War Stories: Jack Black’s ‘Tropic Thunder’ Tales

Jack Black had plenty of silly stories to tell us when we met up with him at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons to chat about his new movie Tropic Thunder. So funny in fact that we’ll go ahead and let him do all talking ….


Hollywood.com: You had some great lines in this movie, any of them your own?

Jack Black:

The script was super funny and I didn’t go off the rails too often. Yeah, when I was tied up to the tree…[do] you know what that was? That was an homage to the urban legend about Sylvester Stallone going to his trailer with like some lady. They were having sex in his trailer and as the legend goes, he still wore his microphone and the sound design guy turned up the volume and everyone outside could hear. And he was like “Alright stroke the shaft, cradle the balls. Say my name.” [laughs]. That’s been going around for decades [like] the gerbil story …

HW: You get to pay homage to Eddie Murphy with your character’s trailer in the film. Do you think he will be offended by The Fatties franchise?


I don’t think he will be offended because the whole movie is about making fun of movies and since we have offended every type of movie genre I think he’ll say, “Oh, alright I made the cut of things…” He’s not the only one who does multiple character comedies. Yeah, I love Eddie Murphy. I think he’s great. I thought that trailer was pretty funny. I felt like someone might offer me that movie to really make it, Fatties Fart 2. Just skip the first one.

HW: How did Robert Downey Jr. rate as a black man?


Downey was pretty good…I mean that’s for everyone else to judge. An incredible performance I’d say because he had the hardest part, being a guy, disguised as a guy, disguised as another guy. He always had like three layers of characters going, but it is kind of a tour de force. Whenever you have to play an incredible actor, when your role is a genius actor, how do you play that? It is not easy. I think he will get mad props for this movie.

HW: Even though there is a lot of slap stick comedy, do you think there is something serious to be said here?


Totally. The bar was raised pretty high after Borat came out, because it wasn’t just funny it was like oh my god, it was bringing up all kinds of serious issues and this movie totally touches on those things too; racism in the movie industry, homophobia in the movie industry and drug addiction. All these lines you are not supposed to cross in movies and we really blew open a bunch of taboos, which is kind of cool.

HW: What action movies did you grow up watching?


The first one I remember seeing was Apocalypse Now and that was great it was very stoney and I remember that Robert Duvall was hilarious in it with his Nepalm in the morning speech. That is probably the best one and there is Platoon, awesome. I stole one of the guy’s in Platoon’s voice. You know the guy who talked like that (in a hoarse voice)? He talked like that he had a hoarse voice and somehow that meant he was in Nam. And I used that for my character within the movie, Tropic Thunder. I only say one line in that character before shit starts to blow up around us. A fun fact for ya.

HW: I heard people were dropping like flies on the set. How bad did things get?


It was hot and muddy. It was not easy conditions, but that was the trade off because when we weren’t filming we were in this gorgeous location. A couple people got bit by centipedes, which I heard isn’t pleasant. It is like getting shot by a gun apparently. You have to go to the hospital. I didn’t get bit. I got a bad sunburn on the first day and I tried to blame it on other people, but that of course was my fault. I’m no rocket scientist.

HW: Is it true that a baby water buffalo was named after you as a result of this movie?


Bertha was pregnant. I was terrified of getting on the water buffalo naked. I didn’t want to do it and then Ben [Stiller] convinced me it would be really good for the film…I did a lot of buffalo whispering, talking to her lovingly and complimenting her on her beauty and telling her we were going to be really good friends and massaging her hyde. I got on her and she was still like (makes snorting noise while shaking head from side to side). I had this feeling that she hated me and wanted to kill me and it turned out that she was pregnant and nobody knew. She had a baby and then everything was good with us after that. They named the baby Jack, because we had that special relationship so they figured that I was the father.

HW: Joking aside, how is fatherhood treating you these days with two babies?


It is great. The babes are happy and healthy. The little one is only two months old now and making some good faces. He is very like an octopus, he doesn’t have any muscles or anything, but he’s fun to look at. He’s got potential. He’s already working the eyebrows.

HW: Since you guys are all family men, what kind of trouble did you get into shooting in Hawaii?


Well I didn’t go out partying obviously. I had my family with me. I would just go after a shoot, this is going to sound boring – we had a sweet house on the beach and we rented kayaks so pretty much every night I liked to go out on a sunset kayak. It was pretty awesome.

HW: You didn’t do yoga?


We did do yoga, but once we started shooting there wasn’t much time for yoga. Ben somehow always found time to work out…I think he only sleeps two hours a night and wakes up at 4 in the morning to do his 12 mile sprint. 

Tropic Thunder opens in theaters Aug. 13, 2008