Jack Black

on .

Jack Black, well known for his persona in the big screen, is much more relaxed in reality or at least that is the illusion that he projects during the interview. We are sitting with him at the hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica. With Jack we had dreamt the action of Poh in the franchise Kung Fu Panda, and in the film School of Rock. His portraits are always a great adventure for the audience. With a fantastic curiosity and a passion to learn Jack has taught himself a few languages as Spanish and French and he confesses trying constantly perfecting his Castilian watching Spanish movies in his original version.
 
 
Q: ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
A: Bien (Ok) (answer in Spanish)
 
Q: ¿Do you speak Spanish?
A: A little bit, yes. MI Spanish sometimes is better than my English. What about you? 
Q: The same.
A: Ah very well then we can do the interview in Spanish (he laughs)
 
Q: ¿Do you like to read in Spanish?
A: Only the subtitles of the movies when I’m in Mexico or in Spain  
 
Q: How did you work on your accent? Do you talk a lot with Spanish people?
A:  Yeah well, first I tried to learn as much Spanish as I could, just to get my mouth used to making the shapes that Spanish makes . . . Certain words that I liked to latch onto that makes your mouth do different things like “mia colless”. That’s my favorite day of the week sound. Wednesday. And I like the word “entonces"
 
Q: Do you practice in front of the mirror with the Spanish accent?
A: Yeah, always. Lots of mirror time. Not vanity so much, just trying to make myself laugh.
 
Q: Do you find yourself funny?
A  Do I find myself funny?  At times.  I mean, when I make myself laugh then I feel I’m on to something.  It’s hard to surprise yourself, that’s how you make yourself laugh.  It’s a trick.  It’s a conundrum that some people are good at making themselves laugh all the time.  {laughing} 
 
Q:  What stories did fascinate you when you were a child?
A:  How do you surprise yourself, you know what you’re going to say before you say it.  I loved the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Man.  I loved super powers.  Doing people that could fly.  The strongest man, I loved the Hulk.  I loved Hercules.  He’s my favorite Greek – was he a god?
 
Q:  No.
A:  He’s just a son of a god, son of a god.  
 
Q:  What was your most memorable travel from maybe your childhood?  What was that trip, that adventure that you remember most?
A:  I remember I drove with my father on a business trip.  I was only like 12 or so maybe younger.  We were going through Europe.  We drove through Austria.  I remember what it was like.  We were driving through a fairytale.  The forest was so beautiful and green and dark and going these roads through dense forest and then we came upon a little clearing where the sun was shining and this green valley and this little like restaurant and we went in. They had Vienna Schnitzel.  I had never had Vienna Schnitzel but we have a chain, a fast food chain here in America called Der Vienna Schnitzel.  It was just a hotdog stand.  They don’t have Vienna Schnitzel.  So I thought I was going to get a hotdog but they gave me this Vienna Schnitzel which is like this pounded flat piece of veal and you eat it.  It’s breaded and crispy and oh, it’s my favorite meal.  I’ll never forget my drive through Austria.
 
Q.        Was it always your dream to be larger than life?
A: Well, when I was young I wanted to be responsible for blowing people’s minds.  I don’t remember wanting to be a giant but I had a fantasy that I would be performing on stage and that I would be singing.  There would be one note coming out of this nostril and a different note coming out of the other nostril and then singing something different. And people in the audience going, ‘Oh, its impossible!  He’s so AMAZING!’ So, I did want to make people amazed. 
 
Q.        Did that happen?
A: No.  But when I saw Bobby McFerrin perform for the first time, that’s what I wanted.  I wanted to be that guy because he would be slapping his chest and doing all these kinds of instrument sounds.
 
Q.        And where is he now?
A: What are you saying? You know, he got a bad rap after that song, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’  That kind of killed it.  But he’s still an amazing musician, to me.  He’s still my hero.
 
Q.        Do you do anything to relax at all?
A: Yes.  Ah… you know, what do I do to relax? I started doing some Tai Chi – not to relax but to prepare and to do a little research.  I found it very meditative and relaxing (demonstrates). It’s similar to yoga.  There’s tons of stretching.  I also like a deep tissue massage.  Yeah, I guess that’s it.
 
Q: Music?
A: Play some music, yeah, but most of my music isn’t for relaxing. It’s for rocking.  It’s the other thing – it’s to bring it up.
 
Q.        Do your kids like the music?
A: They don’t hear my music yet, they’re only 2 and 4 years old.  My music’s very spicy.  Lots of f-bombs but I sing to them.  We like to play music and play around.
 
Q.        What were you like as a kid?  Did you have a vivid imagination?
A: Yeah, I did a lot of world creating when I was a kid, a lot of pretending.  Pretending that I was bionic, had super powers, I had the time machine and I knew where a magic dragon was that made the chocolate candies that put them in the toilet (pauses).
 
Q.        So your jokes are still from your childhood?
A: Yep.  My career has become an extension of my childhood.
 
Q.        Were you surprised that happened?
A: Yeah.  I mean, it made sense though when I started working.  My sense of humour is pretty childish and when we started working on School of Rock, it made sense to me that I should do a kids movie.
 
Q.        Have you been writing?
A: I have written.  I wrote the Tenacious D songs and sketches in the movie but I’m not currently writing a screenplay, no.
 
Q.        What’s happening with Tenacious D?
A: We’re in the studio and we’ve just finished our sixth song but we’re kind of going piecemeal – we go into the studio and record a song.  We’re not writing the whole album and then recording the whole album.  It’s a slow going process.  I’ve been busy and I squeeze in a song in between. 
 
Q.        Your character has to prove himself That seems to be a theme in your work – do you feel you still have to prove yourself?
A: Oh that, yeah.  Yeah there is something about that.  When I was a kid I wanted desperately to be respected…… and more than that, adored.  I’m not going to say worshipped (laughs) but somewhere in that neighborhood, you’ve got that feeling that you want to be special.  Like that Radiohead song ‘… I’m a freak’ (sings).  There’s something primal, there’s something that I think everybody can relate to and yeah, that’s what sort of led me to my path and you know, there’s lessons to be learned that it’s not really about… how impressive your resume is as much as who you are
 
Q.        Are you in peace with your ego?
A: For the most part, yeah.
 
Q.        What’s the one thing you feel you deserve respect for?
A: I don’t really feel like I deserve respect based on anything I’ve done because I always think, yeah.. but now what?  I feel like, yeah, that was good, I did something good but that only lasts a short time when I’m feeling like, ok good.  There’s never a point where I feel, ‘Okay, finally! I’ve done what I came to do.  Now I can relax and kick up my heels.’  Because then I feel, yeah…. but it’s just so transitory and people are going to forget.  It’s always, what are you doing now?  What’s next?  Unless you do something so mind-blowingly big.  Like if you’re Einstein and came up with E = mc2 then you can just chill out.  You’re done.  It’s all you got.  But there’s only a handful of people who do something so great that they don’t have to keep on doing stuff.
 
Q.        You were talking about being special, who or what makes you feel special?
A: There are times, there are brief little moments of specialness when you go up on stage with the band and we’re rocking and we’re really in the pocket, really in the zone.  I’m feeling it with the audience and I’m just transparent and saying what’s on my mind and I feel like everyone in the room is on the same page. Then I feel like, yeah, this is a special moment.
 
Q.        You seem like the guy who will never grow up.  Do you play video games? Play station?
A: I haven’t been playing my Xbox.  I haven’t got Play Station or Wi.  I’m an Xbox guy and I do want to play it but there’s not much time.  You put the kids to bed, they’re going to bed kind of late.  Sammy is a night owl.   We get him to bed at 9 and they’re going to wake up at 7, so how late are you going to stay up? You’ve got to get to bed by midnight so there’s a small window to do stuff and I don’t want to fill up those lat three hours of the day paying video games.  We’ve got Project Runway to watch! (laughs). 
 
Q.        Are you thinking about the next project?
A: Of course, I’m always thinking about the next project!  I’ve already finished one called The Big Year.  A comedy with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson about bird watching.  Very exciting. And I’m going to do a movie with Rick Linklater, my old pal from School of Rock. He wrote a script based on true story called Bernie about a guy.  I like to describe it as the anti Harold and Maude, which is a movie I love but basically the opposite of that.  Well, not the opposite, it’s still about a guy and an older woman who gets together but then instead of it being a sweet romance it’s a nightmare.  She traps me and won’t let me go.  It’s with Shirley MacLaine.
 
Q.        What’s the one thing you like most about yourself?
A: I don’t know (whispers) I don’t know.  I guess it’s my cute little button nose. I know that’s not the answer you want.  I don’t know what I like about myself.