Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart’s ‘Jumanji’ Maintains ‘Soul’ of Robin Williams Original

The always-smiling Dwayne Johnson said he felt a bit stressed at Monday night’s premiere for Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

“I wasn’t nervous when we started shooting last year, but I’m a little nervous now that we’re going to open in a week,” he admitted.

Sony opens the action-comedy sequel on Dec. 20. The red carpet featured comedy banter between the 6-foot-5 Johnson and his 5-foot-4 co-star, Kevin Hart.

“It’s basically me putting him on my back,” Hart quipped. “I’m the star. Actually, I wouldn’t work with anybody else.”

Johnson shot back, “And I would want to work with anyone else.”

Nick Jonas, who received a Golden Globe nomination earlier in the day for his song “Home” from the movie “Ferdinand,” said he was starstruck. In his first major movie role, he plays Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough — the avatar of the mysterious teenager Alex Vreeke.

“I was blown away when I read the script,” he mused. “To be part of a cast like this is a really exciting, kind of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to step out and do something different.”

Alex Wolff said he’s particularly pleased to be known as the nerdy gamer who transforms into Johnson’s character in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” after playing the villain in “Patriots Day.”

“Now I’m the guy who becomes The Rock,” he said. “I love this movie. It will make you feel really good at a time of uncertainty.”

Jack Black, who plays a female high schooler that transforms into an avatar of an archaeologist, said part of the preparation for the role came from his own life. “When I was 16, I spent a lot of time studying 16-year-old women,” he added.

Director Jake Kasdan said he was very much aware of the 1995 original, starring Robin Williams. “We wanted to continue what they had started, but not re-do what they had already done while keeping a soul to it,” he explained.

Matt Tolmach, who produced with William Teitler, said shooting in the Hawaiian jungle presented challenges, noting, “Nobody has any sympathy for me, but the jungle in Hawaii is full of centipedes that sting.”

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