Phill Lewis, known for his role as the excitable and commonly irritated Tipton Hotel manager Mr. Moseby on Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” visited Chapman at around 10 a.m. Oct. 3 for a tour with his daughter.
Kyler Hannah, a tour guide who was sitting in Argyros Forum when she noticed Lewis, said she didn’t recognize him at first.
“I kept looking at him and I was like, ‘Wow, he looks really familiar,’” said Hannah, a senior psychology and strategic and corporate communication major. “But it didn’t hit me until way later … I don’t think anyone knew it was him until the tour was over. He was dressed in a rain jacket and a hat, which is kind of incognito.”
Hannah said Lewis was casual while he and his daughter waited for the 90-minute tour to begin.
“I feel like when most celebrities come on campus (for a tour), they’re not making it about them,” Hannah said. “It’s very much so about the student that they’re with.”
No fans or students who recognized Lewis from his role on The Suite Life series – which spanned from 2005 to 2011 – walked up to him or interacted with him, Hannah said.
“I was here when they checked in; they were actually one of the first ones to come check in for the tour,” said Jessica Lumley, the coordinator for Chapman’s Welcome Center. “They and seemed super excited to be on campus. It was funny that none of us really thought about it or recognized him until after we found out.”
Lumley said that none of the tour guides, including sophomore Brandon Maxwell, who was Lewis and his family’s guide for the morning, knew that the TV star would be on campus beforehand.
“I don’t think it hit everyone until he was almost already gone,” Hannah said. “No one would’ve realized it was him unless they were explicitly told. Everyone was just like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a celebrity on campus.’ But it happens too often. It’s Chapman, you know?”
Lumley said that whenever celebrities come to visit campus, they are allowed to request a personalized tour.
“We get different requests all the time.” Lumley said. “(Celebrities) might want something more private or have a separate tour … it just depends on what they’re comfortable with.”
In addition to “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and its spinoff, “The Suite Life on Deck,” Lewis has also appeared on shows like “Lizzie McGuire” and “Friends.” His character has inspired several memes, some from a scene that features Moseby teaching costar Brenda Song, as the hotel heiress London Tipton, how to drive.
Maxwell told Lumley that while he was giving the tour, he finally realized who Lewis was when the tour group, which was about 25 people, discussed study abroad options for students.
“(Maxwell said) they mentioned Chapman’s Semester at Sea option and (Lewis) smiled and raised his hand just to acknowledge that he found some humor in that,” Lumley said.