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
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
Q. So do you think without Tenacious D we wouldn't have had
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
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
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...
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
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
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
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
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
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.