I’ve now done two set visits for Jack Black movies, and both times I’ve been lucky enough to hear him sing about the movie’s he’s making. This time it was for Jumanji.
Last October, a group of fellow journalists and I traveled to Hawaii to visit the set of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The upcoming film finds that the board game has taken a new form, this time as a video game. When four teenagers find themselves in detention, they discover the Jumanji video game. After booting it up and choosing characters to play, the get sucked into the game and discover they’ve been transformed into their avatar bodies. Armed with new abilities and no idea how to escape, the quartet must figure out how to finish the game and get back to the real world.
During a break in filming, Black came over to talk (and sing) to us about Jumanji. During our conversation, he talked about tapping into his inner 16-year-old girl, what video games he plays, reteaming with director Jake Kasdan, his thoughts on the original film, and more.
Check out the full interview below.
JACK BLACK: What’s up you guys? Thanks for your patience. I would’ve come see you earlier but we didn’t really have any breaks. But I heard that Dwayne did find time to squeeze some time in with you. I don’t know how he does it. He’s a bad man.
He told us about your Jumanji song.
BLACK: I am working on one. I don’t know if I want to release it to the public just yet, but I can give you a little taste. It goes, (sings) Jumaaanji. It’s the jungle inside your soul. Somewhere deep inside at the end of the wild. Jumaaaanji. (talks normally again) Okay that’s all you get. That’s a lot. I can’t help it. I can never hold a secret. When it’s something so juicy and delicious, I have to let it leak. And then it goes, (sings) Jumaaaanji, jumanji, jumaaaanji, jumanji, jumaaaanji, jumanji, jumaaanji, jumanji, jumaaaaaaaanji. (talks normally again) But you know, it’s a collaboration with Nick Jonas. Don’t tell my partner Kyle Gass, Tenacious D. He will kill me in my sleep with a ball-peen hammer if he finds out that I have collaborated with a new rockstar.
Speaking of him, I have heard you guys play. Play the song.
BLACK: He’d be so fucking jealous if I formed a new band with Nick Jonas. Sorry. Upgrade!
I know you’re a gamer. What sort of gamer stuff have you brought into this.
BLACK: What sort of gamer stuff have I brought to this? Well, you know I’m an old-school gamer. I remember the birth of video games, literally. What was it like 1978 when first Space Invaders came to town? I have a close personal connection with it. In fact, my first gig in Hollywood was for a video game called Pitfall Harry in 1983? ‘82? It was a long time ago, brah.
But now, lately I’ve been really into, what’s the game I’ve been into? Now it’s like what I play with my boys. I learned how to play Minecraft, which was tough. But because I’m a good father, I learned how to do it. I like Grand Theft Auto V. But you’re asking what video game knowledge do I bring. I’m not even thinking about that really. It’s just in my blood. It naturally oozes from my pores, my video game knowledge. I probably am the most video game-savvy dude in the cast and probably crew as well. I’d say of anyone in town, brah.
For instance right now, in my trailer, I have Call of Duty: Black Ops III. And it’s very frustrating because we’re working so much, and we’re working French hours, which means no lunch break. No fucking trailer time. I have zero time to go back and work on my Black Ops III. It’s very frustrating. You know, it’s all about the apps now. Sorry, what were you guys saying?
You play a sixteen-year-old girl named Bethany.
BLACK: Oh you know a lot. I didn’t know you knew all that. I play a girl who’s like the cutest girl in her high school. She’s a bombshell. When the game starts and we realize that our avatars are totally different, she’s a little bummed that she’s taken the shape of an overweight middle-aged man, but uh dem’s the breaks. But she learns some lessons along the way about, what do you call that? When you judge people by their looks and their cover?
BLACK: Superficiality! Thank you.
What was the fun of getting in touch with your inner 16-year-old girl?
BLACK: In a weird way, I feel like it was the real life I was born to play. It was very easy to tap into my inner 16-year-old girl. I don’t know why. But just to have that power of attraction. It’s subtle, but when you know you’ve got it, you know you’ve got it. And it’s just a look, a subtle gesture, and you know you’ve got it.
Was it weird going from Goosebumps, which was kind of horror movie Jumanji, to actual Jumanji?
BLACK: Interesting. Was Goosebumps kind of like horror film Jumanji? Kind of. God, now that you mention it. No there was no problem going from one child book adaptation to a movie to another. I feel very comfortable in the genre ever since School of Rock, I feel like I can party in a kids’ movie and make it really funny and make it really entertaining for me too. I love the script. I love the part; I wanted to play it really badly. I’m just glad I’m here