[Interview] Malachi Barton & Phil Wright for UNDER WRAPS
UNDER WRAPS l Disney/Brendan Meadows
In the upcoming Disney remake of the 1997 Halloween special, UNDER WRAPS, 12-year-old friends Marshall, Gilbert, and Amy accidentally revive and release a mummy from its sarcophagus in the days leading up to Halloween. At first terrified, they quickly learn that the Mummy who they have named Harold, is very sweet and in dire need of assistance.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the chance to chat with actors Malachi Barton and Phil Wright about the film, where they covered everything about what it was like working off of each other, what it was like for Phil to become a mummy onscreen, and how working on the practical sets tapped into that Halloween spirit.

To start things off, what did you enjoy most about playing the characters of Harold and Marshall?

Phil Wright: One of my favorite things about playing [Harold] was I had the chance to get into a costume every day. The process is extensive, but once you’re in it, it’s so fun to do. It’s like celebrating Halloween every day. It was really, really cool to do.

Malachi Barton: I really loved just being myself and being able to create and develop the [Marshall] character.

For you Malachi, what was it like when you first saw Phil’s embodiment of Harold?

Malachi Barton: It was pretty crazy. I’m not gonna lie. I knew what he looked like before this and then I see him in the costume and I’m like, “Is that Phil? Are we sure that’s Phil?” [Laughs]. It was really cool and something I had never done before.

For you Phil, we kind of touched upon this earlier but what was the process like in regards to actually becoming Harold?

Phil Wright: I think they knew that this mummy was going to dance in the movie. They knew that this mummy has to move around or whatnot so I think they had an idea in their brains like, look, he has to be able to move in this costume. And the special effects people did an amazing job with it because it was really easy. It was just like wearing clothes. Obviously, I had a big helmet on my head and contacts and stuff, but it was really just like having on regular clothes. They made it very, very easy for me to incorporate dance moves and to be as physical as possible.

(Disney/David Bukach)

Piggybacking off of that, were you able to improvise the character of Harold, or was it mainly just what the script asked for?

Phil Wright: Obviously, I didn’t really have dialogue but [Director] Alex Zamm and I really considered Harold’s own language. There are many times where Harold grunts and he moans and he expresses his feeling even though he can’t really speak English. It was great doing that and creating our own language and then making it easy for the audience to understand what he was feeling.

And for you Malachi, what was your experience like working on these amazing practical sets? It seems like they truly captured the Halloween spirit. 

Malachi Barton: It was awesome because it was like…I am a massive Halloween fan. It’s easily one of my favorite holidays and it’s the same way with my parents. We’re kind of a Halloween family and we love to watch horror movies and all of that. It was really cool to be able to work on that set because I’m around these insane pieces of artwork. You see what Mr. Kubat’s house gets turned into. While we were filming, it’s this completely destroyed, nasty, old house and then when we wrapped, I went back to drive past it, to look at it and it is just this gorgeous, perfect yard, nothing bad about it. It’s really insane to see the transformation of those things.

Were either of you familiar with the 1997 UNDER WRAPS film prior to filming?

Phil Wright: I was familiar with the original. I had not watched it completely. I had heard of it, but I had never had the chance to watch it. But when I was casting for the role, I went and did some homework and got some nuggets. Shout out to Bill Fagerbakke who played the very first Harold. He did such an amazing job. But also in that same voice, I wanted to bring my own perspective to Harold and hopefully, I did a great job doing it.

Before we wrap up I must know, what’s your favorite monster? 

Phil Wright: Godzilla was something real back in the day. I thought Godzilla was for real, seriously [Laughs].

Malachi Barton: I’m going to say Frankenstein cause he’s a mad scientist and he’s creepy and he can do experiments on you.

UNDER WRAPS premieres on Friday, October 1 (8 PM ET/PT) on Disney Channel, and Friday, October 8, on Disney+. For more on UNDER WRAPS, check out our review here.

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