‘Jumanji’: Dwayne Johnson on Playing a 16-Year-Old Who’s Afraid of Everything

     October 12, 2017

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Last October, a group of fellow journalists and I traveled to Hawaii to visit the set of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The upcoming film finds that the board game has taken a new form, this time as a video game. When four teenagers find themselves in detention, they discover the Jumanji video game. After booting it up and choosing characters to play, the get sucked into the game and discover they’ve been transformed into their avatar bodies. Armed with new abilities and no idea how to escape, the quartet must figure out how to finish the game and get back to the real world.

During a break in filming, Dwayne Johnson came over to talk to us about the project. In addition to being as charming as you’d think he would be, he talked about why he signed on both to star and produce, getting to play a 16-year-old trapped in the body of a man with no weaknesses, paying homage to Indiana Jones, how Kevin Hart angrily eats Doritos, trying to present the world of Jumanji to a new audience and more.

Check out the full interview below.

jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle-final-posterWhat was it about this project that … Because you’re producing it, you’re starring in it …

DWAYNE JOHNSON: Well, when it came to me, it was just really the opportunity to tell a great story. Hopefully, we tell a great story. It was the opportunity to take something that was beloved, that I loved, me and my family loved when we were, years ago, by the way. So, it was that.

You know, and so, it was the opportunity to tell a beloved story to a whole new audience. And the script came around, and when the script came around, it kind of, it really moved very quickly. So, the script came around for me in April. I read it. I really, really liked the script. I was scheduled to make a movie called “Rampage” with Brad Peyton. And we had to push it, and that will be the next movie I shoot after this, I’m sorry, after “Ballers.”

So, I had a window. And as these things happen in Hollywood, I got the script, really enjoyed the script, spoke with Jake our director. We had a great meeting, and things kind of just blossomed from there.

To your point. It’s a great point you bring up, is there was an element about the script that I really liked that took the spirit of the original movie and the spirit of the original story and added this other great layer to it. In this case, as you said, the great layer is that I am decked out, as I’m decked out right now, as this avatar, but in reality, in the real world, I’m a 16-year-old kid, which was a great juxtaposition, I think, just as an actor and then look as a producer and the opportunity to tell that kind of story.

So, in essence, it would be like if you took “The Breakfast Club” and those characters and put them in the world of Jumanji.

A lot of fun, by the way. And a great challenge, right? So, the great challenge of me being who I am as this avatar, it’s Dr. Smolder Bravestone because throughout the film, I just, well, smolder. Right?

But I didn’t. I have no control of it. I just did the smolder.

And then also, the juxtaposition of being a 16-year-old kid, whose extremely uncomfortable to begin with, and not a people person and an epic nerd.

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