How Jeff Daniel Phillips Reacted When He First Saw Himself In His The Munsters Makeup [Exclusive]

Whether it rises above its abysmal first look, "The Munsters" at least feels born out of sincerity. Director Rob Zombie ("The Devil's Rejects") is quite possibly the biggest "Munsters" fan. Even his song "Dragula" is based on the outlandish family vehicle, so despite the violent idiosyncrasies of his earlier work, Zombie oddly feels like the right person to both pay tribute to the '60s sitcom, while making it feel fresh for another generation.

While the "House of 1000 Corpses" filmmaker is the headliner, "The Munsters" features a pretty awesome cast with Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daniel Roebuck, Jorge Garcia, RIchard Brake, and Cassandra Peterson, most of whom are Zombie alumni in some way or another. Of everyone involved, however, Phillips has one of the most difficult shoes to fill.

Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, and Yvonne De Carlo all had to act through a bunch of makeup in the original CBS series, but Fred Gwynne ("My Cousin Vinny") probably had the most difficult role of them all as Herman Munster. He exuded kindness, humor, and heart, all while caked a mountain of prosthetics to make him look like your friendly neighborhood Frankenstein's Monster. There was truly no one else like him.

Going into Zombie's "The Munsters," not only does Phillips have to live up to Gwynne's memorable presence, but also make Herman his own in the process.

'I definitely had a huge smile'

In an interview with /Film's BJ Colangelo, Phillips said he was ultimately pretty happy with how it came out. When it came to selling his look, he focused on keeping the character moving in some capacity at all times in order to keep people's attention on the character and not any imperfections in the makeup. "That's my main goal as a performer is to just help sell this whole thing: the outfit, the shoes, the movement," says Phillips.

When "The Munsters" switched from black-and-white to color, Gwynne's makeup resembled more of a faded green, whereas Phillips is a popping neon green. With those sharper colors comes more layers on top of Phillips, which challenged the "31" actor to deal with the internal heat:

"Even in the screen tests I was just dancing and moving around so much, by the end of it, I was woozy because I was sweating so much in that thing. I was 15 degrees hotter than everybody else. But it was good for me to try to figure out how far I could go and how I could reserve that energy when I needed it."

Phillips is no stranger to comedy

Stepping into the platform boots of Gwynne is no easy task, but Phillips seemed up for it. He was taken aback, however, when he saw that some of the reactions he garnered from the first look led folks to wish they had cast someone based in comedy in the role. The sentiment confused Phillips, given that he's no stranger to the world of comedy.

Phillips has made a living of doing commercials, but it wasn't until now that I realized he was one of the central Geico Cavemen for a decade. "It's just another one of those tricks in the bag I have," says Phillips. While I don't exactly think the Caveman commercials are very funny, I do find it amusing that, with playing Herman, he's essentially hopping from a relatively normal dude caked in heavy makeup to another.

The co-star that Phillips really seemed to connect with was Roebuck, not just for how hard he made him laugh, but through a connection with their shared reverence of the classic movie monsters of their childhoods:

"We were both big fans of the monsters, like Lon Chaney, and being able to create another character. We had that in common. And now, we're grownups and we're doing basically the same thing. Meet the kid at the age of seven and you'll meet the adult, I guess."

With that in mind, I can't imagine how cool it must have been to build upon an extension of your childhood dream. At the very least, that's what the foundation of Zombie's film resembles.

"The Munsters" is now streaming on Netflix.