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Jack Black Discusses the Magic of THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

Jack Black Discusses the Magic of THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

“Jazz sax aficionado. 1950’s warlock. With Cate Blanchett as my best friend witch across the street. Eli Roth–I’m going to be able to throw motherf***ing invisible energy fireballs. This is happening!”

That, in a self-proclaimed nutshell, is why Jack Black stars in the new family friendly chiller The House With a Clock in Its Walls. Though he wasn’t familiar with the source material, a series of novels by John Bellairs with illustrations by Edward Gorey, Black heard the names of Roth and Blanchett attached, and remembers the talk with his agent: “I was like ‘What? Can we just say ‘Yes’ without reading the script?’ She said ‘No, you’ve got to read it.'”

While there are multiple books, Black is only signed for one movie so far. “The hope is always that they’ll come begging for more,” he says.”But, you know, you let the chips fall where they may…I’ve never done a sequel. Well, I did jump into NeverEnding Story Part 3, but that is the movie that never needs to be seen. And I don’t think you can get it on DVD, video tape, or anything. It’s gone. It’s been scrubbed from the universe. Oh, wait! Kung Fu Panda 1, 2, 3. OK, never mind. Wrong! I was wrong.”

Talk of sequels gets him passionate, as he rails against the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. “Sons of bitches!” he exclaims. “Man, they always gotta do it. I thought that Avengers was kind of a cheat. I went in there because I feel like they leaked the story, like ‘This is the final movie of the Avengers franchise.’ And I went in there thinking here comes the grand finale, and then at the end, you were like, ‘What the…’ ? I was angry. I’m not going to say livid, but I was feeling like ‘You know what? This is going to backfire. No one’s going to go see this movie.’ And then, of course, it made $2 billion, so what the hell do I know?”

Black had a brief brush with comic-book superhero status when he at one point was going to star in a Green Lantern movie. Some have assumed he’d have played a more comedic Lantern like G’Nort, but he doesn’t think so. “Who’s the main one? I was Hal Jordan.”  He regrets that it never happened, saying, “Robert Smigel wrote a hilarious script. But it’s a shame, because it was a really fun read, and I recommend it to anyone that gets their hand on it. Give it a look-see, because there’s some good, genuine yuks in there.” As far as the one that did happen, he remembers a moment when “one time I saw Ryan Reynolds at an Equinox gymnasium, and we locked eyes just for a moment, and there was a little head-nod of appreciation. There were no words exchanged, but a little ‘sup, but we were just two ships passing.”

In The House With a Clock in Its Walls, however, he gets to one-up Reynolds’ Deadpool 2 scene with baby legs by having a full-on baby body at a key moment. “He stole Hal Jordan from me,” says Black, “So it’s only right that I steal baby-body from him. I think it’s tit-for-tat. I think it’s tat-for-tit.” The baby body is a scene stealer, but surprisingly, it’s not actually Black. “That thing–that creature–is never me,” he says. “It looks like it’s me, because it’s so well made, and I’d love to take credit for that performance. The only thing about it that’s actually me is the voice. Dude, that face is so life-like. It’s incredible. They’re magicians.”

Black also praises the production design, saying, “We wandered around the set between takes, staring at the walls and all of the things, all the knick-knacks, and the architecture. It was a thing to behold. Yeah, it had over 100 clocks in one of the rooms alone. They were all rad antiques–Satanic-looking clocks.” The house was also filled with creepy animatronics, many of which came from Steven Spielberg’s personal collection. “He has a legit museum-level quality collection of automatons,” Black says. “Antique, beautiful machines. Those things are like crazy Rolexes on the inside. They’ve got mechanical guts going for days.”

One thing onscreen that is real is Black’s saxophone playing, which Blanchett’s character ridicules. “I don’t really know how to play saxophone,” Black admits, “but my sister is a real pro. She’s a consummate sax aficionado.  So she taught me the basics, and I really just tried to play my best, and that’s how it came out. It’s pretty stanky. But I think you’ll notice that there are some tasty licks later on.”

Up next for the actor-musician is a Tenacious D web series. “It’s a six-part mini-web series on YouTube. Ten-minute nuggets. Musical comedy nuggets. Because we figured out that all of the best movies are post-apocalyptic adventures. Road Warrior, The Matrix, Terminator–are objectively the best movies ever made. Everyone agrees on that. Literally everyone agrees. And we were like, we need to throw our hat in the ring, and make our post-apocalyptic movie, and also our rock opera. So it’s kind of like a mixture of Road Warrior, Pink Floyd: The Wall, and The Wizard of Oz.”

One place you won’t see the D, unfortunately, is at their formerly annual L.A.-based music and comedy show Festival Supreme, which ran for four years and Black now says is done. “We had so much fun with that fest, but it never caught fire,” he says. “It’s only you and a handful of others that ever came.”

The House With a Clock in Its Walls opens Friday nationwide.

Images: Universal

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