Taking a break from filming blockbusters, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently broke his silence to address Tyrese with a funny video eviscerating the R&B star’s music. His next movie is Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle starring Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, Jack Black and Karen Gillan.
I went out to Hawaii to visit the set of Jumanji. The movie picks up when, four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the actual game landing into a jungle setting. They literally become the adult avatars they chose. Quickly finding out that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.
While on set we got to witness an explosion so big we could feel the heat from about 30 yards away, hear the Rock and Kevin Hart adlib their way through a scene and more. The Rock posted about our visit on his Instagram and here is what we got to talk about.
What was it about this project that made you produce and star 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.
Can you talk to me about the stunts that you have to do? What surprised you in this film that you haven’t done before?
JOHNSON: Well, let’s start with the animals, right? So, I don’t know if there are stunts in this movie that I’ve never done before, but I think it’s the, it’s in how we’re executing them, and the variables that we’re placing around the stunts that would make them different. So, for example, in our world of Junkman, the animals are bigger, they’re meaner, they’re faster, so let’s start with the animals, right?
And then we also start with the fact that we’re pulling off all these stunts, again proficient and able, but as a 16-year-old kid too as well. So, there’s a really cool wish fulfillment factor that happens too. When I was 16 I would’ve loved to become, you know, whoever my favorite characters were, especially in video games.
So, there’s this really cool dynamic that I hope we pull off, and we execute properly, just where as I’m in these fight scenes … oh, thank you so much. Thank you. I sweat easy. As I’m in these fight scenes because I’m a video game, like turbo-geek with video games, right? So, as I’m in these fight scenes, there’s a little cool element where I’m actually calling out the moves before I’m doing it. Like you know how a lot of times as we’re playing it’s oh (makes fight noises) if we do it right, it should be very funny.
As we know Indiana Jones didn’t like snakes. Is there a certain animal in the jungle that Smolder Bravestone doesn’t like?
JOHNSON: Yeah. That’s a great question. And so, by the way, I mean this is, Indiana Jones, like a lot of us … one of my top movies of all time. It was literally the movie when I was eight-years-old I thought, “Wow, I want to do that.” Not necessarily I want to be an actor, but I want to be that guy. Like, that guy’s cool. That’s why there’s nods in the movie to Harrison Ford and to that movie, like I have my hat. This is such a dorky thing, but like, this, this is my nod to Harrison in “Star Wars.” So, just this and it’s kind of like slung real low. There’s like little things, little Easter eggs.
You talk about paying homage to the original, but like, not getting bogged down in it. Like, showing respect to it, but making it your own?
JOHNSON: Yeah, sure. So, that was the number one thing that I just wanted to have open dialogue with [Director] Jake [Kasdan] and [Producer] Matt Tolmach, our producers, and the studio. What is the way that we can pay homage to the original movie, not only to the original movie, but to Robin Williams in a way that felt good and that made people feel good, but yet, as you said, not get bogged down in it? So, I think we came up with some really nice ways to pay homage and yeah, I think the family is going to be very, very happy with it. Yeah.
And without giving too much away. Now, I’m biting my tongue right now.
What was it like working with Kevin the second time around? You guys seem to have a similar mindset when it comes to work, work, work, accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. So, what is like creating something, especially as something as big as this versus the last film you guys did?
JOHNSON: Yeah. I love Kevin, right? We’ve become really, really close. He’s like a brother to me, and we love fucking with each other. Excuse my language, but it’s the thing that we do. So, you know, with Kevin, Kevin is an ambitious guy. He likes to accomplish things. He’s a very busy guy. He believes in hardcore work ethic, which is great, but also, Kevin is one of the biggest stars in the world, certainly the biggest comedy star in the world.
And also, brings an element of self-deprecating humor to this movie and to movies that he’s in, which often times, over the years, I think when it … We’ve seen it in the past, where comedians rise to become a big star in Hollywood, sometimes it’s important to always be cool, and to look cool, and in Kevin’s case, I think he’s really done a great job, I think of checking that at the door. And just thinking about what’s going to make the movie funny. So, look, Kevin’s great. And also, again, the idea that we’re all 16-year-old teenagers is just a great element for us to tap into. Even Kevin. You know, Kevin starts out in the movie, he’s a massive teenager. He’s captain of the football team, he’s 6’5″, he’s a handsome guy, you know, All-American. He’s the man. And then, he turns into Kevin. Yeah.
There’s an Instagram post about angrily eating Doritos and people bursting into song on set, and I was curious who is doing that?
JOHNSON: Oh my God. It’s … I would say this is the most fun I’ve ever had on a set, especially with an ensemble group like this because the energy is really just so awesome, and everyone is really just great. And you guys know this, you’ve been in business, doing this a long time. You know, oh this actor is little touchy, or you can’t say this, you can’t say that, but this group is like so good.
So, yeah, Kevin angrily eats Doritos. You know. And the reason why he gets angry eating Doritos is because he prides himself on being a fitness fanatic, you know, right? So the moment he (makes eating sounds) and he’ll start eating, I’ll just look at him and he goes, “Go fuck yourself. Everyone go fuck themselves.” And Jack will just break out in a beautiful song, great voice, right? He’s got that like Broadway voice, and Karen, if you guys didn’t know, she’s got pipes.
So literally, Jack starts writing a song, he starts singing a song, making it up on set that’s going to be … it’s just Broadway theme of “Jumanji” that he starts singing and he includes all us characters and then Karen starts singing, and Kevin eats his Doritos, and I’m calling it now, they’re going to sing it at the MTV Movie Awards. Very entertaining.
But yeah, the group is great. I mean, this is a really, really a great group. And Jake Kasdan has a great handle on the movie too. Oh, and by the way, back to your question, that’s another thing too, well whose …. because with a movie like this … with movies, directors are everything of course, it’s the ship that they run, but some movies, like you really have to have a very specific vision, especially when it relates to something like this, that’s on this scale, and that is the intention is to make a four-quadrant movie, which is not always that easy, but especially when you have to deliver the comedy. And Jake, has that right amount of edge that the film needs, which is great.
Well we’ve heard that the avatars have like, special abilities. So can you tell us what your special ability is?
JOHNSON: Yeah! Awesome! So, and this is the scene you’re going to see today, by the way. So, our special abilities come up, and special abilities are speed, let me get this right. I got it. My skills, my strengths are fearless, I’m fearless, speed, boomerangs, climbing, smoldering intensity. This is the funniest part. My weaknesses – none. It’s awful. It’s awful.
And then, Kevin, as you’ll see, like his strengths are carrying my backpack. Literally, he’s the backpack valet, the weapons valet. And he has another strength, but his weaknesses are cake and his weakness is strength. It’s very, very funny. So, you can imagine, you know when I read the script in April, I read it and I was like, “Wow, this is, this is really come along. This is awesome.”
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle hits theaters December 20th
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