Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble, prepare to totally swoon over this Halloweentown couple.
When Kimberly J. Brown, affectionately known as Marnie Piper to legions of people who grew up in the '90s, confirmed she was dating Daniel Kountz—a.k.a. Kal, her nemesis in Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge—in an adorable Instagram post in October 2018, the Internet had a nostalgia-fueled meltdown. It was a storyline meant for a Hallmark Channel movie and fans couldn't get enough of the feuding on-screen co-stars becoming a real-life item that films TikToks and wears matching Halloween costumes.
"It's been pretty fun getting to watch the fans' reactions to it over the years," Brown exclusively told E! News in their first joint interview as a couple. "It cracks us up."
But Brown had no idea just how potent the spell she was casting would be when she posted that photo of her kissing Kountz.
"I thought some people would notice but it ended up going viral," she explained. "The comments were great. People were worried about Aggie's spellbook still were like, 'How can you date the enemy?!' and then other people were like, 'I shipped Marnie and Kal since the movie came out!'" ("Karnie" hive, show yourselves!)
Now, 20 years after co-starring in Halloweentown II, the couple still cause a frenzy on social media whenever they post a photo or video together. But Brown and Kountz were just as surprised as their fans were by the sparks they felt when they first reconnected in 2016 after she approached him about appearing in a sketch for her YouTube channel.
Though Kountz had attended Brown's 20th birthday party and they had kept tabs on each other through social media, meeting up in person for the first time in over a decade to grab dinner proved to be a catch-up that would change their lives.
"I know it took me by surprise," Kountz admitted. "I hadn't seen her in years and I'm waiting I'm sitting at the bar waiting and she comes walking in and I was like, 'Well hello there it's been a while, hi!' So it was pretty much just right away I was like, damn girl."
Like we said, it's a meet-cute re-do worthy of a Hallmark movie.
The first time the pair met was at rehearsals for Halloweentown II in Vancouver. Brown was 17 and Kountz was 22 and had a girlfriend, so there were no romantic sparks, though the co-stars got along well.
Kountz's first impression of Brown was that "she was super nice and professional and very welcoming. She's a nice girl. So it wasn't hard to like her."
Brown echoed his assessment, saying, "I just remember thinking he was just the nicest guy. And talented too, of course, but he was very nice, which is more important."
Fifteen years later at that fateful dinner, Kountz was "still the funny, kind, sweet guy" Brown remembered.
But Kountz was a little more surprised during their second first meeting, admitting, "When I first saw her when she walked in after we hadn't seen each other forever, there was a definite shift and 'Oh, you've grown up. Like, oh okay, you're wearing heels, wow, look at that. You're like a pretty lady.'"
Both Kountz and Brown felt an immediate "familiarity" yet also excitement "over being able to reconnect and kind of reintroduce ourselves to each other in a way," she explained. "It's like, I know you but I don't know you know you, so let's talk about life and stuff. Let's figure each other out.'"
While their transition from friends to couple was "gradual" as they continued "getting even closer and closer" after filming the sketch, Brown admitted, "We both knew what was happening at the same time."
For many, seeing Brown and Kountz reconnect and form a romantic relationship may have felt similar to finding out during a late-night Facebook deep-dive that seeing two former high school classmates are married and having a baby. It's weird at first, but then it makes total sense, which is similar to how their Halloweentown co-stars reacted to the news.
"I remember telling J. Paul [Zimmerman, who played Marnie's brother Dylan] at something and he was just like, 'Wait, what?!'" Brown recalled. "It was really fun telling them to like get a kick out of it. It was almost like telling like a family member and it was extra fun because they know him in a different way and had worked with him."
While it was already a seminal experience for both Brown and Kountz, their unexpected relationship has added even more significance to Halloweentown's impact on their lives.
"If it wasn't for the movie we never would have met each other and reconnected later and we wouldn't be sitting here now and she's a pretty awesome lady," Kountz said. "It just ended up working out really well, but it is funny to think, wow, that was 20 years ago and so much life happened in between us reconnecting and everything."
For Brown, who said she never gets tired of talking about or being associated with Halloweentown (and has the TikTok and Etsy shop to prove it), "The movies have definitely meant a lot to me just growing up and now that they mean a lot to other people it makes it so much more significant. But now there's this aspect of our personal lives too that has bonded us in a different way. It definitely has just made it that much more special and just the irony, too, of us playing hardcore enemies and then being quite the opposite of that in real life."
After the two managed to spend all of quarantine together without reverting back to their onscreen rivalry—"I'm very happy that we still like each other through this pandemic," Kountz joked—they're ready to start traveling the world and wouldn't be opposed to working together again in a project aside from Brown's fun TikToks. Perhaps a fifth Halloweentown movie?
"I'm a realtor now and I'll post something for like real estate stuff and then in the comments [fans] will be like, 'When are you guys doing another Halloweentown?'" Kountz said, "Or 'How you're trying to turn a gray spell on the house?'"
Brown, who was replaced in the fourth and final installment of the franchise—with Sara Paxton playing Marnie in 2006's Return to Halloweentown, much to fans' chagrin—is more than down to reprise her iconic role.
"I think there's a ton of possibilities if they ever decided to go down that road again," she said. "Marnie could be doing something in Halloweentown, either training the next generation or running for mayor. Marnie always liked to push the town and push people forward and come up with new ideas. I always loved that about her. She was so adventurous and courageous."
As for Kal, Kountz predicted his character would "definitely want to come back and get his revenge because there's so many fans have pointed out over the years it was kind of open-ended the way he flew off in a bout of baddie rage."
Still, the couple would be OK with a rom-com twist on their characters, with Kountz pitching, "Kal reformed, came back and apologized. He's still got that bad streak in him, but it's not as bad as it was back then."
While their onscreen characters' relationship status is TBD, some fans have been wondering if and when Brown and Kountz will get married, officially cementing their status as spooky season spouses. But is the heat on to have a Halloweentown-themed wedding?
"No pressure at all," Kountz joked. "We're gonna fly in on brooms, we're gonna do the whole shebang."
Brown added, "I'm sure the fans would love that. I mean, I don't know, that idea has never come up in our discussions about life. But I'm sure that would be art imitating life or life imitating art? One of the two."
Hey, that's something they know a thing or two about.
Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge is streaming on Disney+.