From a wannabe rock star in School of Rock, to a Mexican wrestler in Nacho Libre, Jack Black is probably the closest thing in Hollywood to a superstar clown. He’s been described as “big, obnoxious, and funny in a slightly terrifying way.”
So his role as the title character in Bernie came as a surprise to his fans: he plays a mild-mannered, church-going mortician who turns out to have some problems, and commits a grisly murder. The movie was based on a true story. “When I read it, it actually took me aback, because it’s not like any of the movies I’ve done before,” Black remembers. “There's a fear of diving into new realms and riskier material. And of course that's the stuff that ends up being the best stuff.”
Black’s big break came from High Fidelity, in which he played an obnoxious record store clerk. The role combined his talents for comedy and rock n’ roll: “It’s kind of ‘what came first, the rock or the egg?’ Acting being the egg,” he explains to Kurt Andersen, “and I don’t think I could do one without the other.” Black has been performing as part of the comedy rock duo Tenacious D with Kyle Bass since the early '90s. “Little did we know we were on our way to being the greatest rock band of all time.”
Tenacious D skewers classic stadium rock, but Black insists it does so with the dedication of a fan: “Ozzie Ozborne, Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin: these are the building blocks of my psyche.” But Black’s tastes are broad: in Studio 360, he performs a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Three Times a Lady” in the style of Bobby McFerrin (listen at 11:00) and a medley of The Who’s “Tommy” (at 12:55 and in the video below).
And Black has big dreams for a celebration of comedy rock — featuring Tenacious D, Spinal Tap, Flight of the Concords, and others. He’d call it “Festival Supreme.” Because Jack Black doesn’t think small.
Bonus Track: Jack Black’s Parenting Advice
The album cover for Tenacious D’s most recent album Rize of the Fenix features a “phoenix” that’s so explicit a phallic symbol, iTunes and Amazon pixelated the image to blur it. Black shares some advice on raising sons uncensored.
Video: Jack Black’s one-man version of The Who’s “Tommy”
Three Times a LadyArtist: Kenny J. Charles Bruno BertoneAlbum: Romantic SaxLabel: Music Digital
Go to the Mirror!Artist: The WhoAlbum: TommyLabel: Geffen
Immigrant SongArtist: Led ZeppelinAlbum: Led Zeppelin IIILabel: Atlantic Records
Rize of the FenixArtist: Tenacious DAlbum: Rize of the FenixLabel: Columbia
Big BottomArtist: Spinal TapAlbum: This is Spinal TapLabel: Universal Motown Records Group
KickapooArtist: Tenacious DAlbum: The Pick of DestinyLabel: Epic