The actor expresses his feelings about playing a director of a movie and being directed by Peter Jackson
Jack Black goes a little out of his element in King Kong. We're normally used to seeing him laugh it up and act completely crazy on screen. Not in this film; he was focused on getting every bit of his acting skills out there. Jack plays a con artist, I mean director of a film shooting on a remote island in the South Pacific. He quickly discovers that his movie isn't what he planned it to be - an angry group of natives and a 25 foot gorilla get in his way.
Jack talked to MovieWeb about his most cherished role yet, and he let us in on what he's working on next:
This is your most uncharacteristic performance; how challenging was it to shake your mannerisms?
Jack Black: You know, every movie presents its challenges. This one was tricky because it was set in 1930's, it's not easy to improvise in a 1930's style of talking and so I stuck totally to the script. I really had to trust totally in Peter [Jackson] and in Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens] with their vision, and I would do it and say ‘how was that?' They would lead me towards the perfect take. It was a different experience in that it was a lot more about trusting than about me taking over and just forcing Jack in to the role trying to become this other guy.
Would you have done this, had any other director approached you?
Jack Black: Well, it was a cool role, regardless of who was directing it; it was really a great written script. But I didn't read the script when I accepted the role, I did it because I wanted to work with Peter.
Did you accept it because it was different than the norm, you would be going beyond people's expectations?
Jack Black: No, I just wanted to party with Peter Jackson; honestly, that was a kind of a secret goal of mine and it was unbelievable, I didn't think I'd be able to. I talked to my agent a few months beforehand ‘I want to be in a Peter Jackson movie, can't you make it happen, you're a power agent!' And she was like ‘Dude, everybody wants to be in a Peter Jackson movie.' And I was like ‘You're right, so let's just forget it.' And then he calls, weirdly, and asked me to come and interview for King Kong; I would've come and interviewed for Turds on Ice if he was directing it. Luckily it was one of the most amazing parts, and incredible scripts I've ever read.
You are the crazy out of control director, did you base it on anyone?
Jack Black: Well, they had told me that they were looking for kind of a young Orson Welles type of filmmaker, who is real cocky, filled with sort of a youthful exuberance and a little bit of hubris, little bit of – and I was like ‘Yeah, so I can be like a genius?' And they were like ‘Yeah, he's a genius, but he's more of a frustrated genius, he's like the unsuccessful version of Orson Welles, so he's got this chip on his shoulder but also this hunger to be hailed as a genius.'
Do you see a DVD release for Heat Vision and Jack?
Jack Black: (laughs) No, I wish; I wanted that, that was a TV pilot I did a long time ago, it didn't get picked up, but might make a movie of it someday. My friends are writing it; there's a little scoop for ya.
If you could be any other part on the ship, who would it be and why?
Jack Black: You mean on the ship of the movie making King Kong? Oh wait a second, now I see what you mean, I got confused because of the movie within the movie thing. If I could be anyone on the ship besides Carl Denham, who would I have been? Well I guess I'd go – I wouldn't want to do the romantic lead, because I'd be really embarrassed in that. The whole time I'd be going, why didn't they hire Adrien Brody? (lots of laughs) But yeah, I'd have liked to have been King Kong; let's face it, that's what everyone's going to see, everyone wants to see that big ass gorilla kicking ass all over the jungle and New York, that's what I want to see.
Has this changed people's perception of you in Hollywood?
Jack Black: No, this is the biggest budget movie that I've ever been on, but it's still the same job. You want to work with cool people with great minds and creativity, and Peter Jackson was an artist that I wanted to hang out with. You want to spend time with people that you really respect; it's not just making the movie, but like you're spending a year of your life with that person, you want it to be someone that you enjoy their company.
Will we ever see you collaborate with Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon on something big?
Jack Black: Yeah, we're always working on stuff and talking about stuff; they're writing a draft of an animation feature that I'm working on for Katzenberg, the Kung Fu Panda. And they're writing a draft of Heat Vision and Jack screenplay, which is based on the failed pilot, but we still think it could be a good movie - basically Six Million Dollar Man type of story - I'm an astronaut, who got too close to the sun, I come back to earth, and something's wrong with me, but whenever the sun hits me I become the smartest man in the world.
Are they doing the whole origin story again?
Jack Black: You know, I don't even know where they're starting from, to tell you the truth; I've been so swamped with my other stuff. I know it'll be good, because those guys are.
Did Colin Hanks get cast after you?
Jack Black: I'm not sure, I did not have a hand, I didn't say ‘look if you want me, you've got to cast Colin, we're a team.' But I do love Colin, I was really stoked when they cast him, but I was not gonna make that the ‘make or break.'
Did that make it easier on you?
Jack Black: Yeah, I was checking out the interesting pairings, because me and Colin had worked together and had a great time on Orange County, and Thomas Kretschmann and Adrien Brody worked so great together in The Pianist, and I was like ‘what's going on here, they're bringing in the pairings.' And it was good, because a lot of us had a good working rapport from previous stuff. But Naomi didn't have anybody that she had worked with, except for Lobo Chan, who had a very small role; they worked on something.
What else are you working on?
Jack Black: Well, I did a film that I wrote, called Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny; I don't know what the release date is right now. We are going in to do a re-shoot of the finale; I thought the finale was kick ass, it was basically just sort of small scale, it's us in a club playing a song, the end. But then we watched it, and we were like, the movie is so exciting and ridiculous up to that point, the world has to explode or something has to happen, you know. It was my first time writing and producing; it was a learning curve. And I've also learned, there's no shame in going back and re-shooting; a lot of times the best stuff happens, so we're gonna go and explode the world, for the end of the movie. I also just finished playing a Mexican wrestler, in Mexico, Nacho Libre. It's with Jared Hess from Napoleon Dynamite.
What projects do you have with your company?
Jack Black: Well, this is our flagship production, King Kong, it's our first – no, just kidding. No, Nacho Libre, that Mike White wrote and I'm starring in, and Jared Hess is directing. And we got a few other ones that we're developing, one with Edgar Wright, who directed one of my favorite movies ever, did you see his little zombie picture, Shaun of the Dead, so f-ing hilarious. We're working on a movie based on a book called Them, about all the extremists of the world, of all shapes and sizes, from different cultures, and what they all have in common, a lot of them believe that the whole world is controlled by small group of billionaires and they control all the wars and it's basically a big conspiracy theory. But when you look at the people who have these theories, there's a lot of humor, but there's also like this little scary thing, like ‘wait a second, maybe it's true!' Maybe there's these rich scary a-holes who are controlling everything (laughs), and having dinner parties and doing blow.
So what are you in production for?
Jack Black: A little romantic comedy called Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Nancy Meyers.
Is it a remake of the Cary Grant movie?
Jack Black: Oh no, no.
Are you one of the two couples?
Jack Black: Yeah, well, we're not a couple at the beginning, we just sort of – something happens, the other one is – I'll tell you on the next one.
King Kong roars into theaters December 14th; it's rated PG-13.