How Robin Williams Blew Off Steam While Shooting Jumanji

Robin Williams in Jumanji

If you've been paying any attention to the world of TV and film, you'll notice that one trend is ruling the day: nostalgia. And with nostalgic properties proving to be extremely profitable, there's a myriad of long awaited sequels, revivals, and reboots arriving every few months. This includes The Rock's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which will bring the classic 90s movie to contemporary audiences by having the unwitting victims transported into a video game. But some new details have just become public regarding the original 1995 film, including how the late Robin Williams managed to entertain himself during the long hours on set. Namely, by doing impressions of Broadway legend Ethel Merman. Former child actor Bradley Pierce (Jumanji's Peter) told the story himself, saying:

A lot of things Robin would improv would go over Kirsten's and my heads. He would go on these Ethel Merman riffs where he would sing all his lines like her. It was hysterical, but I didn't realize he was imitating a real person.

Looks like Robin Williams was just as delightful as we would assume. Although if you were a kid, his trademark wit and cultural reference were likely to go over your head. But at least he got them later into his adulthood.

Bradley Pierce's comments to the NY Times will no doubt inspire countless Robin Williams fans to do their own strange mash up of Jumanji and Ethel Merman. Merman is one of the most famous Broadway actors of all time, and is known for her brassy and loud voice that brought life to lead characters in Gypsy and Annie Get Your Gun. Seeing Robin Williams imitate Mermen with classic lines of Jumanji dialogue sounds amazing, so now we just have to hope that some camera was rolling to capture it. Where are those damn archives?

This is just the latest in a long line of stories about how delightful Robin Williams was on the set of his acting projects. An experienced improvisor, Williams was known for being able to make just about everyone laugh, and for adding some fantastic spontaneous moments into his films and TV shows. It's this sense of humor and comedic chops that likely made his struggle with mental health such a shocker after his death in 2014. While his loved ones knew of the actor's struggle, many of his co-workers and fans were unaware that he was having such an internal struggle.

The Jumanji franchise is going to make a big return shortly, when Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle arrives next month. While Williams' character Alan obviously won't be physically present, he will reportedly be paid tribute and referenced during the film.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will arrive in theaters on December 20th, 2017-- putting it in direct competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Be sure to check out our 2018 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.