Jack Black on Parenting

The hilarious star of School of Rock and the new animated film Kung Fu Panda opens up about the joys of parenting

Jack Black on ParentingThere’s something very appealing about Jack Black. Moms responded to his romantic turn in The Holiday while dads appreciate the actor’s cool, slacker vibe in films like High Fidelity and School of Rock. Now your kids will be begging to sign up for martial arts classes after seeing Black’s punchy, paunchy panda in Kung Fu Panda. In the animated comedy, Black voices Po, a clumsy noodle-shop waiter that gets an unexpected chance to turn his kung fu dreams into reality. We chatted to Black about the film and about his most important role — being a dad. (Son Samuel is two and Black and his wife Tanya Haden are expecting their own family sequel soon.)

On his inner panda-ness

“Po is like a younger version of me. Po is kind of a dreamer — daydreaming and positive — but also kind of insecure in that he doesn’t have all the kung fu skills. That reminds me of my early days when I was having fun with the theatre and acting but also insecure because I didn’t have a lot going on career-wise.”

What is most surprising about being a dad

“Well, you can’t really prepare for how much you’re going to love this new creature that comes into your life. I didn’t know that I had it in me. All the feelings and warmth — my heart got bigger I think.”

On juggling a heavy film schedule and a family

“It’s a challenge. We’ve been blessed. We can afford to get some help, you know, when it’s extra hard. But, I’m lucky that I can have the family with me on location whenever we go out of town. They come with me and I get to see Sammy every morning before I go to work and before he goes to sleep usually.”

On making films for kids

“I guess I definitely feel more comfortable doing movies that are, you know, strictly for a family oriented audience. I don’t feel insecure about that at all anymore. Like I might’ve before gone, “Oh no, that’s going to hurt my indie cred in
the rock world.’ I don’t really care about that now.”

In their library

“I read him a little Dr. Seuss. But I like the ones that have a little rhythm to them. There’s one called Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton that I really get jamming to.”

His favourite animated film

“My favourite performance in an animated film is probably Robin Williams in Aladdin. I thought he was so awesome as The Genie. That was like one of my favourite things he’s ever done, for sure. And when I was a kid, I really loved [Disney’s] Fantasia and this Italian movie called Allegro Non Troppo [a Bruno Bozzetto
animated parody]. I was a big animation buff as a kid. I wanted to be an animator for a while.”

On kung-fu fighting

“I didn’t learn any kung fu moves in preparation for this film. But I passed the obligatory one year of karate when I was about eight and then I also did a couple years of judo in high school. I actually won a trophy in a judo tournament but I think it might have been because I was the heaviest of all the kids in the competition. I might have used that to my advantage.”

Kung Fu Panda, co-starring Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan opens across Canada on June 6.

Comments are closed.