star in the new movie "Practical Magic"
Sandra Bullock and Nichole Kidman star in the new movie “Practical Magic” | Hulton Archive for Getty Images

That’s what Stockard Channing, who played “Aunt Frances” in the film shared. “It was really about the relationships of all these women — the aunts and the nieces and all that,” Channing told Vulture. “That was Griffin’s [Dunne] focus. We weren’t playing witches; it was more like we were playing the relationships.”

Indeed, the film follows the lineage of the Owens women. After the first Owens woman was ostracized, she cursed the family that death would find any man who dared to love an Owens woman. The story takes place during present day and follows the lives of young adult sisters Gillian [Nicole Kidman] and Sally [Sandra Bullock]. Their mother died of a broken heart when their father suddenly dies. So the sisters move in with their aunts, Frances and Jet.

Stockard Channing recalled that the film took on a life of its own

The film had wide appeal, especially to women. “It’s very unusual,” Channing recalled. “My recollection, which may or may not be accurate, is that it had a greater life after it first opened. I couldn’t tell you if it made money; I wouldn’t be aware of that at all.”

“But I am aware that, over the years, a lot of people like yourself have been crazy about it,” she told the reporter. “So it’s lived on, which is interesting. And I don’t know why that would be. It certainly is a very unusual film. I think maybe they use the word chick flick, which would hopefully be politically incorrect these days.”

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She shared that the movie wasn’t trying to conjure up any references to witches from pop culture. “That was one of the interesting things about it,” she remarked. “I think also because, with my background in theater, I’ve done my makeup over the years, and I’ve done strange ones.”

“So I was very aware of how artificial we looked, but the DP [Andrew Dunn] was wonderful and everything was very soft and beautiful. So I hope it isn’t wrong to say this — it didn’t look as much like a drag queen as it did probably in life!” she continued. “Or maybe it did? But he worked so well with the eccentricity of the looks, so it became otherworldly.”

The cast may have been a little drunk during Midnight Margarita night

The infamous evening of drinking margaritas was not entirely scripted Channing said.  “I don’t know how drunk we were, but we decided to spiff it up with a drink,” she dished. “I think one of the hardest things to do is a fun, raucous party scene. By take 28, it is very hard to keep that up. I think it worked.”

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Channing added that she had instant chemistry with the other actors in the film. “It was a very, very congenial situation, playful,” she recounts. “Both Nic and Sandy were enormously warm. Sandy is very, very funny and smart, and Nic was just lovely. It was a very, very congenial time and all that coven-y thing of running around. But it’s hard work! That scene where Nic was on the floor writhing around, it went on for days. And she was incredible about it.”