In today’s modern blockbuster-driven Hollywood, visual effects-laden films are ubiquitous, and that means that shooting in front of green screens has become a standard part of the filmmaking business. In recent years, we’ve heard from many actors about the different kinds of challenges this presents when you have to act without a real environment. But for Jumanji: The Next Level’s Kevin Hart, green screen scenes are actually the coolest to film, as he explained:
I think the most exciting thing about coming back was knowing we’d be in this world we created. What we can do is so special from an action, adventure, comedy perspective. So, for me it was just playing on that green screen. Because I think those are the most interesting days. Nothing is there. You’re literally with your director who has all of this in his head. You’ve read the script but when it comes to really painting the picture, Jake is, ‘They’re coming, gah! They jump! There’s stuff coming out!’ We’re just standing on a bridge, but for me that’s the most exciting stuff.
The big reason that Kevin Hart was stoked to return for the sequel to 2017’s surprise smash hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that he wanted to be immersed in the world of the film once more. In his mind, the world of Jumanji allows for a wide degree of latitude in terms of creativity when crafting the film’s action, adventure and comedy. The purest form of that is when he worked in front of the green screen.
As Kevin Hart explained during the Jumanji: The Next Level Cast Q&A, he was most excited to work in front of the green screen in the sequel. In the actor’s mind, the green screen scenes are actually the coolest and most interesting to film, specifically because there is nothing there; no jungle, no horde of vicious mandrills, nothing. While other actors have cited this trait of green screen acting as a challenge, to Kevin Hart, the nothing is what makes it interesting.
Kevin Hart talked about “playing on that green screen,” and you can tell that to him, rather than being an impediment, a green screen is a blank canvas that he can and does have a lot of fun with. That’s why they’re the coolest scenes to film. The actor recalled how in Jumanji: The Next Level, the cast simply had to rely on director Jake Kasdan to help them through the green screen scenes.
The stars of Jumanji: The Next Level had read the script, so they knew the broad strokes of what was supposed to happen in the scene, but they still needed direction. Jake Kasdan had the whole thing in his head, so he was able to paint a picture for them in the green screen scenes, enabling his cast to react and play off of things that weren’t really there. It sounds somewhat silly, but also like it could make for a really fun experience.
The way Kevin Hart describes it, that playfulness makes acting in a green screen scene sound a lot like being a kid and using your imagination as you walk yourself and your friends through a make believe adventure. You may not actually be a group of knights or cowboys or princesses in a far off land, but if you know how to pretend, you can still be completely immersed in something that isn’t there.
I do wonder if part of the reason that Kevin Hart is such a fan of working with the green screen is because of his background in standup comedy. While telling a story onstage, he would often have to paint a picture for audiences without the benefit of a set, props or even other actors. He had to be playful and use his imagination, and so would the audience. Filming a blockbuster in front of a green screen isn’t exactly the same thing, but there are some parallels there.
Jumanji: The Next Level is now in theaters. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all the new movies coming out this year.