1995’s Jumanji is widely regarded as a classic family adventure movie. On its original release, it was one of the highest-grossing films of the year and went on to spawn a cartoon show, a semi-sequel in Zathura: A Space Adventure and the recent Welcome to the Jungle and The Next Level. And ever since the tragic death of star Robin Williams in 2014, its stature has risen even more, with those that grew up with the pic introducing both it and the actor to their own children.
Bradley Pierce, who played the young Peter Shepherd in the film, recently spoke to People Magazine about his time working on the project and revealed a very touching moment where Williams looked out for the child stars in the cast. It came during the climactic monsoon sequence, which necessitated working in a gigantic water tank.
Eight hours into the shoot, the producers began to discuss going into overtime and Williams wasn’t happy, as Pierce explained:
“Robin caught wind of these conversations happening and apparently he pulled the director and producers aside and said, ‘No we’re not doing any extra time. You’re gonna let everyone out of the pool now and we’re going to be [sic] come back next week. For all the dollars that would have cost, nobody else could have stood up the way he did. In addition to being warm and generous and kind, he was also very protective of all of us. He told everyone, ‘we’re done today, time to go home.'”
It’s a nice story, though with the dark undertone that it takes someone of Robin Williams’ star clout to prevent a major Hollywood production from overworking children in a potentially dangerous shooting environment. Situations like these are why there are strict rules as to how long you can work with child actors, though obviously those are often bent or broken when millions of dollars are on the line.
And as for the future of Jumanji? Well, plans for another movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Kevin Hart are apparently underway and Johnson teased that it’ll reveal who was controlling the villain of The Next Level. Hart’s recovery from his 2019 auto accident and COVID-19-related delays have likely affected the schedule, but let’s hope we get some more news on it sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, if you want to revisit the 1995 Jumanji on its 25th anniversary, there’s an excellent restored and remastered version on 4K UHD Blu-ray and it’s also available digitally, so be sure to check it out.