Inside The 'Inclusive' Remake Of 'Under Wraps,' Disney Channel's First Original Movie
Photo Credit: Disney Channel
Interviews , Film

Inside The 'Inclusive' Remake Of 'Under Wraps,' Disney Channel's First Original Movie

It's safe to say if you remember Under Wraps, you're a Disney Channel O.G. -- because it was the very first Disney Channel Original Movie released way back in 1997.

Over 20 years later, what's old is new again as Under Wraps is back again with a new film that's coming just in time for spooky season.

Per the official description, it follows three 12-year-old friends, Gilbert, Marshall and Amy, "as they happen upon and awaken a mummy, which they affectionately name Harold, and must rush to return him to his resting place before midnight on Halloween. Along the way, the team narrowly escapes a nefarious group of criminals intent on selling the mummy to the highest bidder. When Harold is inevitably captured, Marshall, Gilbert and Amy must band together to stand up to the criminals, face their fears and rescue their new—but rather "ancient"—friend."

Ahead of the film's premiere, Shadow and Act chatted with the film's director, Alex Zamm, as well as stars Malachi Barton (Marshall), Christian J. Simon (Gilbert), Sophia Hammons (Amy) and Phil Wright (Mummy Harold), to get insight on the remake.

Zamm, who also directed R.L. Stine’s: The Haunting Hour, spoke about the feeling of responsibility in regards to remaking the film but also having a fresh spin on it.

He told us, "I love the original. I grew up with it too and I felt this real sense of responsibility to bring it to a new generation. [But] you also have this responsibility to be true to it, but to places where you can make it your own or update it. So there's a couple [of] areas where I thought we put our own spin on it. So I would say that one was embracing the actor, Phil Wright's enormous ability with choreography. He's a gifted choreographer. So we made dance a big part of Harold's coming into his own. And that was a fun part of embracing it first in Buzzy's shop, and then later at the big carnival. The other one was ways in which we knew he was going to be a fish out of water, so we could dress that up in all different ways."

One way to bring the new film in the modern-day was to involve technology when crafting this version. "The first one had him going to a hospital, and he was at odds with the house and then he goes to a fast food restaurant But this one, I said, 'Let me play with technology.' And he's at odds with an Alexa remote and a television set..and even [something] as simple as a honey bottle. And then modern thing [happens] like a bus just drags him across around the town in the back. So there was a lot of things we could play with our version of him being a fish out of water."

To play the film's mummy, Harold, actor and acclaimed choreographer Phil Wright was tapped as the one for the job. Wright says he was able to incorporate his skillset in the role from the jump.

"It was fun because from the beginning to end, you could see Harold's discovering his hand moves this way [and] his elbow moves that way or what not and Alex being so open to the fact that Harold could dance. That was another thing. So that was a really, really fun part in the movie that I was able to implement. And to add to that, Alex was very, very open to collaborating, it was not so much of a dictatorship. [Instead of], 'Hey, do this, do that,' he was like, 'Hey, you have any ideas? Throw them on the table.' And I was able to throw my ideas on the table and we were able to make that scene to come alive. So it was really, really fun to do."

Of course, because they weren't even born yet, or as Barton said...he was age "0," the young cast had not seen the film and didn't know too much about it, but got very acquainted.

"I thought maybe watching it might've given me some ideas, which of course I want, but I just wanted to put my own twist on it," said Simon. And then if I am looking it, then going back and look at it and be like, 'OK, I see what he did.' But I'd never even heard of Under Wraps. It's amazing. I actually knew Mr. Phil [Wright] before I did Under Wraps. I used to take his dance classes, but Mr. Phil, it's so amazing working with him. He's such a professional. He comes, he knows what he wants to do. He's so easy to work with and he keeps us going, I got to say. But it is hard sometimes, because he'd be cracking jokes on them mummy costume. Like right before he says, action, he'll tell us the joke [laughs]."

Hammons teased the vulnerability that is explored in this version of the film.

"It's harder for people to see the more vulnerable moments of each of our characters, because even just looking at the trailer and just thinking of the story in general, and you know that it's a very fun story," she said. "It's a very adventurous, fun story, and I'm excited for people to see that it's more than that. It's heartfelt and there are some scenes that show them being vulnerable. And Gilbert has a scene where he's facing his fears, he's overcoming his fears and that's an incredible scene."

Watch the full interview below:

Under Wraps premieres Oct. 1 on Disney Channel.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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