[JPL] Jack Black talks 'Tropic Thunder' and how he got the girl

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Sat Aug 16 17:25:17 EDT 2008


Jack Black talks 'Tropic Thunder' and how he got the girl
By Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:08/15/2008 07:53:27 PM MDT

They teach it in Interviewing 101: Find common ground with your subject. 
But when your subject is rich, famous, plump and happy Jack Black, that 
might be tricky. Do your homework and there, in the details of his 2006 
wedding to cellist Tanya Haden, is the hook.
    ''You know, the toughest interview I've ever had was with your 
    Black takes the bait. His father-in-law? The legendary jazz bassist 
Charlie Haden. You need to bone up on your jazz before talking to 
Charlie Haden. Otherwise, he has you for lunch. Superficial ''that time 
you worked with Pat Metheny'' questions won't do.
    ''Man, don't just bring your Metheny game to a Charlie Haden 
interview,'' Black laughs. ''Believe me, I did some research, too. Are 
you kidding me? I wanted to marry his daughter. I watched all 10 hours 
of that Ken Burns jazz documentary. But I'm still a novice. I know 
better than to broach the subject.''
    Black got the girl, and now they have two kids. And when Charlie 
Haden, who just turned 71, cut a CD of the traditional folk music he was 
raised on, a ''Charlie Haden with Family'' CD, guess whom he got to sing.
    ''Fare thee well, Ol' Joe Clark, fare thee well I saaaaay,'' the 
singing half of Tenacious D belts out. ''Fare thee well, OLD Joe Clark. 
I'm goin' 'way to staaaaay."
    "A bluegrass standard, a classic. I've never sung that style before, 
but I felt I was channeling my own hickory-flavored ancestors for that.''
    The CD will be out at the end of the month, Black says, just in time 
for his 39th birthday.
    Black sounds positively ebullient, even at the end of a long day of 
interviews about his new movie, ''Tropic Thunder.'' It's a big-budget, 
raunchy comedy about movie stars trapped in a Vietnam War tale whose 
filming becomes all too real. Black couldn't be further from the 
character he plays, Jeff Portnoy, an obese, substance-abusing comic 
trapped in a series of flatulent cross-dressing comedies because that's 
all Hollywood wants from him.
    ''Look, a lot of him is me, obviously,'' Black says. ''I haven't 
done multiple-character comedies that are all about farting. But I do 
fart in some of my movies, and I am fat, in, well, pretty much all my 
movies. So I understand this guy. There's a little Chris Farley-John 
Belushi, a little angry Tom Sizemore in there, too. I've phased the 
excess partying out of my life. But the guy is not a long trip for me to 
    No DeNiro ''Method'' stuff here, Black insists. ''Yeah, I gained 
weight for the part. Sure.''
    It was a demanding movie, never more so than when Black's character 
slips into withdrawal and has to be strapped across a water buffalo.
    Black is totally down with the New Outrageousness, the style that 
''Tropic Thunder'' was filmed in. Raw language, substance abuse as a 
source of comedy, an actor in blackface (Robert Downey Jr.), this is a 
movie that's out there, and Black loves it.
    ''Let's offend EVERYBODY, and then nobody'll be offended.''
    ''Tropic'' is earning enthusiastic reviews, as is Black, who, Box 
Office Magazine says, is ''at last reminding audiences of why they 
thought 'School of Rock' was so funny.''
    No wonder Black is so good-natured, so far removed from the 
comically tortured funnyman he plays in the film. Happy at work, happy 
at home? Well, just so long as he does his jazz/folk homework. He laughs 
at that.
    ''I'm golden, man,'' he says. ''But you? You need to study your 
Charlie Haden.''


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