Robin Williams Stood Up For ‘Tired’ Child Stars On Jumanji
Robin Williams defended the child stars of Jumanji from over-demanding producers.
The original 1995 film, starring Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce, is a common favourite of the beloved comic’s filmography.
Across his movies, the late actor worked with a great number of children, whether it was in Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jack or Patch Adams. There’s often a lot of pressure on a film set, but Williams didn’t let the kids bear the brunt of producers’ demands.
For Jumanji’s 25th anniversary, Pierce, who’s now 38, spoke to CBCListen about the film. He played Peter Shepherd, one of two siblings who release Alan Parrish (Williams) from the titular board game after he was sucked in as a young boy, along with some destructive wild animals.
Pierce recalled his experience working with Williams on the movie, particularly as they tried to film the sequence involving a monsoon. At this moment in the film, his character is transformed into a monkey – however, he struggled with water getting into his extensive make-up. It took a total of eight days to film, which took a physical toll on the young actors.
He said, ‘I couldn’t breathe through my nose,’ adding that it was ‘really draining for everybody’. By the end, both him and Dunst were left feeling ‘tired’.
Nevertheless, producers wanted the kids to work over their set time. Unlike adults, this isn’t actually legally allowed for children.
Children can only be on set for a number of hours. The producers had approached our parents and said, ‘Is there any way we can do a bit of overtime to get it done?’ That’s not uncommon at all in the industry because it literally saves $100,000 (£73,000) plus to do that extra half hour rather than a whole day.
However, it wasn’t long until Williams ‘caught wind of these conversations’. Soon after, he pulled director Joe Johnston and the other producers aside to set the record straight and tell them it wasn’t happening.
Williams told the crew, ‘No, we are not doing any extra time. You’re going to let everybody out now and we’re going to come back next week.’
Praising the actor for defending him and Dunst, Pierce said, ‘For all the dollars that would have cost, nobody would have stood up the way he did. In addition to being warm, generous and kind, he was also very protective.’
The original Jumanji is available to stream on Netflix now.
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