Robin Williams was known as one of the greatest improvisers in Hollywood, frequently churning out hours of unused lines during recording sessions for his voiceover appearances and ensuring that film and TV shoots were a simultaneous joy and a nightmare for directors. However, when working on Jumanji, Williams had to keep his exuberant comedy persona in check. Since the role of the adult Alan Parrish did not require a lot of funny lines, he had a particular way of making sure he released his comic energy at the end of the day.
As revealed in the New York Times by Jonathan Hyde, the actor who starred as Samuel Parrish and Van Pelt in the original Jumanji, Williams would manage to keep mostly to the script during shooting of the film before heading off on a night to relieve himself of all the jokes that had built up. Hyde said:
“Every Monday night, Robin went to a comedy club in Vancouver and did an hour and a half of improv with the locals, then another hour and a half of solo stand-up — three hours of burning off excess steam. He was glorious.”
Bonnie Hunt, who also appeared in the movie as the adult version of one of the original players of the Jumanji game, added that although he followed the script during shooting, in between takes, Williams would still have fun with the rest of the cast.
“In between setups, we would drop our ‘Jumanji’ roles and improvise, just to get it out of our system. Characters would spring to life based on the daily headlines or waiters from dinner the night before, and the crew was a wonderful audience. It was pure joy.”
Jumanji Has a Massively Successful Revival With Dwayne Johnson
Although it is pretty much a universal opinion that Robin Williams is irreplaceable, the Jumanji franchise has been reinvigorated with the reboot that began with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in 2017. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black, the movie returned to the world of Jumanji by flipping the board and setting the movie inside the game rather than having the creatures of the game come into the real world.
After proving a commercial success, we were returned to the jungle again in 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level, and now fans are eagerly awaiting the next installment, although its arrival seems to rely on the stars being able to come together again for filming. Recently Karen Gillan revealed that she doesn’t know where the new sequel currently is but that it will be happening. She said:
“I don’t know. I think we are going to make another film, but the question is when. That’s what nobody knows yet.”
It is not surprising that a fourth Jumanji movie is up in the air considering its stars are very much tied up in other projects, with Johnson’s roster of upcoming movies, in particular, being full for the next year at least. However, whenever a new Jumanji film does happen, it will no doubt continue the box office run of the series. However, it will never be forgotten that it was the magic of Robin Williams that started it all just under 30 years ago.