Nacho Libre - Jack Black interview
Compiled by Jack Foley
JACK Black talks about playing a wrestling Mexican priest in Nacho Libre, as well as the allure of stretchy pants…
Q. What kind of training did you undergo for Nacho Libre?
A. I had some wrestling training in Los Angeles with a former pro wrestler who wrestled in Japan and Mexico and the United States. Lucha Libre is really big in Japan, apparently. And his name is Tom. That’s his secret identity. I don’t know what his real wrestling identity is, but he taught me all of the basics. I also already knew a little bit from doing judo when I was younger. So I knew how to fall down and dive and do some throws. But I also went down to Mexico and trained there for a few weeks. I went to a lot of lucha matches and watched a lot of lucha film, and that was my training basically. I didn’t get injured during training but I did while we were filming.
Q. How did you get injured?
A. I was diving out of the wrestling ring to tackle my opponent who was running away, and I hit my head on a metal chair. I got some stitches.
Q. How easy was it for you to get the accent?
A. I worked hard at the accent. I watched a lot of films and I learned as much Spanish as I could because there’s a lot of shapes that your mouth has to make that you don’t normally do.
Q. Did it ever feel claustrophobic underneath the mask?
A. No. It felt like a second skin. I never never felt claustrophobic.
Q. And how did you feel about wearing the rest of the costume, including those stretchy pants?
A. I liked it because it was funny. I mean, I wouldn’t wear it to the supermarket. I also liked to keep my chest covered, for the most part, and maybe was a little harder to breathe on some days if I had a lot of tlayudas.
Q. Were you ashamed about wearing the lucha costume at any point?
A. No. Never ashamed. But sometimes a little embarrassed just because with such tight pants, you’re very exposed and you’re out in front of hundreds of people watching in the stands. But I remembered: “Wait a second, when I’m embarrassed, that’s when I’m doing my funniest shit – so okay, that’s good.” I ended up really liking the costume. It was my friend because it was helping me to be funny.
Q. What do you think fans of lucha libre will think about the movie?
A. I don’t know. I hope they like it. I love it. And I think we got some really good moves in there, some good wrestling moves. It’s not really like the old lucha movies from the ’70s where, you know, those guys wore the masks the whole movie and fought against some aliens. I think it’s a great lucha movie of a different type. There’s room for all different kinds.
Q. Did you know much about lucha libre before getting this project?
A. No, I didn’t really know anything about it. When I was a kid, I knew Mexican wrestlers wore really cool-looking masks that made them look like superheroes. But I had never seen a lucha match. But when Jared [Hess] said he wanted to make a lucha film, you know, he wanted me to play a luchador, I went and I researched it because I was thinking, “I don’t think I can do it”. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it convincingly. But then I saw some films and I imagined myself in the costume and in the ring doing the moves. I thought: “Yeah, I see what he’s thinking. It’s going to be funny. Okay.”
Q. Did you find yourself getting more toned as the movie went on?
A. Yes [laughs]. Unfortunately. I was trying to stay fat. But as you can see, I accidentally became very sexy.
Q. How was the waxing? Was it as painful as it looks?
A. You know, that was my idea because I was kind of hairy and in all my research it was almost all hairless luchadors. So I said okay, I’m going to wax. But it was very painful and I looked like a pink Chihuahua at the end! I was very red. Luckily, it calmed down by the time we had to shoot.
Q. How was working with Ana de la Reguera?
A. Ana de la Reguera is awesome. She is really fun to work with – very positive, funny, a great actress and beautiful. I think she’s going to become a big star and then she’ll be bigger than me. And then she won’t return my calls when I say: “Remember, I gave you a big break?” [Laughs] We’ll see. She better not forget.