Jumanji: The Next Level arrives in theaters this weekend and the sequel puts the fate of Jumanji once again in the players’ hands for an all-new and different adventure. But it’s not only the game that’s changed, it’s also the players. In an exclusive interview with CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell at the Jumanji: The Next Level junket, Karen Gillan and Jack Black spoke about how their Jumanji characters have changed from the first movie to now. Check it out:
Part of what’s interesting about the concept of Jumanji is that while the video game avatars remain largely the same, minus some skill upgrades and new outfits, they are ultimately a reflection of the people inhabiting them. Those people have changed between Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, and that impacts the way that the actors playing their avatars portray them.
That’s what Karen Gillan and Jack Black talked about with Sean. For Karen Gillan, who plays Martha through the avatar Ruby Roundhouse, her character has undergone some real changes since Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The Martha we meet in Jumanji: The Next Level is no longer just the shy, smart girl. According to Karen Gillan, she has found her inner confidence.
While the Jumanji game in the first movie helped Martha to come into her own and perhaps spurred that transformation, she has continued to change, and we will see that in Jumanji: The Next Level. It’s like Martha took the experience of the first game and leveled up some more outside the game. and now she’s back to play again and her inner confidence will better fit the avatar Ruby Roundhouse, killer of men.
Part of that character evolution is the result of the Jumanji game. As Jack Black explained, the game has a way of giving life lessons to people who need them and putting them through complete hell and mortal peril so that they come out the other side better understanding who they are and how to tackle their lives in the real world.
The possibly-retiring-soon Jack Black alluded to a specific scene featuring Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan where they are in the game, but they are having a very real, non-game conversation. The blending of those two worlds in the heightened environment of Jumanji is a catalyst for growth.
Throwing a wrench in the whole thing, besides their challenging mission, is the fact that in Jumanji: The Next Level, the players don’t get to choose their avatars. They also have a couple tag-alongs with Danny DeVito and Danny Glover’s characters, resulting in different characters residing in different bodies.
So although The Next Level still sees the characters in an adventure game, they are different people in a way and their dynamics have also changed for the second go-around.