Witch, please: DeMello student appears in new Disney film

Oct 9, 2022

One of Dartmouth’s own made her cinematic debut in the sequel to a classic New England Halloween film.

Ariane Santos, a 10-year-old who attends DeMello School, appears in the first few minutes of Hocus Pocus 2, which debuted on Disney+ on Sept. 30.

“It was so much fun,” Ariane said of her filming experience.

The Dartmouth elementary schooler was cast as an extra to portray one of the Puritans in the beginning sequence, which takes place in Salem (although, her scenes were actually shot a bit closer to home in nearby Lincoln, Rhode Island).

Ariane’s casting was the result of a call producers put online. Her father, Ryan, saw the ad seeking locals to be extras and thought to sign up his whole family. The process involved filling out a form and sending photos before hearing back from the casting director on who will appear.

Of the family, only Ariane was chosen, who said she was not too keen on appearing on camera at the time.

“My brother was the one who really wanted to do it,” she said. “I was so scared.”

It was thanks to some words of encouragement from her dance instructor at the New Bedford Performing Arts Center that Ariane got the courage to get her start in film (and make her brother a bit jealous).

“She told me I was a really good actor,” she said, noting that it’s part of what she does at the dance academy.

Filming for her scenes took place over the course of four days in October 2021. Being on set, she said, was an experience she’ll never forget.

One standout moment, she said, was getting her Puritan costume. In particular, doing the fittings.

“We did it in a literal castle,” Ariane said, referring to the Cranston Street Armory in downtown Providence.

Those working in the wardrobe department were dressed pretty interestingly, the 10-year-old said.

“They looked like they were out of a 1980s movie,” she said.

The clothes were also custom fit just for her.

“I had my own special bonnet,” Ariane said with a smile.

Unfortunately, she was unable to bring her costume back home. Although, she said she might try to do something Hocus Pocus-related for this coming Halloween.

Perhaps the biggest highlight was getting to chat with actor Tony Hale, known for his work in acclaimed sitcoms such as “Arrested Development” and “Veep.” In Hocus Pocus 2, Hale plays two characters, including the father of Ariane’s Puritan girl.

“She’s actually one of the few extras who had a family,” Ryan said.

Ariane recalled a moment where Hale had a group of the child extras close their eyes while he did his “Forky” voice from the 2019 film “Toy Story 4,” in which he played a prominent character.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God!” she said.

Also in Ariane’s “family” was an extra who played her mother who, coincidentally, is also from Dartmouth and also went to DeMello when she was a child.

“What are the odds?” said Annemarie, Ariane’s actual mother.

Ariane also had the pleasure of meeting the film’s director, Anne Fletcher.

“She was so nice,” the young DeMello student said.

It wasn’t all glamor though, as Ariane said she was still required to get some schooling done in one of the tents set up near the set, even when her classmates back in Dartmouth got to stay home due to last year’s nor’easter.

“I thought for sure [filming] would have been canceled,” Annemarie said. “But, nope, there they were in the country. Meanwhile, we had no power for like 24 hours.”

Ariane and her father (who drove her to Rhode Island) had to get up at 4 a.m. each day and take Covid tests before getting into costume and heading on the shuttle to the set.

“It was a lot of coffee,” Ryan said. “Thankfully, it was free on set.”

Still, Ariane said getting her first shot in the movie industry was “cool,” especially when she saw she made the cut once the film premiered. A fellow extra, a seasoned one who was cast as her character’s brother, did not appear at all in the film.

“Luckily we see her right in the beginning,” Annemarie said. 

Because of this experience, the 10-year-old said she’s become rather popular at DeMello.

Ariane said she had a large group of friends over to watch the film, who immediately screamed when they saw her.

“We were so loud,” she said. “It was so funny.”

She added that she and her friends enjoyed watching the rest of the film.

“I like the way they take some of the things from the first movie and use it in the new one,” Ariane said.

Teachers at DeMello were also excited and proud. Ariane noted that she even got a hug from her physical education teacher.

As an extra, Ariane did not get a speaking role. 

Ryan noted that there was potential for her to have a line if crews had more time, but the weather was not cooperative enough to make that a reality in Hocus Pocus 2.

“Maybe next film,” Ariane said with a smile.