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Three Kids and a Mummy: A Chat with the Cast of “Under Wraps”

Monday, October 4, 2021 | Interviews


UNDER WRAPS (2021) follows three middle-school friends, Marshall (Malachi Barton), Gilbert (Christian J. Simon), and Amy (Sophia Hammonsas they happen upon and awaken a mummy (played by choreographer Phil Wright), who they affectionately name Harold. With Halloween fast approaching, they must rush to return him to his eternal resting place before a nefarious group of criminals can catch up to them and sell the mummy to the highest bidder.

RUE MORGUE sat down with the film’s three young stars and Wright to discuss the film, how tough it was to keep it together on set, and what families can expect from this future spooky season classic.

Were you all familiar with the original “Under Wraps”?

PW: Well, I was familiar with it [but] I had not watched it entirely. After I got casted, I had to go back and do my homework and watch it.

MB: Yeah, that’s about the same for me. Obviously, I’m 14 years old, so I wasn’t really part of the original generation of the 1997 version of Under Wraps. Maybe my parents were, but not me. But when I first got the audition, I went ahead and watched it, just to do some homework.

 SH: Yeah. Yeah. I never watched it, but I…actually, I wasn’t that familiar with it. [Laughs]

 But you guys watched it together before shooting?

 CJS: We did.

SH: We did. After we all got cast and while we were filming, we all got together in our hotel room and watched the movie together. I think we made sure not to watch it before we auditioned because we didn’t want it to be an exact replica or copy of the characters. I think they just wanted us to see how we interpreted the characters ourselves, which is great because we had a lot of creative freedom in the character process.

Malachi, your character is a big horror movie buff. Do you, personally, like scary movies?

 MB: Honestly, I think I might be more obsessed with scary movies than Marshall is. I love them so much. My all-time favorite is definitely The Shining, because it’s a classic, and it’s just such a cool, awesome movie. I  really like all of the classics like Friday the 13th, Freddy vs. Jason

 PW:  That’s my personal favorite right there, Freddy vs. Jason.

What about you, Sophia and Christian?

CJS: I like scary movies. You might have to walk me to my room after, but I’ll watch one. [Laughs]

SH: It depends on the scary movie for me. I will definitely not watch one alone. Not by choice. But I like A Quiet Place…I actually like that movie. I’ll watch a scary movie with you, Christian. One time, Malachi convinced us to watch this one scary movie about a hotel room that if you go into it, you can’t come back out because you die and stuff and it was actually so creepy. 

Is Christian a bad influence?

SH: He is. He loves horror movies. I don’t know how he convinced us to do it!

 CJS: And then after you watch the horror movie, he’ll [try to] scare you again. [Laughs]

SH: He’ll be like, “Did you guys see that?” [Points]

CJS: Exactly. [Imitating] “Oh my gosh! Sophia!”

What was it like working with Phil? Was it hard to keep it together on set?

CJS: Now let me tell you all something: a lot of people don’t know but Mr. Phil be cracking jokes under those prosthetics. Now, don’t get it twisted, he’d be cracking jokes but he’s still amazing to work with, and he really made it fun behind the scenes. We all came together for this movie and we understood the assignment. You ever heard of that before? “Understood the assignment?”

SH: We did. We did. Yeah, it was so much fun working with Phil. I don’t know how he did it, but he portrayed every single emotion through this crazy costume prosthetic mess, and it’s great. He did a fantastic job.

MB: I barely kept it together. [Laughs] He is so funny. It’s creepy how funny this guy is.

PW: Hey!

MB: I mean, we laughed so much on set, and Phil is just insanely talented, and it was just so fun to work with him.

Phil, as a choreographer, I assume this is unlike anything you’ve ever done before, right?

PW: This is my first debut. This is it for me. This is my first introduction into the feature film world. It was exciting! Although I didn’t have any dialogue, it was really, really fun. Actually, I’m glad I didn’t have any dialogue. [Laughs] Because these kids are pros, and we were laughing and joking off so much. I was actually happy that I could hide behind the mask, because Malachi would make me laugh so many times, and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m glad I’m not talking in this scene.”

It’s a pretty inspired choice to cast a dancer as Harold, but how did you go about building this character?

PW: It was pretty challenging, because when you think of dancer, choreographer, you think elusive, moves like water, and all of this stuff. But I had to build the arc of discovery of, “Hey, my elbow moves this way. My shoulder moves that way. Oh, I can turn my head that way.” And we had to really progressively push that throughout the movie, and without spoiling anything, he fully develops into this nice character that everyone is wanting to see.

What was the makeup and costuming situation like? 

 PW: Extreme, extreme. The makeup process was extreme. It took about an hour to get into every day, and about half an hour to take off, so if the kids had a 7:30 call time, I was there at 6:30. It was extensive, but once I got in it, I felt comfortable, and it felt great to do.

As for your costars, how was this experience different from the work you’ve done before?

CJS: Well, I’ve never done a location shoot for this long. That’s all the difference. We shot it in Vancouver, Canada, so that was fun, and getting to see all the different places. It’s so crazy because if you go to Canada, the McDonald’s menu is totally different, the KFC menu is totally different. It’s totally different. But it was super fun shooting it.

SH: You’re always talking about food. [Laughs] You’re in a different country and you’re like, “The menu…”

Hey, it’s a big change! What do you both think families are going to enjoy most about this film?

PW: I think they’re going to enjoy the character arcs. When you first see Amy, she’s this very investigative girl and then, I don’t want to spoil anything, once again, but there’s an arc with her. There’s an arc with Marshall, there’s an arc with Gilbert, and there’s an arc with Harold as well. So, it’s going to be quite a movie to watch. It’s going to be awesome. 

MB: I think that when parents and families watch this, they’re going to love the fact that there’s nothing bad about it, and they can watch it without having to lean over and close their kids’ eyes. It’s funny. It has a little bit of a scare factor to it, but also, it’s very family-oriented, and there’s a lot of things that a lot of kids are going to be able to relate to. I think it’s going to be cool for the parents to be able to look at their kids and watch the reaction of the movie, and their kids are going to be like, “Whoa, that’s cool,” and the kids are going to be able to have their own reaction, and the parents are going to be able to watch that.

CJS: I mean, I hope that they really enjoy the power of friendship. We grew close off set and so I really, truly believe that it showed on camera. And we worked really hard on this movie. I also hope people face their fears. They watch the movie and they go, “Man! I’m going to do this. I’m going to try this new thing. I just have to go after it.” I mean, you live once, so just go after it, and I hope that we inspire kids to keep dreaming big and doing their thing and realizing how important it is to have a good support system around you.

SH: I think it’s a really fun movie to watch with your family and your friends, so I hope they have a fun time!

UNDER WRAPS premieres October 8th on Disney+. Read our interview with writer/director Alex Zamm here.

Rocco T. Thompson
Rocco is a Rondo-nominated film journalist and avid devotee of all things weird and outrageous. He penned the cover story for Rue Morgue's landmark July/Aug 2019 "Queer Fear" Special Issue, and is an associate producer on In Search of Darkness: Part III, the latest installment in CreatorVC's popular 1980s horror documentary series.