Milo Manheim on Playing a Different ’80s Jock

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy talks to School Spirits star Milo Manheim about to play ’80s jock ghost Wally. The actor talks about breaking clichés and driving a golf cart. The series is set to debut on Paramount+ on March 9.

“In the series, Maddie, a teenage girl who remains in the afterlife investigates her mysterious disappearance,” reads the synopsis. “Maddie goes on a crime-solving journey as she adjusts to high school and the afterlife, but the closer she gets to uncovering the truth, the more secrets and lies she uncovers.”

Spencer Legacy: What drew Wally to the character when you first read about him?

Milo Manheim: On a surface level, he’s just fun! Who doesn’t want to play Wally? He has a fun energy about him. He is very positive. I really tried to get into my character [and] put myself in their shoes. Often when you play a tense character, that can go home with you. Wally always put me in a good mood and I was always in a good mood on my way to work, listening to ’80s music to get into the Wally Zone.

But when I agreed to do this movie, I only read the first two episodes. It’s a murder mystery and they don’t want you to know what’s going to happen because they want to surprise you and they want to lower the risk of anything going wrong. So I just trusted that his journey was one that I would enjoy. And I’m really amazed at how … when you delve into his life, his story becomes – at least for me – super relatable and there are so many multilayers to him, like you said. He breaks the ’80s jock stereotype of those who know him best.

Because he’s from the ’80s, you’re playing a character from a time when you’re not alive, but you’re playing him in the present while he’s still from that time. What are some challenges that come with all the different layers?

I’m really studying. I watch those ’80s movies, I listen to a lot of eighties music. In fact, I think when I was in Vancouver shooting, it was all I listened to. As an actor, I love these challenges and for me, the physicality of it all is a big thing. I watch all these movies, especially those ’80s jocks, watching how they move and how they walk and they have this bounce on them, and when they sit down, they take the space – they really don’t care.

It was great exploring with Wally and I’m just glad he’s generally positive as opposed to otherwise. Sometimes the jocks are too cool for school and while Wally is too cool, he enjoys school with his friends. Yeah man, it was a great time playing him and exploring him and creating. As I grew up, he grew up, and that was wonderful.

Another very nice scene with him is driving the cart. Is it you and Peyton [List] in the cart for those scenes?

I don’t know how much I’m allowed to talk about this stuff. I haven’t seen that episode yet! But we drove a cart. We had an amazing time. We drove the cart. Actually, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m amazing at driving a golf cart. I’m amazing. We have an instructor who tells us what to do and we just go on the set when we have free time, I say, “Yo, hop in!” I think his name is Jasper. I said, “Jasper, hop in!” And we just go carting and Peyton is a good passenger — I love Peyton. Those were some of my favorite scenes, the Wally and Maddie scenes, and that was definitely one of the funnest experiences I’ve had on the series.

You mentioned before that Wally is more relaxed than other ghosts. How fun is it to play that lighthearted contrast to other actors who have to be more serious?

Dude, this is amazing! First of all, I am a problem solver in real life. I don’t like to cause any issues like other characters do — Rhonda. But it’s great to be able to explore that with amazing actors, by the way – very talented, all dead. We have improved a lot and we bounce off each other. Wally is a very relaxing character to play because he doesn’t worry too much. He gets to eat a lot on set, which is cool, and … yeah man.

I don’t have much to say about it because I literally just lived through those times and stuck it in my head and just remembered how great it was. But yeah, man, the other characters are incredible and I wouldn’t have gotten that distinction if it wasn’t for them. I am so grateful to have worked with such amazing actors.

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