Mom and Pop Culture

'Wizards of Waverly Place' reunion secrets

On set with Selena Gomez, Jake T. Austin, Gregg Sulkin, Jennifer Stone and the parents

By MomPopCulture Wed 10:53 AM
'The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex'/Disney ChannelBy Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN TV

Less than a year after Alex won the family competition on the "Wizards of Waverly Place" series finale, the Disney family is back for more adventure, drama and laughs. The kids are all grown up, but they still have much to learn. In fact, Alex's machinations land her in a battle against herself in the hourlong special "The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex," set to premiere Friday, March 15.
"The Russo family gets an invitation to go to a Russo family reunion in Italy, because we're half Italian and half Mexican," Selena Gomez (Alex) set up when MSN TV caught up with the "Wizards" cast on their last day of shooting. "We fly out and Alex hasn't changed her ways. She's very selfish with magic and irresponsible."

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Alex tries to prove she can be a more responsible wizard, but her efforts backfire on her.

"She ends up casting out all the bad things about herself, so that everybody will love her," Gomez explained. "Then two of her pop out: a bad version and a good version."

Evil Alex falls in with a wizard (Beau Mirchoff) who has a dark plan to take over the world, which means it's up to Good Alex to save the day, not to mention her family. The battle between good and evil culminates in an Alex-vs.- Alex showdown on top of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa.

"It was a nightmare, but it was so much fun!" Gomez said of playing the dual role. "I had to be in all these costumes and lighter makeup and hair: Then I'd have to get into this hot pleather outfit and have white streaks in my hair and plumped-up purple lips. We went all-out for it. Evil Alex is very evil! It was fun to play a mean girl."

Gomez didn't just wear two wizard hats for the reunion. She also wore an executive producer hat, since she was the impetus for the special reunion. The idea came to her when she tuned in to Disney Channel in a random hotel room on the road.

"It was all the new shows on Disney, and it made me sad: I felt like we're the old folks that were kicked to the curb," Gomez recalled with a laugh. "I'm doing all these movies that are older, edgier and different, but little kids still come up and call me 'Alex' and still love the show. I did this for them. I wanted to let them know I still care about them and I will give my time to them, as much as I want to experience other things."

That says a lot, considering how much Gomez has been experiencing since the show wrapped. She joked that she doesn't have time to sleep, what with her music, her movies, her fashion empire, the Justin Bieber 'are they or aren't they?' buzz and everything else. Sometimes, she does feel stretched a bit thin. The reunion was no small addition to her plate, but it also served as a grounding break from the hustle of her life.

"It's like we never left. It's so beautiful, amazing," she raved of being back with her "Wizards" family. "I feel like I can just walk in and tell them anything that's going on and just be open and be myself. It's very hard to find that in this industry, but they were there from when I was 13 on, so they were there for the beginning."

That joy of coming home was a sentiment everyone in the cast shared with MSN TV, except David Henrie. He was not on set, as Justin won't be back for this adventure, but the actor did manage to get in some family time. 

"David invited us all over to his house and cooked us dinner," David DeLuise (Jerry) explained. "It was just us and family, which was wonderful, because no one was like, 'Hey, can I take a picture!' or 'We need you over here.' We actually got to visit.

"David could have been part of this, and I respect his decision," DeLuise added. "He just did a movie called 'Little Boy' and produced a documentary in Peru, where he [and Gregg Sulkin (Mason) were] building huts for families that didn't have homes. I'm so proud of him. I'm proud of all the kids. They are so talented. When I grow up, I want to be just like them."

While big brother is off on his own adventure, little brother Max is back in the fold. He's all grown up and ready for a romantic interest, but don't worry, underneath that strapping 6' frame, he's still the same goof. 
"Max is up to his usual business, getting into trouble, throwing things off and being the wild card," Jake T. Austin (Max) promised. "He brings a lot of the comedic relief and eases the tension. We've had a lot of fun falling back into the comedy, trying new spells and improvising."

Mom and Dad Russo will also get in a few laughs, especially during a grape-stomping fiasco, and, of course, Harper will bring a fresh round of wild wardrobe choices.

"I've got a lobster on my head at one point," Jennifer Stone (Harper) revealed with an eye roll. "That's all I'm saying!"

Laughs aside, Harper will have Alex's back, as always. Mason is also in Alex's corner. He may just have to wolf out to protect his girl -- assuming he can figure out which one she is.   

"The Mason-Alex relationship is going strong, but it will be tested," Sulkin teased. "Mason tries to help Good Alex, but he's caught up in the drama of not knowing which Alex is which.

"You can expect lots of stunts and special effects and more drama than ever in the special," he added. "And the sets have been amazing!"

Those sets include Italian creations like the Russo estate and a Tower of Pisa that actually leans, as well as a much more familiar set -- the Russo loft! 

"That's where we shot a lot of this special episode," Maria Canals-Barrera (Theresa) previewed. "It was recreated exactly like our original set. The couch is different. The new one is suede. Moving on up! But it looks exactly the same. I loved being there again."

Who says you can never go home again?
"The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex" premieres Friday, March 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel. A preview will be available for some cable customers via Disney Channel On Demand on March 8.

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Deanna Barnert

Deanna Barnert | Los Angeles, Calif.

Entertainment journalist Deanna "TVDeeva" Barnert visits sets, interviews industry players and critiques the final product. Buzz's daytime TV queen covers it all for MSN TV, but loves her sitcoms, soaps and any juicy drama that doesn't call itself Reality TV.