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Jean Smart reveals “Hacks” Salem witch trial joke based on her own Wiccan genealogy

The actress is descended from Dorcas Hoar, who was arrested for witchcraft in 1692.

It's hard out there for a witch.

Jean Smart learned that lesson firsthand when she discovered she was descended from Dorcas Hoar, a woman born in 1635 and later accused of being a witch. Smart's acclaimed dramedy series Hacks, however, mined the actress' Wiccan roots for laughs.

"I found out that my eight-times-great-grandmother on the maternal side was convicted of witchcraft in Salem in 1692. I had no idea," Smart recently told IMDb in an interview. "Nobody in the family knew this, and it was a very moving experience to find out."

<p>Karen Ballard/Max</p> Jean Smart on 'Hacks'

Karen Ballard/Max

Jean Smart on 'Hacks'

Joking with costar Hannah Einbinder, who plays her assistant/best friend/archenemy Ava on the show, Smart quipped, "But thank you for making fun of it." Smart discovered her roots in a 2018 episode of TLC's Who Do You Think You Are?

Einbinder went on to describe the scene from Hacks, recalling, "Ava's pitching jokes and she's going like, 'It says here you're like, maybe a descendant of a witch. That could be great. We could incorporate that.'"

Smart added that her character, Deborah Vance, was excited to comment on "women being persecuted by a male-dominated society," only to realize that Deborah's descendant was one of the witch trial… accusers. Thus Ava's pitch was quickly abandoned.

Hacks returns to Max on May 2, nearly two years after its Emmy-winning second season that many feared would be its last. The show stars Smart as a ribald, Joan Rivers-esque comedienne who finds a kindred if antagonistic spirit in young comedy writer Ava, herself recently canceled for a questionable tweet. Smart won back-to-back Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmys in 2021 and 2022.

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