Jack Black on the magic of being in House With A Clock In Its Walls
Jack Black is excited to play a warlock in The House With A Clock In Its Walls
Jack Black took on his new role as a warlock in The House With A Clock In Its Walls because he always wanted to play someone with "magic powers".
Co-starring with Oscar-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett was fine, but it just could not compare to that.
"I always just wanted to do this with my hand," the 49-year-old US actor said, gesturing with his hands.
"So my favourite special effect was I could do this (makes throwing motions with his arm), and later they would create a fireball and I could throw that fireball across the room. These are the childish impulses that make actors excited."
We were at The Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Hollywood for the press junket for the fantasy family flick, which opens here tomorrow.
In The House With A Clock In Its Walls - based on the book by John Bellairs and directed by Eli Roth - Black plays the aforementioned warlock who takes in his 10-year-old nephew Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) when the boy's parents die in an accident.
Lewis finds uncle Jonathan's house is alive and full of secrets, chief among them an incessant tick-tocking clock.
Then there is the eccentric neighbour Florence Zimmerman, played by Blanchett.
What appealed to Black was that the story was a good allegory for children.
"It has that great scary story of evil witches and warlocks versus good witches and warlocks. This kid in the centre of the story trying to find his way into school and be loved and feeling that insecurity and wanting to use the dark arts to be accepted.
"It really kind of touches on something that I think a lot of kids feel nowadays, with fear of being seen as different or odd or bullied, so I think it works on many really cool levels."
As an adult, it is US President Donald Trump who scares Black.
He said: "There is this terrifying monster in the White House and all I want to do is watch TV and hear about the latest horrible thing.
"Hopefully, it will have a happy ending. Hey, we got the midterm elections coming up soon. Come on blue wave, wash away the orange menace."
He described the first time he met Blanchett, at an Oscar party in 2014.
"I was doing the walk of shame because you go get the free swag bags. You don't want to be seen with Gucci bags filled with creams and lotions, but they are good re-gifts.
"I am running to the car with one of these things, and who do I see at the valet parking line? It's Cate Blanchett, my favourite actor. I told her how huge of a fan I am of hers and I stuttered a little bit. She was nice and she said she also enjoyed my work or something like that.
"In my mind, there was a little rainbow connection... I didn't say it, but I thought maybe someday we would be in a movie together. But I didn't dare to dream. And then it happened and it was so exciting for me.
"The lesson is, if you see someone you admire, you should tell them, be brave. Because I don't know if she would have done the movie if I hadn't reached out in that embarrassing valet line."
Black's character, Jonathan, is an easy-going uncle. He copped to being a somewhat relaxed parent himself as the father of two boys, 12 and 10.
"I probably failed in the discipline department. They don't have complete run of the household, but I try to keep them doing their homework before they have screen time and get to bed on time because otherwise the mornings are torturous. But do they have cookies for breakfast? Maybe. Sometimes."
He added: "I am definitely in the annoying dad category. My kids find me embarrassing and there is a lot of telling me, 'Dad, shut up. You are so stupid.'
"I think that is natural. But I think I am one of the cool dads at school to the other kids, just not to my own."
He said his sons prefer Will Ferrell movies as "everything I do annoys them and I am a humiliating creature".