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October 17, 2003 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-17

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Arts Life

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10/17

2003

72

for a couple of years and dropped out,
hiding it from his dad.
"I wasn't a real good student," he said.
There was, at the time, support from
friends. And friendship remains a
theme in his work and his life. On a
Tenacious D tune, he sings, simply,
"Friendship is rare."
One friend is writer and actor Mike



A Born Rocker

Not good with any other offer. Expires 10/31/03. I
a

4

e is Jack Black, the wild
man with the great pipes
from the satirical rock duo
Tenacious D.
He is Jack Black, the actor with the
vivid, scene-stealing roles in High Fideli ty
and Orange Coun ty , bumped awkwardly
to leading man in Shallow Hal.
Now, he is Jack Black, 34, shooting
the breeze about growing up in
Hermosa Beach and Santa Monica,
Calif; talking about why his new movie,
School of Rock, is "my Cuckoo's Nest"; and
singing the Torah portion of his bar
mitzvah at Temple Akiba in Culver City.
Yes, this wild man of rock 'n' roll is
Jewish, the son of two rocket scientists
who split up when he Was 10 and later
divorced. But his parents "were always
very supportive," Black once said in an
online interview. "I never had to worry
about them."
"the first kid movie
School of Rock
that parents will like more than their
children," wrote Roger Ebert — is about
a hapless rocker (in one scene, he takes a
stage dive but no one in the audience
catches him) who is fired from his band
and falls into a job as a fifth-grade sub-
stitute teacher at a fancy private school.
In a music class, he hears the kids on
their instruments — predictable and
passionless. So he teaches them
Hendrix and Zeppelin and The Who.
The story is about talented young-
sters finding out early that they can
play, they can sing, that they're good.
Who would've thought that the anti-
establishment rebellion of rock music
could become the moral of the story
for an inspirational family film?

"revved up" as a child was acting and
music, including some improv games
after the family's Passover seders.
(Jewish actress Sascha Knopf, who had
a co-starring role in Shallow Hal, men-
tioned in an interview that she and
Black entertained themselves by singing
Passover songs on the set.)
Black's persona and humor have been

Black knew he was good in the ninth
grade, that there was a voice and a
rocker's attitude. He auditioned for a
part in Pippin, the school play.
"I remember singing "Glory" and
belting it out. Later, a couple of girls
said to me, 'You really have a great
singing voice.'" That was it. Girls.
Black was a singer.
In fact, Black recently told a Scripps-
Howard newspaper chain interviewer
that the only thing that got him

Jack Black: "This is my crowning achievement, my run for the border"

compared to the late comic actors John
Belushi and Chris Farley. With Blues
Brother Belushi, he shares the love of
music. With Farley, there's the take-no-
prisoners, anything for a laugh bearing.
With all three, there's the explosiveness:
intense, all-or-nothing energy.
There's also the weight issue, though
a trimmed-down Black is not anywhere
near Belushi's or Farley's heft.
He addresses it in the movie during a
sensitive scene with a big, heavenly
voiced young girl who doesn't want to
perform because she's self-conscious.
Black quietly tells her about Aretha
Franklin: "She's a large lady."
Black acknowledges his own struggle.
"I've had problems with my weight,"
he said. "When I'm talking to Tomika
in the movie, I'm not being funny."
It's easy chatting with Black. He's
open and friendly. After graduating
from the artsy Crossroads School in
Santa Monica, Black attended the
University of California, Los Angeles,

White, who authored Orange County
and School of Rock and co-stars in the
new film. The two came up in the
business together and were neighbors in
the Hollywood Hills.
"I wrote this movie for Jack and
wouldn't have done it if he wasn't in it,"
said White, who has turned out scripts
for the film The Good Girl and TV's
Dawson's Creek and Freaks and Geeks.
"Jack's image is as a crazy; party animal,
but there's this sweemess, a teddy bear."

Performance Piece

Black is calling School of Rock his
Cuckoo's Nest, a reference to the 1975
Jack Nicholson picture, "because that's
my favorite movie of all time."
His demeanor is often compared to
Nicholson's. On the Tenacious D album,
there's a cut called "Drive-Thru," in
which Black attempts to order "just four
nuggets" instead of six ("take the six
nuggets and throw two of them away")
at a fast-food restaurant. It's reminiscent

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