‘Good times all around’: Nick Jonas talks filming ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’

Robert Marquardt/Sony Pictures/Courtesy

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His days of “Burnin’ Up” and Disney’s “Camp Rock” may have passed, but Nick Jonas has not left the public eye. Over the past few years, the singer and actor has continued to produce an eclectic collection of fresh content, much to the excitement of his substantial fan base. Recently, Jonas has even broken into the world of blockbuster movies, appearing as the gallant, margarita-making pilot Alex in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

The film, a sequel to the original 1995 “Jumanji,” follows four teenagers whose encounter with an old video game sucks them into the virtual world of the game itself, operating from within the bodies of their chosen avatars.

The film features stars including Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black, allowing Jonas the opportunity to act alongside some of contemporary Hollywood’s biggest names.

From the start, Jonas noted a key difference between his experience in the world of music and that of acting — the social element.

“The fun of making an album is that you get to tell your own stories, go on your journey creatively and I think it’s really individual to you,” the actor mused in a roundtable interview with The Daily Californian. “With a film, you’re telling somebody else’s story and working with a group. That’s really a team effort. All hands on deck are required to make it happen.”

In fact, the collaborative nature of the process yielded some of Jonas’ fondest memories from the shoot. He spoke of his time with fellow actor Jack Black with particular affection — “We would jump around on the weekends to different spots to go eat food and hang out. And he’s just the best, one of my favorite guys, and really someone I hope I get the chance to work with again.”Jonas went so far as to label the relationship a true “bromance,” and the pair graced fans with an original theme song for the movie.

At the same time, despite the intrinsically collaborative elements of acting, Jonas pointed out the influence of his personal life in his approach to embodying Alex.

In fact, Jonas refers to the deeply personal nature of music as a significant point of departure in the process of merging his own life with his character on screen. “I think it’s the best way, from the songwriting side, for me to connect the dots creatively, and it really does kind of apply on the acting side of things as well,” he stated.

While his own life has informed his role in the film, Jonas also cited the film’s role in spurring him to reflect upon himself. “In my own life, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my strengths and weaknesses would be if I had to categorize it like a video game,” stated the actor. “And I think I would say that my strength would be that I’m very present, I’m very focused. My weakness would be that I get in my own head sometimes and kind of overthink things and I think I could just learn to chill out a little bit.”

Robert Marquardt/Sony Pictures/Courtesy

One gets the sense that moviegoers — concerned that this sequel may taint the original “Jumanji,” which starred the deceased and much-beloved Robin Williams — could also chill out. Jonas, however, offered assurance of continuing the legacy of “Jumanji” as opposed to overriding it in any way. The actor cited “Jumanji” as formative in his approach to his character.

“Everyone has a connection to it and to Robin Williams and his legacy, his brilliance. I think that’s why we really approached this with a lot of care and with a real focus on having the moment or moments to acknowledge that, but also finding a way of giving the audience something really fresh.”

Regardless of the film’s reception, however, Jonas highlighted the importance of his own development as an artist over the course of the shoot above all else. “I try not to stress about perception, you know?” stated the actor, suggesting a notable maturity despite his youth, at 25 years old. “I think for me it’s just about taking strides to grow. That’s what drives the conversation.”

All things considered, Jonas looked back on his experience as part of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” fondly: “It was a fun time, a great experience.” He grinned, adding with a chuckle, “I’ll just remember for next time to bring some more bug spray.”

Contact Ryan Tuozzolo at [email protected].