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Almost four decades after Zach Galligan starred in the Joe Dante-directed blockbuster Gremlins you might think the actor would be kind of done with acting opposite that film's adorable furball, Gizmo. But Galligan says it was a somewhat moving experience to reunite with the character when he shot a new commercial for Mountain Dew Zero Sugar.
"It tends to be a slightly more emotional experience than I think it's going to be," says Galligan, who also appeared in 1990's Gremlins 2: The New Batch. "There was a time when we were shooting the commercial, and we had a little bit of a break, and the puppeteer is next to me and he's manipulating Gizmo's arms. I leaned over to Gizmo and I was like, 'How are you doing, buddy? It's good to see you.' It was so realistic that, after hours of working with it, it has its own reality. I did get a little choked up, not so much about reuniting with the puppet, but more that it sends you rocketing back 37 years in a way that almost nothing else does."
Below, Galligan talks about the likelihood of Gremlins 3 finally getting made, the Gremlins star he has yet to meet, and, yes, Baby Yoda.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Gremlins was a famously tricky shoot, because of the puppets. How did shooting the commercial compare to that?
ZACH GALLIGAN: These puppets were just as good as the original, if not better, which is funny because that's the Moutain Dew Zero Sugar tag-line: "Just as good as the original." If Warner Bros. decided to do Gremlins 3 my feeling was that it would be exponentially easier this time around than it was the first time. The first time, if there was a wire or a cable or something [showing] you had to scrap the entire take. Now, if you got a great take with a wire or a cable you just CGI it out. So, my guess is, it would be five to ten times easier to do it than we did in '83.
I feel that's the kind of thing people say before they make a movie. "It 's going to be ten times easier this time around!" You can imagine Werner Herzog saying, "Dragging a ship over a mountain will be no trouble at all this time!"
Yeah, I love Fitzcarraldo. You know, one of the things that happens is that people become emboldened. They'll do a commercial like this and go, 'Wow, we got really good results and it only took us an hour of practice.' So, what happens is people get more ambitious. They go, well, let's have Gizmo do a disco dance contest and then that becomes the nightmare. When the technology becomes easier, people become more ambitious, and then it just scales up.
You mentioned Gremlins 3, which I do feel I've been hearing about my entire lifetime. Have you heard anything more definite about that?
You feel like you've been hearing about it your entire lifetime? I swear to god, if I had a dollar for every time anybody asked me about Gremlins 3, I'd make Bill Gates look like a pauper.
I will send you a dollar if that makes you feel better.
They are doing a ten-part animated series called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai for HBO Max coming out later this year. You just simply have to look at the nature of the way large entertainment corporations deal with franchises and properties over the years and decades. It's not difficult to make an educated guess that the cartoon is a way of seeding the younger generation that's not aware of it. If it is successful, if it gets like Mandalorian-big, then I think Gremlins 3 is inevitable.
You brought up the Mandalorian. So, who is cuter, Baby Yoda or Gizmo?
Well, if you've looked at my social media, you'll see that there are a couple of memes on there that sort of poke fun at the similarity between Gizmo and Grogu, as we now know his name is. People have been bombarding me on social media with comparatives, scale drawings, and everything, and coming up with all sorts of theories about whether or not there was any kind of conscious decision behind it. All I can say is this: in many ways, it's really great because it's always very helpful in media to have a foil. Which one do you like better? Which one was first? It just is another kind of narrative you can use to drive people's engagement.
So, just for the record, which one do you think is cuter?
Well, I'm going to say my buddy is cuter. He's fuzzier and, to me, fuzzy is cuter. Baby Grogu seems like he's kind of been shaved, or maybe he's hairless.
Howie Mandel voices Gizmo in the commercial, as he did for the movies. I assume he wasn't on-set?
The strangest, most interesting, trivia thing about Gremlins is that, to this day, even though I am hugely associated with Gizmo, I have never met, nor have I ever spoken to, Howie Mandel once in my entire life. It's baffling that our paths have never crossed. I know nothing about the man, he knows nothing about me, at least that I'm aware of. At some point I'm hoping before I die, I'll meet him.
Watch the Mountain Dew Zero Sugar commercial, below.