On display in Kimberly J. Brown's house is a framed letter from the late Debbie Reynolds.
The "Halloweentown" actress thinks about her on-screen grandmother "all the time" — especially during the month of October, when she and Reynolds used to break out their old witches' robes to bring smiles to fans' faces on the 31st. Now, when she needs a reason to smile, Brown rereads the words Reynolds wrote for her upon wrapping their final film together.
"(I) tried to soak up as much time with her as I could because she became another grandmother to me," she told The Times during a phone call last week. "So much of their relationship on screen mirrored what our relationship was in real life, so I'm grateful for that time I got with her."
Brown, 35, starred opposite the screen icon in the hit "Halloweentown" TV movies as Marnie, a spirited and determined young witch-in-training who joins forces with her grandmother, Aggie Cromwell (Reynolds), to save the universe from evil beings who want to keep the mortal and magical worlds divided.
Since the first in the series premiered on the Disney Channel in 1998, the family films have maintained a cult following, spurring annual fan events attended by Brown and other original cast members in celebration of the saga's title holiday. Because of the pandemic, this year's festivities are going virtual with GalaxyCon's "Halloweentown" Q&A and meet-and-greet featuring Brown and her onscreen mother, Judith Hoag, on All Hallows' Eve.
"(GalaxyCon) approached us to do something on Halloween, and I thought, 'What a fun idea,' because I do I travel around a lot usually doing different appearances at different cons," Brown said. "I love meeting fans and ... getting to connect with them personally too. And so I was bummed that that has been not really as much of an option this year."
Also participating in the cyber panel with Brown is her boyfriend and "Halloweentown II" co-star, Daniel Kountz, who played her on-screen nemesis, the vengeful son of the wicked warlock Kalabar. (Spoiler alert: Marnie and her fellow Cromwell witches defeat Kalabar in the first film. Hence the sequel's subtitle, "Kalabar's Revenge.")
The full-circle irony of Brown and Kountz's off-screen relationship is not lost on them or their loyal "Halloweentown II" fans. Upon discovering they're dating in real life, many are quick to remind the couple of dialogue from the beginning of the movie, which sees a smooth-talking, undercover Kal (Kountz) flirt his way into Marnie's good graces.
"People always love the ... 'If witches were all as pretty as you, they'd have a better reputation,'" Brown said, reciting one of Kal's pickup lines. "And then there's, 'Meeting you was everything I hoped it would be,' and that kind of thing. ... Before I discover that he's evil, obviously."
Kountz, 42, has largely retired from acting and now works as a real estate agent. But that hasn't stopped eagle-eyed Disney Channel aficionados from trolling his listings with comments such as, "Don't trust him. He'll turn your house gray" — a reference to the dark spell Kal casts on Halloweentown, transforming the vibrant haven for mythical creatures into a monochromatic wasteland.