Jack Black Belt

Kung Fu Master

"Kung Fu Panda" opens nationwide this weekend starring Jack Black as Po, the cuddly bumbling Panda obsessed with being a Kung Fu hero like the Furious Five.  Cine Movie sat down with Jack Black at a recent publicity event in Beverly Hills. 

Q:  Seth Rogen said you were perfect for the role of a panda because you have panda-eque qualities.  Do you agree?

Jack:   Yeah!  I feel like I'm panda-eque.  We are both rolley polley, cuddly, furry AND my beard has black and white in it now that I'm getting older.  So I'm like a panda in that way.

Q:  Was this role a way to live out your kung fu fantasies?

Jack:  In a way, it was my living out my kung fu fantasy.  When I was a child, I took one year of obligatory karate and I believe I graduated to a yellow belt and then I quit.  Don't know why I quit.  Then I did some judo and believe I made it to the green belt but never kung fu and I always wanted to do kung fu. 

I had seen the movies with Bruce Lee and the great television series with Mr. Carradine.  I've always been really interested in the mystical art of kung fu, the most wise of martial arts.  So this was my chance to explore that world.

Q:  Could you break a board?

Jack:  With my mind.  I don't have to use my hands.  It's the highest level of kung fu.
Q:   Po the Panda has a catch phrase of "skadoosh" which you came up with.  How much were you allowed to improve?

Jack:  I was allowed to go crazy.  I would do what's on the page as written but they encouraged me to explore all the different things, which I did.  I don't know how much they used but they did use "skadoosh".  So I have to take some credit... some writing credit!

Q:  What was it like not being able to use your entire body like you did in Nacho Libre?
Black:  I did use my bjackblackpanda_r1_c1ody an awful lot, actually.  They're filming us during our vocal recordings and they use it for reference.  And to get the proper sounds, I would really do the things that I was supposed to be doing.   Like if I was supposed to be tired from running, I would run around.... it was very method acting that way.

Q: During the development of the story, one of the film's directors was influenced by your Tenacious D song ,"Cosmic Shame."

Jack:  That's what he said to me too.  I suspect he said that to get me to do the movie.

Producer Melissa Cobb intercedes and confirms that the crew did listen to his song very early on.

Melissa:  He wanted the crew to understand the essential dilemma of Po, which is really explained well in that song.

Jack:  The idea in the song is about following your heart.  Sometimes you'll follow your heart and it wont lead to anything BUT you have to try.  You have to try because if you don't, you'll always regret not chasing your dreams.  It's a theme that I was exploring before this movie. 

Q:   Kung Pu Panda's dilemma mirrors Jack Black's real life problem early on in his career.

Jack: Po becomes the Dragon Warrior when he realizes he doesn't have to imitate his heroes.  He just has to be himself and be the best he can be and that would make him a master of his craft.   For me...Jack Black...I didn't really have a real career going on until I found my own voice because for many years I imitated other actors and comedians that I loved.  It wasn't until I started writing my own scenes and music and finding my own voice that I became a Master (jokingly) of my craft. 

Q:  You've played a shark in "Shark's Tale" and now a panda, what's next?

Jack:  I'd like to be a winged creature like an eagle although I kind of was an eagle in Nacho Libre or I had eagle powers.  So maybe next I'd like to be a chee-TAH.   It's always been my favorite animal because of it's speed.  The fastest of all creatures.  My favorite superhero is Flash because he's the fastest.  He runs the speed of light.  I don't know why I like the fastest of all things because I'm certainly not the fastest.

Q:  What films will you be shooting next?

Jack:  There's an impending strike so I don't want to mess around. 

Q; Think it'll happen?

Jack:  I hope not. 

No cheetah or Flash roles are in the near future for Jack but catch him in "Kung Fu Panda" this Friday and later this summer in Ben Stiller directed comedy, "Tropic Thunder".


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