Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle hits theaters on Dec. 20, and it’s one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Madison Iseman, Alex Wolff, and Ser’Darius Blain. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is being released just over 20 years after the original film, which starred the late Robin Williams. Jumanji is one of those movies everyone watches when they’re kids, and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle hopes to have the same impact.
HollywoodLife.com got the chance to talk EXCLUSIVELY with Madison about her exciting role in the movie. As we all are aware from the trailers, Madison’s character, Bethany, is one of the teens sucked into Jumanji. Inside the game, her character becomes the avatar she chose when she thought she was just playing the video game. Bethany’s avatar is Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon, played by Jack. From the actor swap to the Robin Williams tribute to Nick’s super secretive character, check out our Q&A with Madison below!
Tell us a little bit about your character, Bethany.
Madison Iseman: She’s your typical self-obsessed, phone-obsessed teenage girl and probably not someone you’d really want to be friends with, but throughout the whole movie, she goes through this journey and discovers who she actually is within herself and a confidence she never really had before. I think a lot of people can relate to her in that aspect. She’s definitely an exaggerated version of what you typically see.
Bethany ends up being played by Jack Black inside Jumanji. What was your reaction to that twist?
Madison Iseman: Initially, when we auditioned, it was very confusing. We actually auditioned with some scenes that Jack would be playing in the game. Through the whole process, I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. Were we going to be voicing them? But it’s awesome, I think. I’ve been watching Jack Black since I was so young. I’ve always been a fan. We had a lot of time to sit down and go over the character and do a lot of work, which I wasn’t expecting. That was really, really cool.
Jumanji is such an iconic film. What were thinking when you got cast in Welcome To The Jungle over 20 years later?
Madison Iseman: It took a while for it to hit. Right now is probably when it hit for me. It was a quick audition process. I only went in about two times. There was a second where I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. We had some conflicts with a show that I was on at the time, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then everything got figured out, and I was able to do it. They flew us out to Hawaii. Probably the second it really hit me was when I was at the table read, and I got sat between Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson. It was just really surreal at that moment. I watched the movie when I was growing up, but I definitely had to go back and watch after the initial audition. For some reason, I didn’t let it sink in until I actually had it. You never know when you’re going to lose it, you know? People get recast, etc.
Will this movie have throwbacks to the first film?
Madison Iseman: Yes. There’s a really, really nice tribute to Alan Parrish [played by Robin Williams].
He was such pivotal part of the first Jumanji. How important was it to you and the cast to make sure he was honored in some way?
Madison Iseman: It was a huge part of it. What we still continue to get is that people ask how this is a reboot, and we keep constantly saying it’s not a reboot. We’re not trying to recreate it. We’re trying extend what was so great 20 years ago to a new generation of kids. I think it does a really good tribute to the original film. They keep the origin of everything, but instead of the game coming out to the real world, we go into the game of Jumanji. It’s a really cool twist on it. I think people will like it a lot.
What might Bethany learn from her experience inside the game?
Madison Iseman: I think more than anything she learns the importance of other people and not so much herself. I think she has this insecurity that the only thing she’s good for is boys and looking pretty, so she learns that she has an extra layer underneath all that where she’s a smart, independent woman.
What can you say about Nick Jonas’s character?
Madison Iseman: There’s not too much I can say. He’s kind of the big secret. He does have a very, very important part. He’s so good at it, too.
Does the Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle leave it open for more?
Absolutely. I think so. You watch the old one and you think the game is gone. No matter what happens to the game, is it ever really gone?
Would you survive inside the game?
Absolutely not. I would find myself a little hole and hide in it.
HollywoodLifers, are you going to go see Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle? Let us know!