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'Munsters' makeup transformed Jeff Daniel Phillips, Daniel Roebuck

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Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips, L) meets his future father-in-law (Daniel Roebuck). Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips, L) meets his future father-in-law (Daniel Roebuck). Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Jeff Daniel Phillips and Daniel Roebuck said the makeup for The Munsters, on home video and Netflix Tuesday, helped them transform into the characters from the classic TV sitcom.

Philips, 57, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview that his Herman Munster makeup took four hours to apply every day. The 6- to 7-inch platform heels and a headpiece increased his 6-foot-4 height to nearly 7 feet.

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"To balance on 6- to 7-inch heels, try to make it seem natural and have that boyish kind of energy, it was definitely a trip," Phillips said. "I would do yoga every day or try every other day just to keep limber enough because it was a tough one."

Herman Munster is a Frankenstein-like creation assembled from different people's body parts and reanimated with electricity. The film tells the story of how Herman came to life and met Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie), his future wife.

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The Herman costume also included a muscle suit. Phillips said he wrapped his ankles and knees to give his joints extra support in the elaborate costume.

"I only fell a couple times, but luckily I didn't get hurt," Phillips said.

When she meets Herman, Lily still lives with her father (Roebuck). Once they have their son, Eddie, he will become Grandpa Munster, but for now he is called The Count.

Roebuck, 59, said his makeup still took three and a half hours to apply his mustache, sideburns, wig and facial prosthetics. Roebuck has previously played recognizable characters, such as Jay Leno in the HBO film The Late Shift.

"I would forget I had it on and I'd walk by a reflection and I'd go, 'Oh yeah, there's Jay Leno,'" Roebuck said. "This was very much the same."

Phillips had prior experience with prosthetic makeup playing a caveman in a series of Geico commercials for 10 years. Phillips said the caveman makeup was more restrictive, but he was able to work out his face under the Herman Munster appliances.

"I was trying to make my chin longer," Phillips said. "Every day my jaw was almost out of whack from trying to elongate."

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Phillips said the green makeup would rub off, too.

"It was on my pillow," Phillips said. "It was in my hair."

The Munsters ran from 1964 to 1966. The show starred Fred Gwynne as Herman, Yvonne De Carlo as Lily, Al Lewis as Grandpa and Butch Patrick as Eddie. Patrick has a cameo in the Munsters film.

The film also explains that Herman's head came from hack comedian Shecky Von Rathbone, whom Phillips also played. Phillips said playing Shecky also helped him create Herman's voice by studying standup comedians.

"I literally had two full sets of comedy," Phillips said. "The old Vaudevillian performer, how he would set it up, his voice would come down and give the punchline."

The Count does not think Herman is good enough for Lily. Roebuck, a father of two, said he could relate because he was just as protective of his daughter, Grace.

"Every dad has the perfect kid and finding the right guy is difficult," Roebuck said. "Herman is an entertainer and we know they're poor. So I didn't want my daughter to be with an actor."

As the origin story for how the Munsters family came together, the actors were free to expand on the characterizations of their predecessors on television. Phillips made Herman more animated with physical gestures and dances than Gwynne's stoic Herman.

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"This Herman just got right off the slab and he's trying to find himself," Phillips said. " His voice is cracking. He's trying to figure out how to move in this big muscular body and he's not used to that."

Roebuck knew Lewis and Patrick personally and co-starred with Gwynne in the movie Disorganized Crime. Roebuck said he has been collecting "Munsters" and "Universal Monsters" memorabilia since he was a child.

"I'm the only guy who had the gonads to go to Fred Gwynne and go, 'Would you sign my Herman Munster doll?'" Roebuck said. "So I've got the only one signed by the man himself."

Roebuck said the wives of Gwynne and Lewis personally told him their husbands would be happy The Munsters are coming back. Lewis's wife, Karen, specifically shared what she expected Lewis's advice would be.

"Karen Lewis said, 'You know what Al would say? He'd say it's yours now, run with it,'" Roebuck said.

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