Today: April 20, 2024

JUMANJI’s Madison Iseman talks about Christmas movie’s Next level and the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Thinking of settling into a Christmas movie? JUMANJI’S Madison Iseman tells us why not one but two of her movies should be on your must-watch list this festive season. 

It’s that time of year where movies are aplenty. The box office is busting with tantalising watches and while the likes of Star Wars Rise of the Skywalker and Frozen II are the obvious watches there are other gems in store. Film Juice’s Janet Leigh catches up with Madison Iseman who tells us why both JUMANJI Next Level and her newly released Feast of the Seven Fishes are also top contenders.

So Madison how’s the holiday prep going?

Great. My family is all in South Carolina. I just got in a couple of days ago. It’s so nice here. it’s not really cold so it doesn’t really feel Christmassy yet but hopefully soon.

A little bit different to filming the Feast in the midst of all that snow. Did you know anything about the tradition before the movie?

No, I actually had no idea what it was or that it even existed. We were kind of thrown right into the middle of it.

‘It’ being the gathering of Italian-American families who prepare a meal consisting of only seafood observed on Christmas Eve.

What was the most interesting thing that you learnt about it?

The whole thing really. It’s much like what we do for Christmas Eve as far as bringing the whole family together on one night. Also the preparation and how long it actually takes to cook and how much of a whole day thing it is. There’s a lot of prep time.

Do you have any similar traditions of you own for Christmas?

Oh my gosh no. The complete opposite. We’re so boring, we get frozen finger food from Costco and put them in the oven. That’s about it. Ours is lazy and easy.

You know what, lazy and easy works sometimes. It just takes the stress away from everything. 

Yes. Exactly. No one wants to cook; everyone just wants to eat. 

So besides the finger foods, what’s on your Christmas table?

We always have a ham and beef and then my grandmother makes this amazing squash casserole that is to die for. It is the best thing in the world and she won’t give anyone the recipe unfortunately but that’s pretty much all I eat during the holidays.

You’re going to have to sweet talk her to get that recipe.

Exactly. Maybe I’ll just stalk and watch her cook it one day. Figure it out myself.

So tell me a little bit about your character Beth.

Beth is sort of a girl you’ve never really heard of before because she spends much of her time away at private school. She comes from a well-off family, she has her life laid out in front of her and because of all that she’s really curious about the rest of the world. She starts to challenge societies preconceived notions of what a young woman is supposed to do. I think (love interest) Tony really brings that out of her. He’s in the same place as here as far as wondering what else is out there.

Right. They’re both on a journey of self-discovery.

Yes. Exactly.

What was it like working with Skyler Gisondo (aka Tony aka Eric Bemis from Santa Clarita Diet – check it out, it’s awesome)?

Skyler’s amazing. He’s the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life but he’s also a very serious actor as well. He’s great with drama but his comedic timing is just genius.

Your characters Beth and Tony form a bond really quickly. Why do you think that is?

We were kind of just thrown into it. We were right in the middle of West Virginia. It was snowing. There wasn’t really much to do. We were forced to just sit in our hotel, there was only one restaurant near by and I think because of that we just got super close right away. We were only there for three weeks so it was a really fast filming process. I think because of all of those things we just kind of leaned on each other.

Nice, so you’re saying that translated into the characters as well?

Yes, exactly and being right in the setting helped. Even when we were actually filming the feast we were cooking as well so it was kind of like we were just filming a holiday party. Which I think you can really feel on screen too because that’s exactly how we filmed it.

What would you say makes The Feast of Seven Fishes the perfect holiday watch?

It’s got a little bit of everything. Family, tradition, romance. It hits all the pockets you want to feel around the holidays. It’s a feel good family movie more than anything.

A hard question now. What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Oh gosh. I feel like I always go back to Elf.

Such a good one.

It’s not the classic Christmas movie but I love it so much.

It’s so, so good.

MI – So good.

The Feast isn’t the only movie you have out this Christmas season, there’s also JUMANJI Next Level where you play another kind of Beth. How different are the characters?

It’s so funny, because we’re promoting the two at the same time I sometimes even mix up Beth and Bethany. But Bethany, she definitely more of the queen-bee, self-obsessed, phone-obsessed kind of girl. I will say in the new movie you kind of find her where we left her off in the last film. She’s still the same Bethany but she does have a new perspective and sense of adventure and a purer heart. 

What spoiler-free info can you tell us about JUMANJI Next Level? How different is it to the first?

They’re very different films. This one’s more of a rescue mission. Spencer gone back into the game and we jump back in there to find him. We all have different avatars this time, which makes everything very interesting and changes it from the last movie. But more than anything what makes it so different is that we have the new cast. Danny Devito, Danny Glover and Aquafina. They’re just all amazing and I think they really up the movie to the next level – no pun intended. It’s a really fun movie. 

Aquafina also describes it as fun but with a message what do you feel that message?

It’s really a line in the film that Danny Devito says which is getting older is a blessing. I think the message behind the film is to appreciate what you have in the moment because you never know when it’s going to be gone. This film has a lot of heart. I actually cried. It will make you laugh until you cry.

I’ve not seen this one yet but I actually really loved the first one. I didn’t think I was going to. Having grown up watching JUMANJI I was a little bit precious about it. Were you worried about those kind of responses?

I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t see the first movie growing up but auditioning I went back a watched it. I had a different perspective because I had the new one coming out in mind. After booking (the job) I read every online which they always tell you not to do but you always do it anyway and no one was excited for this movie to come out I can tell you that. People were mean.

I can imagine (checks old posts simultaneously and wipes them from existence…joking….maybe).

I don’t think anyone expected it to be what it was and I think that’s why people loved it so much.

Just to bring things back full circle, what do you think the message of The Feast is?

I think the overall message is the importance of family, tradition and love and acceptance. 

What was it that first drew you to the role?

I think more than anything I just really related to Beth on a lot of levels of just trying to figure things out and just not really sure exactly what to do. I think I was sort of in the same place at the time so when I read the script it really drew me into it. Also the cast that was involved as well. To work with people like that, it was the best acting class I’ve ever had, hands down. Every single one of the older cast they were just fantastic.

What do you think your biggest takeaway was from working with them?

More than anything just how they work and their work ethic. How natural and the way they would riff off each other, they were just having so much fun and I think that was the most shocking thing to me. Just how much fun they were having. If you can go to work every day like that then you’re doing pretty good. 

What’s next for you then?

Well I just wrapped production on a new Warner Brothers film called Clouds which is the story of Jack Sobiech’s life who past away in 2013 from Osteosarcoma. That’s going to be a really special movie. We played some of the people in his life and tell the story of the last year of his life. That’s going to be a tough one but it’s really special project.

That has to have been intense filming that, how do you recover?

The real family were very involved which helped take the load off us a little bit. The biggest thing is that you want to be respectful and you don’t want anyone’s story told in a way that they don’t want it told so having them there along with us just lifted that off our chest a little bit. More than anything though I’m just so happy to be home with my family for Christmas. I feel really blessed to be here.

So a big family Christmas at yours then?

Yes, we have big family hang that’s pretty much all it is.

Clouds is aiming for a 2020 release date but if you want your Iseman fix now JUMANJI Next Level and Feast of the Seven Fishes are a watch a way. Head to our review page to find out what we thought of the Feasts. 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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