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Being normal is vastly overrated.
Then again, for Halloweentown star Phillip Van Dyke, who played the goblin Luke in the first two films, normal is exactly what he wanted to be. In an exclusive interview with E! News, the San Francisco native shared that although he left the Hollywood limelight behind shortly after 2001’s Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, he’s now made his way back to the franchise, by way of the Spirit of Halloweentown festival in St. Helens, OR.
“In my early twenties, we didn’t have social media like we do today,” the 36-year-old explained. “So I don’t know if I even realized the level—the following—that these films had.”
Now, thanks to social media, kids who grew up watching Disney Channel Original Movies on Friday nights can interact with the stars they watched as kids. And praise the Cromwell magic for that, because where would we be without Marnie…er, Kimberly J. Brown‘s Halloweentown TikToks?
Van Dyke said that despite his last Halloweentown appearance having been nearly two decades ago, fans still come up to him—especially around Halloween—and share memories they have of watching him on-screen when they were young.
“When you realize that [the films] had such an impact on people and that they’re still fans and they’re still watching these films every single year, it is pretty incredible,” he shared. “It’s something that I try not to take for granted…and that’s what ultimately brought me back out to do something like the Spirit of Halloweentown event.”
“Working with her was fantastic,” Van Dyke said of the actress, who passed away in 2016. “I’ve come to be able to look back on that and appreciate that it was something pretty special to be able to do two films with her—to be alongside her and see her in action doing one of the things she did best…that is not something a lot of people can experience.”
We imagine that Reynolds had the same presence as someone like Oprah Winfrey would have today, a comparison he vehemently agrees with. “On set, people treated her just a little bit differently,” the father of three recalled. “She was someone that people gravitated toward and were a little bit in awe of at times.”
Between social media, all the fanfare around Halloweentown, and the Spirit of Halloweentown festival, it’s not hard for the cast to stay in touch. Van Dyke said he’s actually become great friends with Joey Zimmerman, who played Marnie’s brother Dylan in the films, and still chats with Brown on occasion—who, lest we forget, is now dating Daniel Kountz, as in Halloweentown II‘s villain Kal. (“Is that not the craziest thing!?” Van Dyke joked. Yes, yes it is.)
Sure, it’s been 20 years since his biggest on-screen projects, but Phillip Van Dyke has left quite the legacy for himself. Millennials who may not have caught him in Halloweentown likely heard him voice the titular character in Hey, Arnold for two seasons and caught his stint as Young Christopher in a little show called Gilmore Girls.
“Halloweentown, Gilmore Girls, and Hey, Arnold…for each of those it’s been 20 years or more, and people seem to embrace them and love them and really follow them to this day,” Van Dyke said. “It’s not something I ever could have predicted working on them back then.”