“I’m no Matt Damon, my goal was to be a character actor. I never thought I would get leads the way that I’ve been able to in the past two years.” Jack Black
American film and television actor and musician Jack Black is known for both the characters he portrays on the screen and as one of the forces behind the rock/comedy duo Tenacious D, which he describes as the Smothers Brothers for the Dungeons and Dragons misfits set. With his off-the-wall humor, hilarious satirical rock group Tenacious D, and numerous hit comedies under his belt, Black is a bankable star with loads of talent.
As a popular movie actor, Black is perhaps best-known to moviegoers as the greedy 1930s-era film director Carl Denham in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong (2005), and rock wannabe Dewey Finn in School of Rock (2003). For his fine starring turn as Dewey, Black won a ShoWest Convention award and earned a nomination at the Golden Globes. In 2001, he took home a Blockbuster Entertainment award for his scene-stealing, hyper-pretentious, record store clerk Barry in the blockbuster smash hit High Fidelity (2000). He is also remembered for playing roles in such films as Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking (1995) Cradle Will Rock (1999), Jesus’ Son (1999), Silverman (2001), Shallow Hal (2001), and Orange County (2002), as well as providing the voice of Zeke in the well-liked animated film Ice Age (2002). As a musician, the lead singer of Tenacious D has scored several hit singles, including “Wonderboy,” “Tribute,” and “Let’s Get it On.” Black even picked up a 2003 DVD Exclusive award for his bright work in the song “The Golden Rule Song.”
Recently appearing in Danny Roane: First Time Director (2006), Black will soon play roles in the upcoming Nacho Libre (2006), Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny (2006), The Holiday (2006, opposite Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) and the adventure comedy Them (2007). He is also scheduled to lend his voice for the animated Kung Fu Panda (2008).
Off screen, Jack Black is a libertarian and a democrat. He supports the legalization of marijuana, even referring to those who wish to keep it banned as “old f****** shrives” in the Tenacious D song “City Hall.” He was also a famous supporter of John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. presidential elections. On a more private note, one of the members of what the media refers to as the Frat Pack, Black was linked to actress/comedian Laura Kightlinger (born on June 13,1969) for several years before becoming engaged to Tanya Haden, whom he has been dating since his split from Kightlinger in 2005. The couple eloped on March 14, 2006.
Childhood and Family:
Born Thomas Black on August 28, 1969, in Hermosa Beach, California, Jack Black was raised in a middle-class Jewish family by parents Thomas W. Black and Judith C. Cohen, who were both scientists and members of a naturalist group called Family Synergy. His parents divorced when Black was 10 years old.
Jack Black, whose nicknames are JB and Jables, attended Santa Monica’s Poseidon School before moving with his family to Culver City, California, when he was a teenager. In Culver City, Black began to get into trouble and stole money from his mother to buy cocaine. He quickly realized his mistakes and volunteered for therapy. After graduating from Crossroads High School for the Arts and Sciences, Black enrolled in the University of California, in Los Angeles, where he became a member of Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang, a Los Angeles-based performance troupe. Black began his professional acting career by performing in a stage play helmed by Robbins titled Carnage, which was seen at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in 1989.
Black married girlfriend Tanya Haden on March 14, 2006.
A member of Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang, Jack Black, who made his stage debut in Robbins’ Carnage (1989), kicked of his film career in 1992 when Robbins made his directorial debut in Bob Roberts, in which Black was featured as a crazed fan of a titular folk singer turned politician (played by Robbins himself). He then landed guest roles in shows like “The Golden Palace” (1992), “Life Goes On” (1993), “Northern Exposure” (1993), and appeared as a car thief in the NBC crime drama Marked for Murder (1993). Black next hopped from film set to movie set, landing small parts in both popular and not so-popular films, including the futuristic auctioneer Demolition Man (1993), the little-seen coming-of-age feature Airborne (1993), the fantasy sequel The NeverEnding Story III (1994), Waterworld (1995), the comedy Bye Bye, Love (1995), The Cable Guy (1996), Mars Attacks (1996), The Fan (1996), the action thriller The Jackal (1997) and the big-budget action thriller Enemy of the State (1998). He had a small, but memorable, turn as Craig Poncelet in Robbins’ acclaimed death row-set drama Dead Man Walking (1995), starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. No strangers to TV roles, the actor also had a number of guest starring roles in such series as “All-American Girl” (1995), “Pride & Joy” (1995), “The X Files” (1995), “Touched by an Angel” (1995), “The Single Guy” (1995), and had recurring roles in “Picket Fences” (1995-96) and “HBO’s Mr. Show” (1995-96).
When Black wasn’t perfecting his craft, he was at band practice developing the spoof duo Tenacious D, which he formed in 1994 with guitarist-actor Kyle Gass. Along with Gass, Black appeared as Tenacious D in the insane comedy Bio-Dome (1996) and their innovative efforts later landed the group a spot as a special musical guest on the popular “Saturday Night Live” as well as winning Tenacious D its own self-titled HBO series (1999), a three-episode comedy special featuring the band. Black also served as a creator, executive producer, writer and star.
In 1999, Black had a notable comedic turn (also with Gass) as a blundering aspiring performer in Tim Robbins-directed Cradle Will Rock, starring Hank Azaria and John Cusack. After a cameo in The Love Letter (1999), the comic actor delivered an acclaimed supporting turn as pill-popping hospital attendant Georgie in the independent movie Jesus’ Son (1999). The drama film starred Billy Crudup, Robert Michael Kelly, Torben Brooks and Dierdre Lewis. Due to his bright efforts, Black increasingly cemented his reputation as a comic.
Already having a string of film roles in his pocket, Black eventually delivered his breakthrough in 2000 when director Stephen Frears cast him in the supporting role of Barry, a loathsome record store clerk who torments his boss (John Cusack) in an adaptation of the popular Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity. Although only a member of the supporting cast, Black’s performance was one of the most memorable attributes of a film that was both commercially and critically successful. As a result, he was handed a 2001 Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Supporting Actor in a Comedy/Romance. Aside from his high-energy performance in High Fidelity, Black also enjoyed success as a musician, voicing a surprisingly adept and un-ironic version of the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get it On” for a year 2000 release. He continued the victory by penning his first major contract to star opposite Steve Zahn in the comedy Saving Silverman (2001), reportedly earning $1 million. Despite the film’s mixed reviews, Black‘s performance and his onscreen rapport with the equally gifted Zahn helped to keep the comedy buoyant.
Benefiting from his newfound notoriety, Black had a male lead opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in the romantic comedy Shallow Hal (2001). Directed by the Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary, and Me, Myself and Irene) Black played Hal Larson, a shallow man who learns beauty comes from within (through the help of a hypnosis spell). The following year, Black had a feature role in the comedy Run Ronnie Run (2002), where he also sang for the movie soundtrack titled “The Golden Rule Song” when it was released on DVD. For his brilliant body of work, Black won a 2003 DVD Exclusive for Best Original Song in a DVD Premiere Movie. In addition, along with Tenacious D, he scored such hits as “Wonderboy” and “Tribute.” Black continued on his successful run with the big-budget comedy Orange County (2002), as a prototypical slacker figure, and the popular CGI-animated comedy Ice Age (2002), providing his voice for Zeke.
The actor gained even more recognition in the following year when Black rejoined Orange County screenwriter Mike White for School of Rock (2003). Starring as an unemployed rocker, Dewie Finn, who gets his big break by teaching a private school’s fifth grade class music theory and the history of rock and roll, Black successfully charmed critics and audiences alike. The film was a hit and Black’s performance was critically applauded and Black received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Black took home a ShoWest Convention award for Comedy Star of the Year in 2004.
Next up for the comedian, he undertook a costarring role opposite renowned comedian Ben Stiller in the Barry Levinson-directed Envy (2004) and provided the voice of Lenny in DreamWorks’ CGI-animated underwater Shark Tale (2004) before landing a plum role as adventurer filmmaker Carl Denham, who captures Skull Island’s giant gorilla, in director Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated remake of King Kong (2005), opposite Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody. In 2006, Black can add Danny Roane: First Time Director (2006), Nacho Libre (2006), Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny (2006) and The Holiday (2006, opposite Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) to his resume. He is also scheduled to play a role in director Edgar Wright’s forthcoming adventure comedy Them (2007) and will lend his voice for character Po in 2008’s animated Kung Fu Panda. As for his music, the self-confessed country fan may be performing with Tobey Keith in concert in the spring of 2006.
- ShoWest Convention: Comedy Star of the Year, 2004
- DVD Exclusive: Best Original Song in a DVD Premiere Movie, Run Ronnie Run!, “The Golden Rule Song,” 2003
- Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Supporting Actor - Comedy/Romance, High Fidelity, 2001