Tenacious P JACK BLACK
GETS SERIOUS ABOUT FUNNY
MEET THE REAL
GUITAR HERO IF HE CAN MAKE IT THERE...
NYC’S JOE TORRE GETS OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE OMAHA — WE DARE YOU TO CALL
COUNTRY *For Panda, that is. Kung Fu Panda.
Jack Black is yawning. Repeatedly. He’s just ﬁnished making a music vid and now he has to promote his role in the new, big-budget animated mo ously. So Black is tired. Also obviously. But he’s behind schedule. It’s ab of one-on-one interviews to do to publicize the movie. Several of those like me. ¶ This is a toxic combination. Black is wiped out and turned o thing else. They need him to be that guy. That guy from the mock rock and Nacho Libre. That dazed and confused smart aleck whose oversiz dialogue makes him something of an animated character that’s come to all the comic energy he can muster. So, forget it writers. Black’s not goin he’s able to be funny in the ﬁrst place is due to moments just like this on all the time,” Black tells me at just after 11 p.m. my time. “The other da from me was being really loud and obnoxious. I was just kind of being q And the guy at the other end says” — and here Black starts using a vague Black. I expected something more wild and funny from you.’ But I am n quiet, shy times.” ¶ And many of those quiet, shy times come when Bl and funniest. “A lot of times, I’m sitting quietly and waiting for the inspi someone will come up and break my concentration by going, ‘Sure is co have to get away.” ¶ Having quiet time is most important to Black not i around on a ﬁlm set but in the few minutes before the director yells “A work an hour before shooting, it’s going to dissolve. It’s kind of like yo before the cameras roll. You want to serve it nice and hot. You want tha to do all your preparation before and then just reheat it in the microwa ﬁre up a bubbling mess of comedy. Instead, we’ll have to settle for lear DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda — so mouthwatering to movie audiences? Several cups of attention craving ¶ Black grew up in Hermosa Beach, neers who worked at TRW. He himself had no interest in science, nor in attention. He discovered this at the age of nine, when after dinner at a tional comedy game in which the audience can “freeze” the action in a found himself the star of the game. “That was probably the ﬁrst time I w on. I deﬁnitely knew I had to play that some more at some point. I didn TV commercials at a young age, including one for Smurfberry Crunch an age 13, came thanks to a higher power: Black had made a deal with the be on TV again. “I thought that I would be happy if the kids could just se renegotiate. I was really hungry for the laughs and the attention. I wante the inside of the crowd — there probably was some kind of insecurity tha ¶ He still does. Mainly, Black relies on the element of surprise to get a actors by playing a scene just a little differently than how they might ex it. ¶ “I don’t like to go to the director, or whoever, and say, ‘You know w as you’re saying that, the funny thing is losing all its power. So instead, and you say, ‘Let’s do another take. Let me try another one.’ Don’t even ﬁrst time. That has a good chance of surprising you, because even tho say it out loud.” ¶ Suddenly, he stops talking. I assume he’s about to ya ,'8D
deo that promotes his role as host of Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, Jack Black, the ovie Kung Fu Panda, in which he stars as a kung fu–ﬁghting panda. Obvistar of the new movie Kung Fu bout 7:30 on a Sunday evening in Los Angeles, and Black still has a, talks slew Panda about his role as e are with writers on the East Coast — sleepy writers on the East Coast, a chubby, furry animal; what it’s off. Spent. The writers, meanwhile, want — no, need — him tolikebe to be asomefunny person; and how k band Tenacious D and from the movies School of Rock, High beingFidelity, an actor is like being a chef. Joseph Guinto. ze frame and alternately melodramatic and singsong way of Bydelivering Illustration by Bower.out o life. ¶ But Black is not going to be that guy tonight. He’s alreadyTimput ng to be funny for you now. And the funny thing about that is the reason one, moments when he’s not funny at all. “People expect me to be funny ay, I was playing poker, and the guy down at the other end of the table quiet and playing the game and sometimes thinking about other things. ely Texas-sounding accent — “ ‘Man, you sure are serious over there, Jack not always funny. I’m not the life of the party all the time. I have a lot of Black is on a movie set, in the moments right before he’s at his wildest iration in a scene, and it’ll look like I’m doing nothing,” Black says. “So old today, huh? Looks like there are some clouds coming.’ And then I just in the long, tedious (and, we assume, sleepy) hours he spends waiting Action!” “Your preparation has to be fresh,” he says. “If you do all your ou’re a chef making a meal: You have to heat up the performance right at bubbling and that crispness that you get in the broiler. You don’t want wave.” ¶ But after a day of cooking, the oven is off. Black’s not going to rning his recipe. What makes Black’s comedies — likely to soon include s? As it turns out, there are just four key ingredients. ¶ Ingredient One: California, as an upper-middle-class kid, the son of two satellite engin school, for that matter. But he did want — need — to garner laughs and family friend’s house, everyone played the freeze game, an improvisaany given skit and the characters then have to change positions. Black was exposed to that kind of fun,” Black says. “I wanted it to go on and n’t know that was going to be my life, though.” ¶ Still, he did plenty of nd another for Activision’s Pitfall! video game. That gig, which he got at e Almighty that if he got the Pitfall! commercial, he’d never ask to act or ee me on TV once, that that would be enough,” Black says. “But I had to ed to stick out from the crowd. I wanted to be the fascinating person on at was driving that — so I tried to ﬁgure out ways to get people to laugh.” a laugh. On a movie set, he hopes to surprise the director and the other xpect him to, or, for that matter, than how he might expect himself to do what will be funny? If I do blah, blah, blah, blah,’ ” Black says. “Because , you just think of a funny approach and you hold that in your brain pan n say you have an idea. Then they roll the camera, and you do it for the ough you’ve thought about it, that’s the ﬁrst time you’ve heard yourself awn — again. Instead, he’s just realizing that it’s awfully hard to explain D8P(,)''/8D
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