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The School of Rock - Jack Black Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. I was wondering whether we get the right impression, as we sometimes think of you as a frustrated rocker, because clearly with the Tenacious D thing, which is hugely successful, it does seem that, as successful as you are as a movie star, you could be just as successful if you put all of your energies into rock and roll?
A.
That is not the case. I couldn't have done either of them, I don't think, if I didn't have the other one. I didn't really have an acting career before Tenacious D, and the thing about Tenacious D is that people like, I think, the theatricality, the acting that we do in that, so it's always been a combination for me.

Q. So do you think without Tenacious D we wouldn't have had The Darkness?
A.
Oh, I really like Darkness. And, no, I don't really think we influenced them. We have some similarities, in that we both make fun of rock, while loving it, intensely. They're great, though. I really love that song that I can't sing here now...
[Singing in Darkness voice] Get your hands off of my lover! Motherhaaabaaa. Mother Hubbard [says, facing the kids].
That was a freebie, a free concerto for you, the press!

Q. You made your big breakthrough with High Fidelity and have gone on from there, but this is the first film that has sort of been built around you. Were you sort of aware of any additional responsibility?
A.
Was I aware of additional responsibility since this script was written for me, no. You know, it makes it easier if there's a really good writer who knows you well, and writes it in your voice. It's like a good piece of writing protects you from being bad, and makes it easier. I like to say that he's like a tailor who tailored me a suit of heavy metal armour, so I could go into battle, and conquer, and slay the giant wildebeest!

Q. Presumably he kept on writing as you were filming? I mean, were there running repairs?
A.
Yeah, he kept on writing while we were filming, working closely with [Richard] Linklater. Richard had certain things he wanted that he didn't think were there, and I think with the good movies, the director is always going to do a little writing, and the writer is always going to do a little directing, and the actor is going to do what he's told. No. I like to get in there and collaborate too, I like to throw in a couple of little flavour nuggets of my own. Everyone should collaborate and all of that...

Q. Can I ask you about your comedy genius and comparisons with John Belushi, and how are you getting to grips with your sex symbol image?
A.
I'm always flattered when people compare me to John Belushi. He was definitely an influence. Comparisons, I guess, aside from the fact that we're both chubby and have powerful eyebrow technique, I guess we also have a similar raunchy energy. But I think the thing that was great about Belushi was just that you loved him. I remember I wasn't even thinking about how great a performer he was, but rather, wow, I'd really like to hang out with that guy; he had a great high hangability quotient. And if I had that, it'd be great.

Q. And the second part was your sex symbol status?
A.
Oh, the sex symbol question. Is that true? Is that real? [laughs] Well I'm well over 13 stone. Truth be told, at the moment I'm pushing 15 stone. And if a man, at just over 5ft 6ins, and 15 stone, can be attractive to the opposite sex, I guess I'm a hero!

Q. We see you dive into the crowd on two occasions. Does that mark the realisation of any musical ambitions?
A.
I've never done any stage dives in my performance, because I'm heavy and short, and if I dove into the audience, it would be like throwing a bowling ball out there; I would injure someone and be hard to catch. I've always wanted to, though; all the greats have taken the plunge.
So yeah, it was a little bit of dream fulfillment for me.

Q. Did your life flash before your eyes when you did it?
A.
You know, no, my life didn't flash before my eyes, because there were trained professionals out there to catch me, I knew that. But it was based, loosely, on an actual event. I went to see a reunion, in Los Angeles, of The Cult; they were playing and Ian Astbury, the lead singer, took a dive. It was at The Viper Room, and it was just a bunch of jaded Los Angelinos out there, and they didn't catch him and he plummeted straight to the ground. [Laughter] I thought it was so hilarious. So that was put into the script.

Q. Was there any master or teacher that you would credit with giving you some inspiration? Or, conversely, one that you would like to go back and throttle? And what advice would you give to the four youngsters here?
A.
Yeah, there were some great teachers. My acting teachers, in High School, were most influential on me. There's one named Debbie Devine, who was a little bit crazy, but she loved what she was teaching so much, and it was so infectious, and that was the first time that I really paid attention. It didn't feel like school, cos whenever it felt like school, I would immediately fall asleep, as I had trouble staying awake.
And there was a teacher that I would like to go back in the time machine and throttle. I just asked her... I needed to go to the bathroom, and she said 'no, you should have taken that at recess; you'll wait, you'll wait, young man'.
And then she went back to writing on the board and another kid, next to me, was like, 'just go, man, she won't even notice, I do it all the time, just go.'
And I said, 'no, she'll catch me and I'll be in trouble, no'. But he said, 'I'll go, I don't even need to go to the bathroom' and he snuck out and run up and down the corridor; but I couldn't do it, I was too scared, and then I pissed in my pants, sitting in that chair, and then ran home in shame!
Mmm, and then as far as any lessons that I would have for the kids, I would say, you know, if you want to do stuff in the arts, if you want to make a living in the arts, I've said it before, I think it's important to do all of the arts, or as many of them as you can - the painting, the drawing, the acting, the directing, the editing, the filming, the music-playing. You've got to cast a wide net, I think, because if you focus on just one thing, I don't think it's good to put all your eggs in one basket. Also, other arts feed each other, so it's good to do everything.

Q. What do you think of current trends, particularly in music? Are you a fan of things like Pop Idol and do you think it's a good way for someone to start out, rather than having to find their own way, themselves?
A.
That's like a Lottery, the new Pop Idol shows are, you know, I think that's a way to be famous, kind of. That's just basically karaoke contest, none of those people are writing songs, so I don't care about any of that thing. I'm not going to buy any of their records. I'll buy the records of the people of the songs that they're singing; the people who wrote those songs, so I don't think that's a good thing. I don't think it's helping to further music.

Q. Where does Dewey end and Jack Black begin? And how did appearing with your band in this film compare to being on stage with Neil Diamond at the end of Saving Silverman?
A.
Well, first of all, I think Dewey is me five years ago, basically, before I had a career, when I was a little more desperate and frustrated. And the difference is, I make fun of rock for a living, kind of, and Dewey would never make fun of rock. He takes it very seriously and loves it too much.
And the other part, and how did performing with these guys compare to performing with Neil Diamond? Mmm, when I did that little bit in Saving Silverman, with Neil on stage, that didn't feel like much at all. He was doing all the heavy lifting and we were just sort of window-dressing.
But with these guys, we were really a band and shared the load, and the terror, and the glory - for hours.

Q. I was reading on the internet today that you said Coldplay is what Jesus' band would sound like, so I was wondering what you thought of other British bands? Like Oasis? Do you like them?
A.
They were great, yeah. Kyle's more of an Oasis buff than me. But we love them and saw them in Las Vegas, except they didn't play Wonderwall, and that bugs me when the band doesn't play the hit. When they say, 'no, that's what they want us to play, we're going to do this other thing, to show them we're not...' You know, just play what we came to pay hear you play. But, what do I think of the other bands, like aah...
Q. Radiohead?
A. You know, I worship Thom Yorke. I saw him, actually it was one of the best concerts I had ever seen. We were on the bill of a Neil Young benefit concert, in San Francisco, the Bridge School Benefit, and Thom Yorke was doing a solo performance; playing Radiohead songs on his acoustic guitar and on Neil Young's piano, and, yeah, that was one of the best things I had ever seen. It was so good.
And then he was really mean to me, afterwards. Understandably, I was kind of a psycho fan, approaching him, saying 'Thom, I just want to say, that was really moving, thank you thing', but he walked away. But then I heard later that he's famously cold, and it wasn't just me that he despises, but the whole world [laughter].

Q. This is your most commercial movie to date, so I guess I'm asking have you sold out? And did you have to compromise on the script in any way?
A.
Have I sold out? I don't know, the definition of sold out, I would question that. The real question is, have you lost your talent; are you no longer, you know, relevant.
I just stop liking people when they don't entertain me anymore, you know. If they're doing something for a larger audience, that doesn't bother me.
And what are the compromises of doing this movie? As opposed to what, or High Fidelity?
I don't know, I didn't use the F-word, or anything, so I guess you could say that's a compromise, not using bad language, but who cares?
That was a challenge. I didn't show butt crack, like I did in High Fidelity, so I guess you could say I sold out, cos he's not showing his arse crack! So much for the real JB. It's still me; this is more me than any of my movies, really.

Q. When you were young, when did you realise what you wanted to become? When did you become more extrovert, like you are now?
A.
I was very young when I discovered acting and the attention it garnered. It was at a Passover dinner - I'm a Jew. We had a Passover dinner at a friend's house, and then afterwards, the host said, 'now it's time to play the Freeze Game!'
And I asked what's the Greeze Game? I was nine-years-old and it was basically an improvisational game, where you would go up, and say 'freeze' when people were doing something, like, 'oh man, I'm tired of holding on to this log, how far down the river will it go', and then you'd go 'freeze'! And then you'd come up out of the audience and tap the person that you wanted to leave, and take their body position, and then say, 'whoof, I'm a dog', or whatever, and then someone else says 'freeze' and it keeps on going like that.
I did it. I kept on saying 'freeze' because I just wanted the attention. Because there's a black hole in my heart that needs to be filled. I didn't get enough love. My parents were loving, but it wasn't enough. For some reason, there's this gene in my DNA, that says I need more attention and love than most, so it's that insecurity that drives me.

Q. Was there a lot of musical improvisation and jamming while you were filming? Did they find it hard to drag you away, once you had started something, musically?
A.
No, well, I was never the task master who would say, 'stop goofing around you guys, and let's get back to serious work'. I was always sort of goofing around with them, and then someone else would have to scold us. But did they ever have to force us to stop jamming? Yeah, a couple of times, but I don't really remember that being a problem, though. They told us to 'shut up' a few times.

Q. But did you bother with them?
A.
Did we care what they said, do you mean? Yeah, I mean, making a movie is a machine, and if you're messing it up.. you want it to go smoothly, you don't want to be messing it up.

Q. What did you get from working with the kids? Did you hate them?
A.
I despised them. I couldn't wait until the film was over and could get rid of them. Brats [laughs].
No, actually it was a great experience, because now I've made a few films and am used to working with actors that have done tonnes of movies, and are really jaded, and like punching the clock, and just approaching it like any other job.
But these guys were really excited to be there, because, you know, it was pretty exciting, being their first movie, and it really rubbed off on me, and made me feel like it was my first movie, in a way.

Q. Do you find yourself funny?
A.
Um, I don't usually find myself funny, no!

Q. So what makes you laugh?
A.
What makes me laugh? You know, different stuff. I saw this one episode - I haven't seen the rest of them - but I saw this one episode of The Office, just so you guys will know what I'm talking about.
That guy, the guy who plays the guitar in that one episode, who's kind of the boss, the manager of The Office, who fancies himself as a great musician, and used to be in a band? That was kicking my arse pretty good. That guy's really subtle, and made me laugh hard.

Q. You are pretty similar to Jim Carrey, in terms of using physical comedy, so would you take that as a compliment, and would you want to move into straight roles like he did?
A.
I would take it as a compliment as I think he's really funny. But I wouldn't like to move into straight man roles as he did! But maybe as someone else did.

Q. Do you still get to wear the school uniform from the film?
A.
No, they don't let you keep the costumes. And, no, I wouldn't want to slip into that sausage suit again, anytime soon.

Q. What's happening with the Tenacious D movie?
A.
The Tenacious D movie has been written and we're going to shoot that this year. And you know that the DVD, The Complete Masterworks, is available in stores now? Not for children.

 

 

 

 

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