EXCLUSIVE: Actress Melanie Brook Speaks About Starring In Disney’s ‘Under Wraps’ Reboot, Lizzie McGuire, And More! (INTERVIEW)
It’s no secret that Disney loves to reimagine its existing intellectual properties. The company’s live-action reboots of the iconic animated films that it built its empire on are a prime example of this.
Despite the numerous reboots the company currently has in production, however, this year one of its lesser known films from the small screen Disney Channel catalogue is also getting that treatment.
In 1997, Under Wraps had the pleasure of being the Disney Channel’s very first original movie. Nearly 25 years later, it now has the pleasure of being the very first DCOM rebooted for the channel – and hopefully not the last.
While the film premiered officially this past Friday on the network, it heads to Disney+ this week. Ahead of its release, The DisInsider’s very own Dempsey Pillot got to speak to one of the film’s stars, Melanie Brook.
In the interview the two spoke about the film’s production, the burden of tackling an arguable classic, other Disney Channel films and properties they hope get the same treatment, and much more!
You can read the full interview down below:
Dempsey Pillot: So I saw the film, I really enjoyed it. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. And this leads into my first question. I don’t know if you know this; not a lot of people do. The original Under Wraps was the Disney Channel’s very first DCOM. Did you grow up seeing it, or were you a fan of the movie?
Melanie Brook: I’m a little too young to have grown up seeing it. But when I auditioned for the movie, I watched it for the first time and loved it. Huge fan of the original [now].
DP: You make me feel old! I remember seeing it as a little kid– Oh, no, this is bad. This is very bad.
MB: Slightly too young. Just missed it.
DP: I mean, all Disney Channel original movies are really great. I love the ones in the very beginning, like even after Under Wraps, especially when they were coming into what they eventually came to be like, as they were finding their voice and finding what kind of entertainment they wanted to have on the Disney Channel. I find them all to be fantastic. As I mentioned before, this is not just a really good film, but a good remake. I think it really does a good job at adapting the source material, making it modern. There’s a lot of social media and technology at play here that I don’t think was ready at the time of the original movie, not to date myself [again]. How did you become involved in this project?
MB: This was just a random audition for me. I was really excited when I got it because I’m a Disney Channel fan, but yeah, I didn’t know anyone on the team before anything. This was just an audition, and I really connected with Buzzy and it ended up working out.
DP: That’s crazy. So what you read the script, or someone pitched the idea to you? And you were like, yeah, maybe I’ll throw my hat in the ring?
MB: Yeah…this was all during COVID. So I actually filmed [my tape] from my house. We had the callbacks from my house. This was all over zoom, which was really interesting. And yeah, it just came through. I read the script, I absolutely loved it. Luckily they liked me too, and it worked out.
DP: One thing I really like about your character is that she feels like a kid, even though she’s not a kid. When we first meet your character, I thought, she was like his older sister – and that’s definitely like the kind of like character that you are in spirit. But how was it working with a bunch of kids? Was it hard to keep up? Was it challenging? I mean, are used to working with kids in this capacity?
MB: No, this was my first time working with kids in this capacity, and I was a little nervous. But it was incredible. If I could work with kids in this capacity for the rest of my life, I would. These kids specifically – our three main kids – they’re incredible. Not only incredible actors but just really down to earth, incredible kids. We all became genuine best friends. Like I came home, and I’m I am friends with 12-year-olds and I love it. We truly all became a family, and we all just had a blast.
DP: The mummy too? … I’m kidding, of course.
MB: So Phil Wright plays the Mummy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work, but he’s an incredible dancer and choreographer. As you saw in the movie, I think it adds so much.
DP: Now, one thing I kept on wondering watching the movie is how tight were his prosthetics? Was he able to talk or communicate beyond gesturing to you guys, or did he need assistance communicating with you guys. I can Imagine being under that kind of costume. I mean, depending on how thick it was applied to him might have been difficult for filming. So was it?
MB: That’s a great question. He had to get to set every day, hours before everyone else. And he had a full team getting him into that prosthetic. It ended up looking amazing. But to answer your question, he was able to communicate, he had a mouthpiece. It was kind of like a retainer, so he was able to easily take it out and talk to us thankfully because, as you see in the movie, he doesn’t speak English. But outside of the movie, he was able to take out the prosthetic and chat with us on set.
DP: As you said, he does a really fantastic job, especially dancing. I was like, “Okay, this guy’s definitely a dancer professional.” Now, this movie looked like it was so much fun to make. And there are very few films that I’ve seen that I can say that for. But this film, it looks like you guys like you probably forgot the cameras were rolling at some points. How was it being on a film set that was essentially Halloween all the time?
MB: Oh, that’s such a good question. I’m so glad you picked up on that because it truly was the best time and I love Halloween. I mean, who doesn’t love Halloween? But we were filming in the winter, but every detail was just so Halloween oriented. And it was such a blast.
DP: Yes, I’m glad you said that! The devils in the details, no pun intended. When there’s transitions to other scenes, [and we see] TV screens showing all the classic monster movies like Nosferatu, the original Mummy… I enjoyed that. Are any of those [films] your favorites? What’s your favorite monster? And you don’t have to say Mummy. Don’t feel pressured.
MB: Well, I also do have to give credit to our director, Alexander, who is a big horror person and really made sure those details were on point throughout the whole movie. He also just created such a fun set experience. But to go back to your question, my favorite monster… That is hard, and this might be embarrassing. It’s also not a monster, but the first thing that came to mind. I’m a big fan of the Twilight series. Not a monster at all, but I love vampires. I love Twilight and the Vampire Diaries. I love anything that mixes like romance and vampires. That’s my stuff, and that might be embarrassing to admit but here I am.
DP: It’s okay. Back in the day, you know, since we’re putting it all out there, I was Team Edward. Okay? You get that little exclusive, or maybe I might omit that from the final interview…Going back to how fun this was to film though, is there a particular scene that was your favorite to film?
MB: Oh my god, all of them, but the driving scenes for me were really fun. I lived in New York at the time, and have lived there my whole life and just hadn’t driven in a long time. So to be able to drive a literal hearse that was decked out in full Halloween gear with the kids in the back. We had so much fun filming those scenes because we were just stuck in this little hearse together, like just just having the best time.
DP: Isn’t the hearse the vehicle that the Ghostbusters use? Is that like another key Easter egg?
MB: I’m so glad you picked up on that. Of course DCOMs are geared towards kids, but I genuinely think that adults like you and I will love this movie because of those sort of details, especially like big horror people will pick up on things that our director and our set designers collaborated to create.
DP: So this leads into my next question, what do you hope anyone who watches this, kids or adults, take away from it? Is there a core core theme or message that you hope really resonates with the audience?
MB: Yeah, I think everything that everyone loved about the ’97 original is still there. Like we have the heart of the film, the friendship, the comedy, like everything that generation fell in love with is still present in the remake, but [I think] we add even more heart. I think the fact that we were also close onset really shines through, and I think at the core of this movie, it’s about friendship. That’s something that everyone can relate to.
DP: Very well said, and I couldn’t agree more. Now this is actually my final question. Besides Under Wraps, what is your personal favorite Disney Channel Original Movie or one that you hope to see rebooted next, if they continue to reboot some of their old properties?
MB: That is such a hard question. When I was growing up, High School Musical was my life, but Lizzie McGuire, which I know isn’t a DCOM really impacted me I basically based my personality off of Lizzie McGuire. So The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which actually was released in theaters – but I think does that still counts as a DCOM – I’m gonna say that.
DP: I’ll give it to you because they had Even Stevens as a movie, and that was a DCOM, and it was the same kind of idea, just [as you said] released theatrically.
MB: Yes! And speaking of Even Stevens, that also made a huge impact. Those girls, Christy Carlson Romano, Hilary Duff. So I would love to see either of those rebooted. I think that would be incredible. I would die for that.
DP: Now, Melanie, those are all the questions that I had to ask, but is there anything else that you want to add? Or you think that people should know about the film?
MB: I think that if you’re a purist of the original, do not be afraid to tune in. I do not think we will let you down. I think it’s even better than the original.
You can catch reruns of Under Wraps on the Disney Channel all month long but, as mentioned earlier, Disney+ subscribers will be able to view the film for free beginning this Friday, October 8th.