It’s been a few crazy years for Milo Manheim. His first leading role was in the 2018 Disney Channel Original Movie Zombies. The 18-year-old is now reprising his role as Zed in the highly-anticipated Zombies 2, which premieres Feb. 14 on Disney Channel. “It’s happening so quick for me,” Milo told HollywoodLife. “It’s just so unreal. I love my life. I feel so lucky.”
HollywoodLife sat down with Milo to talk about what to expect in the sequel, including Zed’s thoughts on the werewolves heading to Seabrook. He also discussed Zeddison and why he loves working with Meg Donnelly so much. The young actor opened up about currently attending New York University and why he wanted to enroll in college right now. Check out our full Q&A below.
What can you say about the werewolves and what they bring to Zombies 2?
Milo Manheim: I think the overall idea of both the first and second movie is that you have to be open to change and you have to be accepting of other people. I think that what is so great is that in the first movie, we have the zombies showing the humans what makes them so special. And then in the second one, we have these werewolves come and, at first, they’re very scary and everybody is worried about that. Addison is the first person to ask them about themselves and get to know them and she starts to realize how cool they are and how awesome their culture is and how different it is.
Is there one werewolf in particular that Zed definitely doesn’t like?
Milo Manheim: I think that Zed wants to protect Addison and he’s just nervous about them. I think that he’s most intimidated by Wyatt, played by Pearce Joza, who is constantly talking to Addison and they’re getting along very well. So not only is he threatened for her safety and his safety, but he’s threatened about their relationship. He feels like he’s beginning to lose her. But I would say that Chandler [Kinney], who plays the Willa, is the fiercest of the werewolves.
How do you think that Zed has changed from the first movie to the second?
Milo Manheim: In the second movie, the situation that the werewolves are presented with is very similar to the situation that happened with the zombies in the first one. Zed is sort of getting this outside perspective now and the roles have kind of reversed. When it happens, he kind of takes the similar side that the humans took when zombies were trying to be integrated into Seabrook. He’s so distracted by all these negative thoughts and worried about what it’s going to mean for his relationship with Addison and his status at the school. He’s originally just kind of blinded by them. I think that in the first movie he’s so joyful and is still joyful the second one, but in the first movie, it’s all happening for him and it’s all new for him. I just feel like in this one he’s faced with many more problems and a different side of the situation.
Zombies is very much about being open and accepting of others. As you read both scripts, was there a moment where you felt like you experienced some of this in high school?
Milo Manheim: The whole reason I took Zombies in the first place is because I love the message behind it. Growing up, I was doing theater my whole life. There were not a lot of boys that were doing theater and who were proud to do theater. So I feel like everybody in their life has a time and place where they feel out of place, and they feel like they’re not welcome or they feel different. I feel like I struggled with that so much growing up. I’m so grateful to be a part of this franchise that has such an awesome message of acceptance. High school is such a tough time, especially when it comes to feeling like you’re trying to fit in everywhere. The case is that you shouldn’t really be trying to fit in everywhere, you should be doing what makes you happy. I think that’s what you can learn from these movies.
Fans obviously are very passionate about Zeddison. What do you love most about their relationship?
Milo Manheim: It’s great because when me and Meg first were auditioning for this movie, they originally hadn’t paired us together. I was reading with somebody else. She was reading with another guy. When we weren’t doing the scenes, we were still talking. I feel like the chemistry between us was just immediate in real life and shows up on camera as well. I really think that the fans can see that. Me and Meg truly always have a great time on set no matter what it is. We both love to be there. We both love acting. All I ask for is that I have a cast who is just as passionate as I am about the project I’m doing. I definitely lucked out in that sense. Me and Meg just get along so well. We have such similar senses of humor, so I just think that we mesh really well.
Does Zombies 2 leave it open for a third movie?
Milo Manheim: Yes. I mean, any movie leaves it open for another one if you think about it. There are some things that might hint to the third one. Honestly, they haven’t told me. I would love to and they are definitely well aware that I’d love to a third one but we’ll see what the fans think of the second one.
You are in college right now. Why was it important for you to go to college at this point in your career?
Milo Manheim: It was always part of my plan to go to college. I come from a family of academics. As I was getting closer to graduating and my career was sort of picking up me my mom had the conversation. She was like, “You know, I’m not going to make you go to college if you don’t want to because your ball is rolling right now. We don’t want to stop that.” I was just thinking about it and I never really had any classical training. I really just jumped into this movie without doing anything before. Zombies was my first professional thing. The only experience I had was doing musical theater at my school, but it’s not like they give me hardcore notes there. The only thing I learned there is what I learned from myself and sort of picked up along the way. I wanted to take a second to just get taught and to listen to the things that stick out to me and that really helped me. I felt very rushed into it and I just feel like I needed to take a pause and learn some more. I’m in Tisch. In high school, I had so many talented friends and actors that were in these shows, but nobody wanted to pursue a career, so coming to Tisch is amazing because I’m surrounded by all these fellows collaborators who are just as passionate about acting as I am.
Are you doing drama? Does that involve any musical theater?
Milo Manheim: In Tisch drama, there are studios and in each one, they focus on a different method of acting. In some of them, they cover musical theater but I’m not in one that does that. We mostly focus on classical plays and contemporary plays as well. Their goal is to try to get us to be comfortable on the stage. I believe you need to act in theater before you can act on film because there’s so much more to think about and to be distracted by when you’re making a movie. I think that to learn how to truly act you’ve got to do some stage plays first.
How are you liking it so far?
Milo Manheim: I’m loving it. Something I learned on Dancing With the Stars is you really get out what you put in. I’ve just put more and more effort in as the year has gone on because I’m just feeling more rewarded as I do these scenes with my fellow scene partners. I’m learning so much. It’s long days, like 9 to 5 every day. But you know, even if I learn 15 minutes of information in a day, it’s worth it because I’m learning something.
So after Zombies 2, are you just going to focus on school for a little bit?
Milo Manheim: I have no idea. Everybody keeps asking me about my plans for the future. I’m kind of just going with the flow and I know that’s not a very good way to think about it, but I don’t know what’s going to come along. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not going to do anything that I don’t want to do. Hopefully, I’ll have many options to choose from in the future. But we’ll see.
You obviously have a great voice. Do you want to pursue music at all?
Milo Manheim: I consider myself an actor and then a singer and a dancer. After Dancing with the Stars, I consider myself more a dancer now. I feel like I’m the worst at singing out of all those three things, so I’ve started taking singing lessons just because I want to become better and I love to do it. That’s what I want to do with the rest of my life, so why not try to better myself? I would love to do more things that involve singing. Everything I’ve done so far in my professional career has been musical and I’m fine with that path.
Do you talk with your mom [actress Camryn Manheim] about acting and your goals?
Milo Manheim: It’s funny because, in one sense, she’s my mom. A lot of the times it’s hard to be told what to do by your mom. She’s also an Emmy Award-winning actress, who has so many tips for me. When it comes to auditioning, I always will come to her if I need help with anything, but where having an actor mom has helped me the most is just being on set. When I have questions about something, I can always ask her and she is so knowledgeable about it all. I’m really grateful for that.
You were the runner-up of Dancing With the Stars season 27. If they ever did an all-star season, would you do it?
Milo Manheim: Here’s the deal: yes, I totally would consider it. I had so much fun on the show. I totally would want to do it again. I know that I probably wouldn’t win because if we’re talking about all the all-stars, there’s going to be some insane dancers there. But I’m so down. I learned so much the first time and I would love to do it again.
What does being a part of the Zombies family mean to you?
Milo Manheim: When it comes to the fans and the people watching, I feel like I have a responsibility to use my voice in a good way. I feel like I’m figuring out what it is that I’m trying to do with all of this because I know that there’s going to be a big picture coming up soon that I’m going to start focusing on. I’m talking about with my mom and I don’t know what I’m going to use this platform for, but to me, I see all these videos and I get so many comments and feedback from all the families that have watched it. It just helps these young girls and boys through their school experience. A lot of the time, I’ll get letters saying, “I’ve been bullied in school and watching your movie has helped me through that.” I definitely feel like I’ve made a change in so many people’s lives. That is just something that means the most to me. When it comes to the cast, I have a family that I will have forever. I haven’t even spent that much time in Toronto but I feel like all my friends are there. I feel like a Toronto person because I leave so much of my life back there. So much happens there and when you go to shoot a movie like that, it’s your whole world. Everything about this is just a blessing.