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Kung Fu Panda 2 - Jack Black DVD Interview

Jack Black, Kung Fu Panda 2

Compiled by Jack Foley

JACK Black talks about reprising the role of beloved hero Po in Kung Fu Panda 2 and why getting into character was easier second time around.

He also talks about his passion for getting animated in the recording booth, why clothes can sometimes be a problem and why he takes his job as vocal lead very seriously, right down to studying kung fu. Kung Fu Panda 2 is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, November 14, 2011.

Q: Has Po changed much from the original Kung Fu Panda film to the sequel?
Jack Black: Po is still like a big kid. Even though he has become a dragon warrior kung fu master, he’s still the old Po. He’s still a little clumsy, wide-eyed, innocent and in awe of the other kung fu masters. He’s learning and his powers are getting stronger.

Q: Where does the Kung Fu Panda 2 story begin?
Jack Black: It pretty much picks up where it ended in the first movie. Po is the dragon warrior and works with the Furious Five to keep the valley safe.

Q: There’s a new threat to the valley. Can you talk about that?
Jack Black: Yes. The villain is a … peacock!

Q: A peacock doesn’t sound too sinister…
Jack Black: But, you see, this peacock has a new, powerful weapon and his extremely evil plan is to destroy kung fu and take over China. All of China! The weapon is a cannon and it’s up to Po to save everybody.

Q: Po is always jumping around, throwing punches and kicks. When you record the voice are you physical in the sound booth? Are you jumping around?
Jack Black: Oh yeah. I’m up bouncing around. It’s necessary because you need your voice to match Po’s physical presence on screen. The only problem is my clothes sometimes make a sound and because Po doesn’t wear clothes, that’s a problem.

Q: Why not go naked in the sound booth?
Jack Black: I asked if I could but they wouldn’t let me.

Q: That’s a shame. What do you like best – acting in live action films or animated films?
Jack Black: I love both. They are both incredibly different. Although animated films can take three or four years to make, for the actor the process is kind of shorter. What I mean is, when I go in to work on an animated movie I’ll do six or seven scenes in that one day. When you shoot a live action movie, one day on set translates into maybe just one or two minutes of the movie. Animated can be a lot more satisfying.

Q: Was it easy to get back into Po’s fur for the sequel?
Jack Black: Yeah. That’s the advantage of doing a sequel. You already know the character your playing. You don’t need to waste time creating the character. You just jump right in. You also don’t have to set up the story as much. What I like to say is, doing Kung Fu Panda 2 was like going into your cupboard and finding a nice, old pair of slippers and putting them on. It felt great.

Q: The film has a theme of finding inner peace. Where do you find your inner peace?
Jack Black: A burrito. No, I find inner peace with my family.

Q: What’s a great lesson from the film?
Jack Black: The Furious Five never uses weapons of any kind. It’s all kung fu. So in a way it is a non-violent film. It discourages weaponry.

Q: Dustin Hoffman plays Po’s mentor, Shifu. Growing up, did you have a mentor who led you on to your path as an actor?
Jack Black: When I was at school I had a teacher called Debbie Devine. She was my first acting teacher and I was always getting into trouble, but she helped me turn myself around. She showed me the way I could put my energy into acting. So I give big props to Deb Devine.

Q: There’s lots of fun and action in Kung Fu Panda 2, but the animation is also stunning. Not just the characters, but the landscapes and villages…
Jack Black: Oh yeah. They have achieved amazing things. It’s like watching a moving masterpiece with the beautiful vistas, mountains, villages and cities. It’s glorious.

Q: This is probably a silly question, but did you train in kung fu to prepare for the Kung Fu Panda movies?
Jack Black: It’s not a silly question. I did some kung fu training. I’m a lethal weapon.

Q: Really? Even though it is an animated film?
Jack Black: I am a professional. I take this job very seriously. Yes I did. I had a kung fu trainer. If you tried to attack me right now I could defend myself. Maybe even do some damage to you.

Q: When you are out in public do kids say ‘Hey, you’re Po from Kung Fu Panda!’?
Jack Black: Sometimes. Older kids do. Maybe 14 to 16-year-olds. Younger kids, often their parents will say ‘That man is the voice of Po’ and the kids will look at me and say: “That’s not Po!” They don’t get it. Then I say a line or two and it sometimes clicks. Most of the time they don’t believe it.

Q: What do you think about a Kung Fu Panda 3, 4, 5 and 6? How many sequels do you think is in the franchise?
Jack Black: I think we should probably stop at Kung Fu Panda 263. We should do at least 200 of them. No, my view is we should do more. As long as we are making kick ass movies we should keep doing them.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, November 14, 2011.