Interviews

Year One's Jack Black

Source: Edward Douglas
April 29, 2009

During our visit to the set, ComingSoon.net finally had a chance to interview Jack Black towards the end of our day. Fortunately, we already had a chance to change back into our street clothes, but Black was fine remaining in his costume. In fact, he chose to recline on a luxurious lounge chair belonging to the King of Sodom while speaking to us, which made the interview that much more surreal.

ComingSoon.net: How do you like the get-up?
Jack Black: This get is very comfortable. These shoes won't stay laced, which is a huge pain in the ass. You've gotta go zip. This is how they did it back in the olden days, back in primitive times they didn't have good lacing technology. It is kinda like this is the slave gear when my character is going through tough times in the movie. Strangely the lower the class the more comfortable the clothes.

CS: Do you get a wardrobe upgrade in the movie?
Black: Yeah, at one point I'm mixing with the royals in silken robes all bejeweled. Pretty fancy. I go from the top to the bottom from the bottom to the top...

CS: Is the hair consistent throughout the movie or is this the slave cut?
Black: This hairdo remains a constant. Always long caveman hair with a caveman beard. Grizzly Adams. I do get finely coiffed though for my royal orgy scene.

CS: We hear there's a PG-13 type orgy in the script?
Black: Yeah. Can't really show pumpin'. (laughter) Strictly insinuated. People feeding each other grapes and there are some make-outs and some meaningful eye contact.

CS: Are they red or green grapes? Of course some are sexier than others?
Black: Of course red.

CS: What's your reaction when you see an orgy scene in a script? Is it something you look forward to?
Black: No, it just kind of sprang up and surprised me. I just woke up one day, and I was like, I'm in an orgy. (laughter) Whoa! He-llo! Just another day in the life of biblical times.

CS: Harold Ramis told us he's been thinking about this movie for about 30 years. When you met him back in the "Orange County" days, did he mention this to you?
Black: He kept it hidden from me, a secret. Maybe he planned on doing it with someone else and finally he realized that I was going to be the guy. I just found out about this - I don't remember when he told me. It wasn't that long ago. He told me about it and I was into it and I read the script and we were making it. It feels like. I'm trying to only make people's dream movies. The ones they've been thinking about for 30 years.

CS: What did you shoot today?
Black: We only shot one scene today. We already did the scene but we didn't get the shot because it was storming and raining, so I came in just to say the line, "Will my toil never end!" And he wanted me to do it like Charlton Heston, so I showed a lot of my chompers. "Will my toil never end?" And he was pretty stoked, I think I nailed it.

CS: Do you think there are other good Biblical stories that need a good comedic retelling?
Black: Yeah, there are a lot of theatrical parts of the Bible. Like it'd be pretty fun to do some of the Moses stuff that we're not doing in this one because Harold thought it was just too much to break off. 'Cause he could have a movie of his own, and Mel Brooks did some Moses in his "History of the World." He had a bit with the 10 Commandments. I always thought it was funny when Moses went up on the hill, and came down with some stones that were carved into, and said, "These are from the Lord!" And no one said, "Well yeah, but who else was there, when you saw him?" And he'd just say, "No! It was just me and the Lord!" Seems kind of convenient and funny that no one ever questioned that. It'd be fun to do Noah's Ark, too. But he was recently featured in "Evan Almighty."

CS: They often put you in with a straight man in your films. How does Michael Cera compare?
Black: Michael is... a very special young man. He's very advanced, and there's very little effort on his part. Which is strange and foreign to me, Mr. Effort, Mr. Squeezie, Mr. Sweat... I think we do make a very delicious sandwich. I provide the salty sweat, he provides the sweet Maple syrup.

CS: That's a terrible sandwich!
Black: (laughter) Okay, let me change it. I provide the delicious salty peanut butter, and he provides the jam. You've never tried a salty, sweaty, maple syrup sandwich obviously! Try 'em before you sh*t on them like that Mr. Fancy Sandwich.

CS: How'd you first meet Judd Apatow?
Black: You know, I met Judd, he was working with Ben Stiller on the Jim Carrey movie that I did with him, I had a little part, in "Cable Guy." I remember he was a fan of Tenacious D, and he would wear the Tenacious D shirt proudly back in the day, and I always appreciated him. Then watching him get his own identity away from Ben over the years was pretty awesome. His mountain climb. So it's cool to work with him again, and we both have bigger parts. He's a big producer, and I have a bigger part than I did back [then] with a cameo kind of a roll.

CS: Kyle from Tenacious D is in the movie, right?
Black: He's in the movie too, yeah. He plays the palace eunuch. And it was my idea that he should get him to play the character with no balls just to get back at him for all the assh*le-y things he's done to me.

CS: Do you appear in the scene together?
Black: Just for a moment as I pass him by, but it is mostly him and Michael.

CS: What is it like working with Harold Ramis while you are also seen playing him in "Be Kind Rewind"?
Black: It is not that weird. It should be weirder. He gave us permission to use "Ghostbusters," which was very kind of him. There is a contest going on to do your own "sweded" film and you give the tape to the movie theater or something and you win prizes or something. Me and Harold should remake one his or my old movies together and send it in and try to win these prizes. It could be a really big prize. "Groundhog Day" with Jack Black or "School of Rock" starring Harold Ramis.

CS: So what were you rehearsing just now?
Black: That was nothing short of the finale of this epic. Big sprawling scene. A hug. It's a powerful hug. This hug we got goin', it's like a three-page hug. There's never been such an extended hug.

CS: Like the "Lord of the Rings" 10-minute extended hug?
Black: I'm one of the few who really enjoyed all three endings of the trilogy. (laughter) I was not tired of it. I was not like, "End already." But no, it won't be like that. It'll be much funnier than that. I don't want to give away the ending. We are just ending it. We say our goodbyes, wrapping it up with a bow.

CS: Is there room for a "Year Two"?
Black: We would have to skip to like the year 2000. That would be lame you can't skip to 2000. The Year Two not enough happened in year two. But "Year One: Part Two"? Yeah, we'd barely scratched the surface of the Biblical source material.

CS: Michael said he had a hard time with the way you have to talk in this for example, that was a text book suicide.
Black: I think it is safer to leave it with early Toro stuff, if you try to tackle Christianity or any of the other religions it gets to spicey all of a sudden.

CS: You can make fun of the Old Testament no problem.
Black: I don't know why. It doesn't seem right.

CS: Are you saying that Jews have a better sense of humor than the other religions?
Black: No matter what I say I'll get in trouble, so I'm going to say nothing. I've already said way too much.

CS: This movie is like the series of "Road to..." comedy, so which one would you be, the Bing or the Bob?
Black: Oh, yeah. I gotta be the Bob. Bob was the ham-fisted knucklehead. Bing was the classy good-looking kid. He was never a kid in those movies. I sing, they both sang.

CS: Have you ad-libbed lines that you realized you couldn't say because it doesn't exist yet?
Black: Oh God, every day. Yesterday, what did I say? We're forbidden, while we're here in Sodom, to go into this room, it's called the "Holiest of Holies," where the Gods are in the room, supposedly, and if you go in there, you'll be totally vaporized, unless you're the High Priest. He's the only one allowed to go in there and talk to the gods. And I went in there, and the King and the Queen were there, and I was busted, and I said, "Oh, I was just looking, for the crapper." But you're not allowed to say "crapper," because the "crapper" doesn't exist. Of course the crapper is based on Sir Thomas Crapper, inventor of the first toilet. (laughter) So we changed it to, "I was looking for the grunt hole." Sometimes it is okay, when you set up the rule never say anything that I mean English wasn't invented back then so every word you say is breaking the rule but try to keep it back in that time period. Once in awhile you zing in a new thing and it is extra funny so it is about picking the places you get modern. Grunt holes are not modern, grunt holes they've had since the beginning of time.

CS: Does that mean you have to drop some really funny lines?
Black: You know, that's what it's all about. It's all about resisting the urge to always try and be extra. Save it. Better to have five big laughs, than 20 medium-sized laughs. That's what I always say. I've never said that before. (laughter)

CS: Have you frolicked with any of the animals here?
Black: Yeah, we've got a full on petting zoo because apparently back in Biblical times the animals were weird looking. We've got like little miniature cows that look like dogs, really furry. I'm sorry you guys didn't get sweet extra roles. I know you were going to be in the movie and then you got short changed.

CS: What's next for you?
Black: I've got a couple things brewing, but I can't say right now because it is not a done it would be foolish for me to spill the beans. My next gig is going with Kyle to England to do these music festivals. We're going to play Redding and Leeds, and this Irish one I can't remember the name of.

CS: Isn't there like hundreds of thousands of people at Redding?
Black: It's going to be scary, because the headliner is Metallica. We come on right before Metallica. (laughter) That seems like that could be a dicey crowd of people looking for hard metal, when we come out we better bring some spicy comedy to do battle with the lords of rock.

CS: Do you still get nervous playing for 150,000 people?
Black: Still? I've never played for that many people. It's not 100,000, is it? Yeah, but it's broken up. Like here there are 50,000 and then there are smaller tents around. It is going to be a sh*tload of people. But we will be up on a Jumbotron. They say to just play to one person in the front row and the whole audience will reap the benefit of your rock.

CS: Are you going to do anything more with Michel Gondry?
Black: I hope so. I sure did have a good time working with him. I love the artistic experimentation being with him in the workshop of the laboratory, but Michel marches to the beat of his own strange French drum. I don't know what he's going to do, he's very unpredictable. If he approached me I would say yeah let's do it anytime. That's what she said.

CS: I know you're a gamer. What've you been playing lately?
Black: I'm against video games. I don't think they are good for the brains of our youth, but sometimes I will go ahead and experiment with them just to see what needs to be destroyed. Lately, I've been playing a lot of "Guitar Hero III." I'm so mad at "Guitar Hero III" right now, because I made it all the way to Tom Morello, before you can go on to other famous guitar players. Tom Morello on HARD level. Which is f*cking impossible. It's infuriating, because I've played it like 30 times in a row, you get sick of the song, and you just want to get to get to the rest of the Hard level, and you can't do it until you pass Tom Morello. So then I got sick of it and I brought in Michael, who is a wunderkind, don't know if you knew. He's like a savant. He hits every note and he's lightning fast, but even he couldn't get past him. With me in his ear yelling "NOW use the weapon!" (laughter) The two of us together, he did it five times in a row and he fought valiantly. Tom Morello on hard, he's unstoppable.

CS: Is it hard to play your own song on "Guitar Hero"?
Black: We've got a song in the game, and once you do that, that's the peak. That's bigger than a cover of "Rolling Stone," to get your song on "Guitar Hero III." (laughter)

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