“There’s nothing you can really do to prepare to rock. Do you prepare to eat a delicious meal? Are you hungry? Then you’re gonna eat it.”
One of the jewels of modern comedy, we should all be thankful for Jack Black. JB has been able to make both children and parents laugh together for decades now, and his infectious energy has inspired many throughout the years.
And beyond his illustrious career, the man himself as led a pretty magnificent life- from music man to movie man, and everything in between. Here are some of the most interesting and fun facts about the star.
38. No Makeup
For his role in the 2005 remake of King Kong, Black refused to wear any make-up. This decision came after he heard a fabricated rumor about Clint Eastwood never wearing makeup in his films.
37. Wigging Out
Since he wasn’t adding any make-up, Black tried to simply cut his hair in order to achieve the proper 1930s hairstyle for the movie, but to no avail. Director Peter Jackson was not a fan of this cut and forced him to wear a wig.
36. Climate Change
Understanding the danger of climate change and the importance of facing it for our world, Black has worked on the documentary series Years of Living Dangerously as a celebrity correspondent, covering the issues facing low-lying coastal areas as sea levels rise.
35. Charity Work
Red Nose Day, a program sponsored by the non-profit charity organization Comic Relief USA, changed Black’s life. He travelled to Kampala, Uganda with the charity to help children in poverty and to spread awareness of poverty around the world. The experience completely blew Black away, as it made him realize the unbelievable privilege his children enjoyed while so many others were not so lucky. He has since further dedicated himself to the charity effort.
34. Fun Times
Black gave a sly promotion for his favorite place to visit in Alaska in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. No it isn’t a place in nature—it’s a world-famous strip club in Anchorage! In the “Master Exploder” scene, there’s an actor at the bar wearing a shirt that says “Great Alaska Bush Company,” which is, of course, the name of the club.
33. Never Again
Unfortunately, while true fans may love the film, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny was a commercial flop. This discouraged Black so much that he has said he will never write another script again.
32. Sexy Inspiration
Black claims that his loveably chubby character Nacho from 2006’s Nacho Libre was partially based on the sultry Antonio Banderas. I, for one, think Nacho is way more alluring than Banderas.
31. Until Someone Knocks An Eye Out
The filming of Nacho Libre looks like it was a ball, but it wasn’t all fun and games. During one wrestling scene, Black jumped from the ring and cracked his head open on a chair. In addition to a wicked shiner, he’d need to have stitches above his right eye.
Active throughout the 1990s, Black considers his breakout role to be the 2000 film High Fidelity, in which he plays a wild record store employee. His notable performance displayed his range and he steals many scenes, like during the end when he covers Marvin Gaye’s silky smooth “Let’s Get It On.”
29. After Reconsideration
Though High Fidelity would be his breakout role, Black initially declined the role, even though it was written specifically for him. Good thing he reconsidered.
28. Stunt Double
You’ll be happy to know that Black actually did the stage dive at the end of School of Rock, but, just to be safe, they had a bunch of stuntmen out in the crowd to make sure that no one dropped him.
27. Stairway To The Band
Led Zeppelin very rarely licenses their music out for commercial purposes and this has prevented them from being featured in many films and series throughout the years. Despite this, Black and director Richard Linklater were committed to getting them on board for School of Rock. In order to convince the band, Linklater filmed Black making a direct plea to the members of the band while standing in front of 1,000 fans who were making noise at the top of their lungs in support. And I just want to take a moment to thank Zeppelin for letting me see Black crushing “The Immigrant Song” in the movie.
26. Grammy Award-Winning Musician
Black loves music, this is well known, but most people would think of his music as being purely comedic. Well, that isn’t always the case, as he actually has won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The award was won for a cover that his band Tenacious D did of the Dio song “The Last in Line,” as a part of the 2014 This Is Your Life tribute album.
25. The Name
Jack Black. What a name. It’s so simple, so straightforward, and he is such a sincere guy that it must be his real name, right? Well, close but no cigar. His actual name is Thomas Jacob Black.
24. Parents With Brains
Black’s parents were smart. How smart? Well, both of them were satellite engineers. His mother even worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.
23. Smarter Than He Seems
Black has said that he slept through two years of college at UCLA. But, hey, he went to UCLA!
22. Everyone Needs A Break
While at UCLA, he may have slept through class, but perhaps that was because he was busy with Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang. The experimental acting group was founded by, you guessed it, Tim Robbins, and he liked Black so much that he cast him in the cult comedy Bob Roberts, which ended up being his big break.
21. College Dropout
Black would ultimately drop out of university after his sophomore year in order to focus on his acting career. I’m sure the fact that he slept through all of it might have had something to do with it as well.
20. Me and My Brother Kyle Here…
It was in the Actors Gang that Black met the one and only Kyle Gass. The two had to find a way to utilize their great chemistry, which they eventually did by creating Tenacious D.
19. Role Competition
If you had to imagine who Black’s acting nemesis would be, who do you think it would be? Go ahead, think about it for a second. Got it? Well, it’s probably wrong. On the extras of the School of Rock DVD, he jokingly described the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman as his nemesis, because the two of them were often up for the same roles throughout their careers. Could you see Black playing Capote? Hoffman in Year One? If nothing else, I’d say that would be interesting.
18. Video Star
Black’s boisterous personality is perfect for music videos. He has an extensive list of credits for famous artists, appearing videos for everyone from Beck to The Eagles of Death Metal to “Weird Al” Yankovic.
17. Accidentally Selling Out
Shallow Hal may not be the worst of movies (though it’s close), but Black is on record saying that he actually regrets making the Farrelly Brothers comedy. He wanted to work with the Farrellys, but he found that the end result was not worth the work. Today, he thinks he kind of sold out in making the movie, because he got paid a boatload of money for it. Sounds a little like selling out to me, but who am I to judge?
16. Rocking and Rolling
Rock should be reckless and delicious! That is why Black considers The Who to be his favorite (and the greatest) rock band of all time, stating: “They were the first ones to ever rock HARD. The recklessness! The deliciousness!”
15. The Other Jack
Black’s wife, Tanya Haden, is a respected cellist, and is well known for her own musical prowess. Haden is one of the triplet daughters of legendary bassist Charlie Haden and has played in many bands over the years. Her latest album was with her sisters, known as The Haden Triplets, and was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records.
14. Famous Fathers
Charlie Haden is famous for playing with the Ornette Coleman Quartet, and conceptually revolutionizing harmonies for the jazz bass. Yeah, it’s safe to say that Black and Haden’s children have some serious musical genes to mine.
13. If Its Meant To Be
Jack and Tanya were married in 2006, but they first met while in high school in Santa Monica, California, 16 years prior. They each went their own way after graduating, before coming across each other again later in life, having each established their own careers.
12. Conversion For Love
Black’s mother is Jewish, and he was raised in the faith, going to Hebrew school and having a Bar Mitzvah. His parents divorced when he was 10 years old and after that, he lived with his father, though he still visited his mother frequently.
11. Famous Schooling
Black found his love for acting while taking drama classes at the Crossroad School in Santa Monica. Named after the famous Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken,” the private secondary school is highly prestigious, with a wide range of successful alumni, including Damon Wayans Jr., Gary Coleman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jonah Hill, Kate Hudson, Maya Rudolph, Michael Bay, Sean Astin, and Zooey Deschanel. We could keep going but, yeah, you get the picture.
10. Struggling Student
Before Black was enrolled in the Crossroad School he attended the Poseidon School, a private school specializing in educating children who struggle in traditional schools.
9. His Emotional Side
We’re all on board the Toy Story train and Toy Story 3 is one of those films no one should be ashamed of becoming emotional while watching. Black claims to have cried not once, not twice, but three times when he first watched the movie.
8. Keep The Faith
Black and Haden have two children together. Though he considers himself an atheist, he raises his kids in the Jewish faith, as a way to keep the culture alive.
7. Child Actor
The first acting gig that Black got was for the Activision game Pitfall! in 1982, when he appeared in the commercial for the Atari 2600 game decked out in a Safari Hat. That’s dedication—starting prep for his role in Jumanji 36 years ahead of time!
6. Homegrown Ideas
The idea for School of Rock came from Black’s actual life. When Mike White, who wrote the film, moved into Black’s apartment building, he witnessed Black’s ridiculous antics first hand. Many of these ended up in the movie, including running through the halls of the building naked and blasting his favorite classic rock at top volume.
5. Showcase Film
Though he wrote School of Rock, Mike White isn’t actually a fan of classic rock music. He chose the genre specifically because it allowed the movie to show off Black’s talents. Gotta say, I can’t quite picture School of Jazz or School of Country being quite the same—I think he made the right choice.
4. Dedication to Character
Black gained critical acclaim for his role as Bernie Tiede in the 2011 film Bernie. Tiede, a mortician, befriended and murdered an 81-year-old widow after she added him to her will and gave him access to her fortune. He is currently serving a sentence of 99 years to life in a Texas state prison. In order to properly portray the character, Black made many visits to meet the real Bernie Tiede in Telford Unit State Prison, and actually sung the gospel hymns featured in the film.
3. Best Actor
Hard work pays off, and for his dedication to portraying Bernie Tiede, Black received his second Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy, and was lauded by Roger Ebert as giving “one of the performances of the year.” That’s right, Black ain’t no one trick pony.
2. Drugs Are Bad
In his youth, Black struggled with drugs, which may have led to his trouble with traditional schooling. At only 14 years old he was already putting himself into sketchy situations by doing too much cocaine and hanging around the wrong crowd. He has said that he even stole money from his mother to support his habit, and was scared of one of his dealers that he feared for his life every time he went to school. Thankfully, he got himself out of that situation and bettered his life.
1. Losing His Brother
Jack Black’s older brother Howard was a huge inspiration for him, introducing him to rock music when he was young. Tragically, Howard passed away from HIV/AIDS when he was just 31 years old. Black has talked about how hard it was to watch his brother suffer before he passed away, saying “We were robbed of something precious.”