Jumanji is one of the greatest films of the 1990s. Filled with action, adventure, and a little bit of romance, the family film is also memorable as one of the late Robin Williams’ greatest roles. The film also starred a young Kirsten Dunst, with Bradley Pierce playing her little brother. Rounding out the main cast was actress Bonnie Hunt. While Williams, Dunst, and Hunt went on to star in other big budget films, Pierce has flown a bit more under the radar.
The child star was quite active in Hollywood throughout the 1990s, but, in recent years, he seems to have fallen out of the spotlight. While his name may not make a lot of headlines, Pierce is still a bona fide star, and has grown up quite a lot since his child star days. Far from being a little boy, Pierce is all grown up with kids of his own. Here’s what he’s been up to since his Jumanji days.
Jumanji was one of his most memorable experiences
When you’re part of such a beloved classic, it’s bound to leave its mark on you for life. Bradley Pierce still looks back on his time on the set of Jumanji fondly. Filming lasted almost six months which is a long time, especially when you’re a kid. Pierce was only 12 years old when he was cast in the now-classic film. He knew — even then — that the movie was going to go down in history as one of the greats. "I figured out really quickly that it was going to leave a really big mark, partly because Robin Williams and Joe Johnston were involved," he told British newspaper i.
These days, Pierce remembers filming Jumanji as one of the highlights of his career. "Jumanji was amazing," he told CherryLosAngeles. "It was one of my most memorable experiences of my life. Robin Williams was great. The entire crew was amazing. Joe Johnston, our director, one of the most talented people I’ve worked with. Lot of fun."
Applying the monkey makeup was a painstaking process
For a good portion of the movie, Pierce’s character, Peter, is partially transformed by the game into a monkey. The makeup required for the transformation took hours to apply, and young Pierce had to sit through the process every day for weeks. "The monkey make up was originally going to be 40 days approximately," he told i. "It ended up being almost 70 and that was partially because the application process took nearly three and a half hours — and then another hour to remove."
The process wasn’t just long, but it was uncomfortable as well. "I couldn’t eat once the make up was on because it would destroy the make up around the mouth, so I was eating protein shakes through straws," said Pierce.
Fortunately, Pierce had the support of the cast and crew, who helped him through the grueling process. "They set up a TV that I could watch in the mirror," he said. "Ironically, we watched the entire Planet of the Apes series…"
Robin Williams left a lasting impact on him
Robin Williams also helped Pierce through the makeup application process. Like Pierce, the late Williams knew what it was like to have to endure hours of make up application. The Hollywood legend kept the young Pierce company as he was having his monkey makeup put on. Pierce didn’t know it then, but the advice Williams gave him would have a lasting impact on him.
"Robin would come in and he would sit in the make up trailer and keep me company," he told i. "He had gone through all of the various stages of prosthetic make up for Mrs. Doubtfire not long beforehand, so being familiar with the challenges he was able to talk me through meditations, ways to calm yourself."
Pierce added, "He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Not necessarily with money or things, but with his time, his energy, his wisdom. He was willing to mentor myself and Kirsten." Pierce noted, "Most of the advice I got from him was related to being patient — being willing to wait, but working that whole time. He also said finding your own individuality and value was important."
He took a break from acting to "be normal"
No acting credits appear on Pierce’s resume between the years 2000 and 2002. The actor, who was in his late teens at the time, decided he wanted to step away from the industry. "I decided to take a break from acting to try and be normal for a little while," he told i.
Fortunately, the break didn’t last too long. "When I was 19 I decided I really wanted to get back into it," he said. "Stepping away was good for me, but I wanted back in."
Getting back into the swing of things wasn’t as easy as Pierce had hoped it would be. No longer a beloved child star, casting directors weren’t too keen on giving the 19 year old major roles. "There was some serious self-esteem and identity issues that came to the surface there," said Pierce of his struggle to make a comeback. The advice Pierce received from Williams became more important than ever during this difficult time. Thanks to his old co-star, he was able to stay patient and he slowly built up his career again.
Growing up famous was hard
When you grow up on camera, it can be difficult to balance fame with being a kid. This was a challenge that Pierce had to face throughout his childhood and adolescence, especially when it came to figuring out who his real friends were and who just wanted to be near him because of his celebrity status.
While Pierce said that growing up as a well-known star was "awesome," it wasn’t perfect. "I mean, yeah, it came with some issues because a lot of it was, I didn’t know who was really my friend and who was just kind of trying to weasel in to be like close to the famous guy or whatever," he told thepaparazzigamer. "And also, especially Hollywood, a lot of people are trying to be actors. So there’s that influence there, which is kind of a problem sometimes."
His voice might be more familiar than his face
Pierce looks a lot different than he did in his child star days. While even the biggest Jumanji fans might not recognize his face today, there is a pretty good chance that they will recognize his voice. Pierce has voiced a lot of characters throughout his career, starting with Timeless Tales From Hallmark in 1990. Some of his better known credits include voice acting work on Sonic the Hedgehog, The Wild Thornberrys, and The Lego Movie Videogame.
His biggest voice acting role, though, remains Beauty and The Beast. Pierce auditioned for the voice of Chip in the film when he was just 8 years old, and landed the part. At first, Pierce was only supposed to have one line: "Mamma! There’s a girl in the castle." As the film progressed, however, his part grew bigger and bigger, and Chip turned into one of the most memorable characters of the film.
He struggled with depression
Much like Robin Williams, whose struggle with depression led to suicide in 2014, Pierce has also battled the illness. "He was absolutely an inspiration to me, just like he was to everybody else who knew him, and even so many people that didn’t," he told TMZ about Williams’ death. "Amazing guy. He’ll definitely be missed."
Pierce added that it was Williams’ death that inspired him to finally open up to the public about his own depression diagnosis, which he had kept mostly to himself and a few close friends and relatives for years. "I was diagnosed with depression when I was about 16, which was a few years after I filmed Jumanji," he said. "I’ve been secretly fighting it for a long time. … I really played it close to the vest, until Robin died actually, and then I decided, you know what, I’m gonna try to use his death and the tragedy that it was to open up to people and put it out there. And so I did."
He had doubts about the Jumanji reboot
When the reboot of Jumanji was announced, Bradley Pierce was not sold on the idea. "A sequel, I would have loved that," he told TMZ. "I could totally get behind a sequel. Great plan. Kirsten Dunst and I find the game now, as adults, right? We’ve got our own family, play the game. Could have been awesome."
The idea of a reboot, however, struck him as "a little bit greedy" and "maybe a little bit insensitive."
Pierce wasn’t involved in the reboot at all, though he felt that it would have been fun to have a cameo in it. "I think they were trying to keep it very isolated," he told TooFab. "No one ever reached out to me for any kind of cameo or appearance work. There’s definitely ways they could have made it work. Again, in the bazaar scene, you fill it with avatars. I feel like Jumanji would have grabbed the avatars from people who played the game before, so it would have been interesting to have Kirsten and I at the bazaar running a shop or something, it would have been a lot of fun."
But he ended up liking the new Jumanji movie
He might not have been on board with the idea of a Jumanji reboot when it was first announced, but Pierce changed his mind after seeing the film. "I really enjoyed myself at the premiere, had a good time and I thought that movie was really entertaining," he told TooFab. "It had some really wonderful moments and comedy and action that really worked. I enjoyed the performances and it was overall a really fun experience."
Pierce might have had fun at the film, but he didn’t think that it quite measured up to the original. We can hardly blame him because Jumanji is, after all, a classic. "I do think it’s missing a little bit of the heart that the original had," he said. "I think it’s missing a little bit of that morality story that the original had. But it was a fun, family adventure movie."
He loved the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast
While Bradley Pierce had some mixed feelings about the remake of Jumanji, he loved the remake of the other iconic 1990s film he starred in, Beauty and the Beast. As soon as he heard about the live action remake, he recognized its potential. "Emma Watson cast as Belle, I was very excited about it, thought she would do great with the character and she did," he told TooFab.
He thought the vocals "fell a little bit flat" but enjoyed the rest of the film. "I liked the visuals, I like the comedy, I like how they answered some of the questions and closed some of the plot holes that were in the original," he said. "Like how the heck did a 120-pound girl get a 400-pound beast on the back of her Clydesdale, little things like that. And the fact they made Chip an only child, closed that hole of questions, who are the little kids in the cupboard and why can’t they talk too? I really enjoyed it, I thought it was really well done and it was a lot of fun."
Jumanji got one of his kids interested in acting
The power of Jumanji is strong. So strong, in fact, that even Pierce’s kids, who were born long after the film was released, are fans. "Both of my older kids have seen the original Jumanji," Pierce told TooFab. "The youngest probably still a little too young for that, it can be a scary bit of film. They both enjoyed it… I don’t know if they necessarily grasped the messages of it, but that’s ok. When you’re a kid, you don’t need the heavy messages or morality of relying on your friends and relying on yourself, it’s just about having a good time."
Pierce has two sons and a daughter, and both of his sons are involved in the entertainment industry just like their dad. It was actually watching his dad in Jumanji that inspired Pierce’s older son to enter show business himself. According to Pierce, "after he finished watching it, he asked me if he could be on TV too and I said we would give it a try."
He doesn’t think he’ll ever get married again
Late in 2016, it was announced that Pierce and his wife were divorcing (via TMZ). The couple had been together for a decade and have three children together. "We were going through some rough times the last couple of years," he told thepaparazzigamer. "We did what we could to get ahead of it, but things get hard and sometimes you can’t keep each other happy the way you used to. So, we gave each other a little bit of space. That space turned into a little bit more space."
The split was an amicable one, but Pierce said that he doesn’t think that he will ever get married again, even though he was dating again by the time that the news broke. "I don’t think so," he said when asked if ever saw himself marrying in the future. "I’m not gonna completely write it out but it would definitely take … something amazing."
A budding filmmaker and entrepreneur
Bradley Pierce has been keeping himself busy since his Jumanji days and not just in Hollywood. His talents go far beyond acting, and the star has a variety of interests and skills. While he may not ever marry again, Pierce has not been afraid to enter a different sort of contract with his significant other, Bella Luna, who is also a veteran of the show business industry. Together, the two actors co-founded and run a website called Pierce & Luna. According to the site, Pierce & Luna offers "booze-fueled tales, bar reviews, and cocktail commentaries." The couple also creates their own cocktails and offers bartending services for parties and festivals.
Pierce has also been showing off his formidable creative skills by creating his own content. The actor produces films and digital content through another of his companies, ZFO Entertainment, which Luna also produces content for.
He doesn’t approve of Donald Trump’s "locker room talk"
Pierce weighed in on politics ahead of the 2016 United States presidential election, after previously unreleased tapes of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump were leaked to the press. The tapes featured Trump speaking to TV host Billy Bush during a taping of Access Hollywood in 2005. In the tapes, Trump made several vulgar comments that were dismissed as "locker room banter" by his campaign. "And when you’re a star they let you do it," said Trump on the tapes about approaching women and kissing them (via ABC). "You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y."
"I think that their locker room talk was completely inappropriate," Pierce told thepaparazzigamer. "That’s the normalization of rape culture. And that’s a bigger issue than two guys having a conversation in a locker room."
Pierce went on to emphasize the importance of consent and respect for women. "Not only is ‘no means no,’ but anything other than ‘yes,’ also means no. You need an explicit ‘yes’ for these things. Donald Trump’s conversation is horrible. It casts a bad light on men in general."
He’d be down to play Jumanji in real life
Most people would probably run away in terror if they encountered a real-life Jumanji game. After all, the game is terrifying and comes with a pretty real risk of death. People can disappear into the game for decades. Herds of wild animals can tear apart your house. Players even run the risk of being turned into wild animals. There’s a reason that players of the game in the movie tried to keep it hidden from other humans. Pierce, however, thinks that finding a Jumanji game would make for a pretty great adventure.
"Even though, you know, the stuff that comes out of it is intense and exciting, as long as you finish the game, it all goes away and goes back to normal," he told thepaparazzigamer when asked if he would play Jumanji in real life. "It all goes back to normal. Knowing that now, hell yeah I’d roll the dice."