The New York Times recently interviewed the cast of 1995’s Jumanji for the sake of piecing together an oral history of the movie. It’s a good read, particularly because the movie, about a man who spent his childhood stuck in a magical board game, the film is a completely weird and fantastic movie. And, as the piece shows, the movie became so because of Williams’ particular brand of contagious child-like wonder.
The oral history provides an interesting insight into a classic movie that most of us grew up with but the best parts of the oral history naturally come when anyone is talking about Robin Williams. Bradley Pierce, who played Peter, one of the orphaned siblings who ends up in the haunted game, admitted that “A lot of things Robin would improv would go over Kirsten’s and my heads,” but that “It was hysterical, but I didn’t realize he was imitating a real person.”
Pierce also spoke about getting to see the softer, human side of Robin when his son came to set.”They would invite me to join them at the zoo or the aquarium or a movie. It was great to see him as a dad and a friend rather than just a comedian. It was amazing to get to know the man behind the characters.”
Adam Hann-Byrd, who played the child version of Williams’ character in the movie, had a similarly warm recollection of the late comedian, saying, “Robin was such a gentle soul. He had this larger-than-life manic persona, but he could turn that off when he wanted to.”
It’s not surprising to hear Williams’ former co-stars speak so highly of him. The man certainly had his demons, but he was as well respected as anyone in the industry. It’s nice to hear that he was admired and respected just as much when he wasn’t in front of a camera or on a stage. Sometimes, he was just a dad who wanted to take his son to the zoo.