If you were to make a biopic about actor and would-be Wolverine Danny DeVito, you probably wouldn’t cast Dwayne Johnson. That’s part of what makes Jumanji: The Next Level such a fun concept. In the upcoming Sony sequel, Danny Devito’s Eddie gets sucked into the Jumanji game, where he is given the Smolder Bravestone avatar, played by The Rock. Jumanji newcomer Danny Devito revealed what he likes about The Rock’s impression of him, saying:
I think both of our avatars did really well, Dwayne and Kevin, so I was very happy to see that Dwayne like dove right into Jersey, you know? That was really great.
Danny DeVito approves of both his avatar in Jumanji: The Next Level and that of co-star and fellow Jumanji newcomer Danny Glover, who gets the Franklin “Mouse” Finbar character played by Kevin Hart. Danny DeVito is a big fan of The Rock’s impression of him in particular because of the fact that Dwayne Johnson really went for it and didn’t hold back with his performance.
As Danny DeVito told ABC 1’s Extra Butter, The Rock dove right into Jersey. Of course, the New Jersey-born actor is referencing how Dwayne Johnson affects a New Jersey accent to really sound like him, as if DeVito’s Grandpa Eddie were really sucked into the game in the body of Smolder Bravestone. If you’re going to do an impression of Danny DeVito, you have to talk like him, and The Rock does just that.
It’s pretty jarring when you hear it in the first trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level, and that’s part of what makes it so funny. It’s over-the-top, but fits given DeVito’s highly recognizable voice and the nature of the story in Jumanji. If we were just told that Danny DeVito’s character was in the avatar of Smolder Bravestone, it wouldn’t really matter or work if The Rock just acted like The Rock.
He has to seem like a person inhabiting another person’s body through his mannerisms, voice and performance. We saw that with Alex Wolff’s Spencer, who used the Bravestone avatar in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. That film saw The Rock playing meek inside a brave man’s body and this film will see him playing a short guy from Jersey inside a large Samoan body.
In addition to Danny DeVito’s Eddie, Jumanji: The Next Level will see Danny Glover’s Milo using the avatar of Kevin Hart's Franklin Finbar. Speaking about what it’s like to see another actor doing an impression of you, Danny Glover said:
Well, I think you have this interpretation of yourself and then you see someone bring about the way in which they see you, it’s really interesting. But you know, I have been fortunate as well as Danny [DeVito] has been fortunate; we’ve had these iconic moments where people always remember us by those moments. No matter how old we get.
Danny Glover found it interesting to watch Kevin Hart play Danny Glover inside of Kevin Hart because it gives him an outside perspective on himself. The same goes for Danny DeVito. We all have an idea of how we come off to others, but these impressions and this movie are interesting ways of having that idea reflected back to you through the lens of other people.
What makes that different for someone like Danny Glover or Danny DeVito is that these are famous actors with large bodies of work. So there is already a wealth of material on which to base an impression based on their iconic cinematic moments. That’s kind of why you need Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson to really lean into their impressions.
They’re impersonating famous, established actors, not the relative newcomers they were the avatars for in the first film. So The Rock and Kevin Hart have to really bring out their inner Danny DeVito and Danny Glover.
You can see these impressions when Jumanji: The Next Level opens in theaters on December 13. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what movies you can look forward to next year.