Combustible Celluloid

Interview: Jack Black

Back 'n' Black

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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In the new movie, School of Rock, Jack Black plays a substitute teacher who enlightens a group of upper-class ten year-olds about the virtues of rock 'n' roll. Black recently visited San Francisco to talk about the new film, directed by Richard Linklater. The mostly nocturnal musician/actor was awake earlier than usual but he still managed to punctuate his drowsiness with bursts of energy.

Q: As a kid, how did you make the jump from watching "Sesame Street" to being a rock 'n' roller?

JB: I was listening to Journey and Styx. They were my "Sesame Street." One day I went to the record store and the guy told me not to buy the new Journey album. Instead he handed me a copy of "Blizzard of Ozz" by Ozzy Osbourne. That's how it all started.

Q: You're often associated with Tim Robbins and John Cusack. How did you all meet?

JB: I was a groupie [of Tim's acting troupe in L.A.]. I didn't sleep with any of them, but I hung out until one day I got a small part in one of their plays. Then when Tim made his first big film (Bob Roberts) he gave me a break.

Q: You played opposite Bill Murray in Tim Robbins' 1999 film Cradle Will Rock. How was it working with one of your idols?

JB: I made the mistake of letting him know how big of a fan I was.

Q: You're a kind of free spirit, while School of Rock director Richard Linklater is more of a philosophical type. How did you get along with him?

JB: We went at it a few times. Mostly it was about the tunes. He wanted "Sweet Jane" and I wanted "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock 'n' Roll)." But since I'm the one who's doing the singing, I kinda had the advantage. When the producers told us he was directing, though, I knew it was going to be good. We needed someone who could make it not schmaltzy.

Q: How did you get along with the kids? Did you corrupt them for life?

JB: No. They came on board with their own knowledge. We just hung, rocker to rocker.

September 16, 2003

Partial Jack Black Filmography:
Bob Roberts (1992)
Demolition Man (1993)
The Neverending Story III (1994)
Bye Bye Love (1995)
Waterworld (1995)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Bio-Dome (1996)
The Cable Guy (1996)
The Fan (1996)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Bongwater (1997)
The Jackal (1997)
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Enemy of the State (1998)
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Jesus' Son (1999)
High Fidelity (2000)
Saving Silverman (2001)
Shallow Hal (2001)
Orange County (2002)
Ice Age (2002) (voice)
School of Rock (2003)
Envy (2004)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Shark Tale (2004) (voice)
King Kong (2005)
Nacho Libre (2006)
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
The Holiday (2006)
Margot at the Wedding (2007)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Be Kind Rewind (2008)
Kung Fu Panda (2008) (voice)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Year One (2009)

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