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Jack Black’s Naked Truth: Laid Bare in ‘Margot,’ RoboCopping a Feel in ‘Be Kind’

[IMG:L]In Margot at The Wedding, audiences will get to see an as-yet-unrevealed side of big screen wild man Jack Black. No, we’re not talking about his dramatic side–that’s been on prominent display from 1999’s Jesus’ Son to 2005’s King Kong. We’re talking about his ass, which was apparently ready for its close-up in the serio-comic dysfunctional family film in which Black co-stars with Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Sporting short-shorn platinum blonde locks, Black sat down with Hollywood.com to expose himself even further–figuratively, we learned with relief.

Hollywood.com: I have to ask about the bleached blonde hair first. That’s for Tropic Thunder, right?
Jack Black:
This is for Tropic Thunder. It is the director’s vision. It’s his choice. To be fair though, it’s usually much blonder. The roots are growing out because I’m done with the hair. Well, I still have a couple more days of filming, but I’ll be wearing wigs the rest of the way out. This is also the director’s vision. No one is straying from Ben Stiller‘s vision. He rules with an iron vision stick.

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[IMG:R]HW: This is not the first time you’ve had a mustache in a movie. How long does it take to grow the ‘stache?
JB:
You’re right. Now that you mention it I had a mustache in Nacho Libre. Right now–how long has it been since I’ve shaved? Only a week. Does that look like a good ‘stache? No. I’m about a month, to grow a good substantial mustache, a robust ‘stache. Robust.

HW: Audiences by now are used to crossing over from comedy to drama. How about Hollywood? Do you get a lot of dramatic offers, beyond all the comedy offers I’m sure you get?
JB:
I get some cool offers for drama-type stuff, yeah. But mostly no. Mostly it’s comedies and I’m not going to get paid to do drama any time soon. I do it for the love of the game. In this case it was the director. I really wanted to work with [writer/director] Noah [Baumbach]. I really loved The Squid and the Whale. I’ll do some more movies for free if they’re good, too. I’m warning you. So consider yourself duly warned.

HW: How do you make yourself cry for those emotional scenes?
JB:
You just try to be open and think about what if this was really happening. I like to do the ‘what if’ exercise. You just say to yourself, right before they start filming, ‘Okay, what if this was real? What if this was really happening?’ I try to go with that.

HW: You don’t have a traumatic memory that you pull up?
JB:
I don’t. That never works for me. It always backfires. When I cry the easiest is when I’m in the movies, if I let myself. If there’s something emotional I’m a sucker for the cheese. If the cheesy strings come up and the underdog does the impossible and he feels good I’ll start [to get there].

[IMG:L]HW: Do you have to hit a comedy mute button when you’re doing a dramatic role? This one has a bit of comedy, but do you have to rein in your desire to take a scene in a funny direction?
JB:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it also helps that the writing is so good and also not messing around with the script at all. I’m not improvising at all in this movie, and so that’s usually when the comedy wheels will really start spinning, when I start improvising. I had to keep it more real. I always ask myself if this is really how I would behave.

HW: The naked scene in Margot: was it in the script or was it something that Noah sort of mentioned a couple of days before the shoot?
JB:
No, it was in the script. That was one of the things that when I read I was like, ‘Really? F*ck. Alright, I’ll do it anyway, despite that.’ I’ve shown a lot of my ass in movies past, but never the whole ass. Never a drama ass. This was a full moon. You’ve got to be willing to make the sacrifices.

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HW: Has it piqued your interest in doing more nude scenes in movies?
JB:
I’m going to be doing pretty much all hardcore pornography. This is a gateway to that [laughs].

HW: Is your first day on a set with someone like Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh any different than the first day with, like, a Will Ferrell or a Ben Stiller?
JB:
Yeah.

[IMG:R]HW: Does it do different things to your head?
JB:
It does different things. When it’s a boy’s club, that can be more relaxing. You can have more fun maybe because there’s not…but then when there’s these incredible actresses that are really beautiful and intimidating, it’s fun in a different way. Nicole was pretty personable when we were hanging out and talking. She was pretty open to any subject. Like, I tiptoed around the [StanleyKubrick thing and she was totally into talking about Kubrick. I didn’t talk about anything else spicy.

HW: Did your character remind you of anyone that you know? Could you identify with a guy of that age who was still struggling?
JB:
Yeah. He did remind me of a couple of people that I thought about when I was doing it. I mean, I know a lot of people or struggling artists that didn’t catch the train, really talented people. You see them around all the time that for one reason or another … and it’s easy to imagine myself having not gotten the lucky career that I’ve had. But when I tried to do it in the voice of specific people I knew it kind of went flat. I’m better at just being in my own voice and imagining myself in that situation.

HW: You’ve kind of specialized in these less ambitious characters–this guy’s ambitions were frustrated, anyway–but you’ve been pretty successful from a relatively young age. How do you think you’ve been able to tap into these loser/slacker types when you haven’t really been that guy?
JB:
Well, because I wasn’t really that successful from a young age. I got a part when I was in my twenties, but for the most part I struggled through the twenties and it wasn’t until I was thirty that I kind of got my career going. Throughout my twenties I saw all these other people skyrocketing up all around me. So I know how that is.

HW: How strong were your ambitions during that time? Were you driven, frustrated… ?
JB:
I always wanted to be an actor or a musician. I wasn’t bitter though. I was still young enough. In your twenties you don’t have to accomplish anything. I didn’t feel that pressure so much. I was just like kind of having fun and if I had to go back and live at my mom’s it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t think of it as that huge of a failure. If I had to go back there now at 38 then it would be a crushing blow.

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[IMG:L]HW: Be Kind Rewind looks hilarious. What were some of the most fun movies to remake on the cheap in that?
JB:
I loved doing Ghostbusters, Rush Hour, Driving Miss Daisy, Robocop

HW: Did you play Robocop?
JB:
Yes. I play Robocop. It’s all [Michele] Gondry designs. Basically car fenders for my legs. A blow dryer for the gun and holster. But he’s brilliant in many ways and he thought of all of it. My character works in a junkyard and so all of the stuff was kind of built with junkyard parts.

HW: It seems like something that’s could go over well with mass audiences. Is it going to have a broad comedy appeal or still hew closely to Gondry’s niche audience?
JB:
It’s very, very quirky and funny and it could go over well. It might stay in the art-house world. I don’t know. I know that when we were making it we were swinging for the fences and having a really good time, but he’s an unusual director with a very unorthodox style. So I try not to spend too much time thinking how broad the appeal will be.

HW: What do you mean unorthodox?
JB:
In the sense of like traditional big budget comedies you’re going to have all the shots – you’ll cover a scene from all the angles. Over the shoulders. He’s not doing that. He has a very interesting way of shooting scenes and not a ton of coverage and also some things fall to the wayside. Just straight-up plot and story are not always the most important thing to him, as much as a feeling or an amazing image. Very creative and original doesn’t always translate to big box office gold.

HW: Is that approach freeing as an actor?
JB:
It was. It was cool. At the same time on both [Be Kind and Margot] I had a lot of times where I was like “We’re done? We’re done with the scene? We didn’t get the nostril shot. Maybe we missed some of my good acting from ass angle.” [Pause] Well, we got that.

HW: What was it like singing “What’s New Pussycat” in Korean for The Simpsons?
JB:
That was fun. You saw that? I’m bummed because I set my Tivo to record it and I didn’t put a minute later and it cut off the credits and I knew that my singing was in the credits and I wanted to listen to myself to see how it came out.

[IMG:R]HW: The whole acting thing is just a hobby for you and I know music is your main gig. What’s next for Tenacious D?
JB:
I love The D and the music, but it’s not true–acting is the main thing. We’re writing new songs for the big massive comeback masterpiece album. It should be powerful. I really love the first two albums even though the second album didn’t make as much as the first one. I don’t want the quality to go down for number three. So look for that around, I don’t know, 2012.

HW: You’ve also got a track on the new “Guitar Hero.” How cool is that and what do you think of that phenomenon as a music game?
JB:
Yeah. It’s great. I have to get it. I want to play it. It’s kind of cool. It’s a fun game, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with playing guitar. You can be really good at playing that game and horrible at playing guitar.

HW: And now you’ve gone from Nicole Kidman to Tom Cruise. He has a cameo in Tropic Thunder, right?
JB:
I’m going to say that it’s slightly larger than a cameo. I think that it’s more of a cram-eo. He’s cramming more into that cameo slot. He’s got a few scenes. It’s not just one scene. A true cameo is just one scene, right? It’s one day. He’s working a few days on it.

HW: What’s the inside scoop on Tom Cruise as far as what he’s really like?
JB:
I did meet him at the read-through, but I have not had any scenes with him. I don’t have any scenes with him on this movie, but from what I’ve heard he brings the thunder.

HW: What’s lined up after Thunder?
JB
: I’m going to do a Harold Ramis movie with Michael Cera. I’m very excited to work with him. It’s called The Year One. It’s kind of like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Meaning of Life where it’s an examination a little bit about how ridiculous the whole Biblical tales are, and how it’s probably all bullshit in a funny way.

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