Hitting theaters on Christmas Day is Jack Black’s new movie, Gulliver’s Travels (rated PG). You may remember Jack Black as the hilarious teacher in School of Rock. Well his new movie is a modern day version of a book written almost 300 years ago by Jonathan Swift! But of course with Jack Black involved, you can bet it will have a funny twist.
In the movie, Jack Black plays Gulliver, a mailroom clerk who lies about his job to get a big reporting assignment on the Bermuda Triangle. He goes there, only to be transported to an undiscovered land called Lilliput. All the people there are miniature, and Gulliver is literally a giant. There are lots of crazy CGI (computer generated imagery) scenes to say the least!
Q: How old you were when you first read the book?
Jack: Uh, I was thirty-nine years old. [laughs] Maybe I was thirty-eight. But I had not read the book until 20th Century Fox approached me with the concept of doing Gulliver’s Travels as a movie. And I have to say I don’t think it’s really a children’s book. Some pretty heavy stuff in there. I mean on one hand you can read it just as a fantasy fun book, but even then there’s some pretty spicy stuff. He (Gulliver) saves the king and queen by basically peeing on them because the castle was on fire. Ratha: Yuck. Not the way you want to be saved!
Q: Was it hard to do the CGI and green screen stuff?
Jack: No, I had done it before. I did a lot of green screen CGI on King Kong so I’m familiar with the process. Basically you just spend a lot more time pretending things are happening, that aren’t really there. There’s a giant gorilla right there, but really you’re just looking at a tennis ball.
Ratha: Hmm…do they at least try to make the tennis ball look scary?
Jack: It is fun for me to do. It gives you a chance to really play pretend like you did when you were a kid and that’s really what I love about acting.
Q: Do you have anything in common with Gulliver?
Jack: I definitely can relate to that aspect of Gulliver where he’s the low man on the totem pole at the newspaper where he’s working, but he’s got big dreams. . . but he lacks some of the self-confidence to really put himself out there to accomplish anything. I’ve definitely been there and have had to overcome my fears to get to where I am.
Q: When did you realize people were saying, “That’s an incredibly talented man.”?
Jack: Probably in high school. I did a couple of plays and a musical and I felt like I was really entertaining people. But it doesn’t really matter, because every time you have some success it’s fleeting. It lasts a few weeks or months and then you get back to, “Yeah, but now what do I have to offer?” You always have to reinvent or climb that mountain again.
Ratha: It’s true. You have to keep that motivation!
Jack: I still to this day feel insecure about what my next thing’s going to be. That’s just life. You can never really rest on your laurels and say, “I finally made it.”
Q: When you were younger, did you ever think of a fallback career just in case acting and music didn’t work out for you?
Jack: I might have gone into animation. I had a lot of interest in that field. I love to draw and I actually did some animated shorts in high school.
Q: What were you like as a student in middle school, early high school?
Jack: I think you would call me a theater nerd. I knew all about the different theater actors. That was my passion.
Q: Is there a book you would recommend to kids?
Jack: Well I really loved the sci-fi books and a favorite of mine when I was a kid was A Wrinkle in Time. That blew my mind and I would recommend it to any thirteen-year-old that hasn’t read it already.
Q: Do you have an unusual talent that most people don’t know about?
Jack: I did ride a unicycle when I was a kid. I was pretty proud of it. It took months of practice before I was able to have my true balance on the bike.
Ratha: Wow, not many people can say that. And where can you even buy a unicycle?
Q: Do you have a favorite thing to cook?
Jack: I only have a couple things that I know how to cook well. They both include cheeseburger. One of them is macaroni and cheeseburger. There’s no bun involved. It’s just macaroni and cheese with little chunks of hamburger mixed in. Delicious. And the other thing is a cheeseburger burrito – where instead of a bun you just take a fluffy flour tortilla and wrap it up in there. It’s quite delightful.
Yum! When can I come over for dinner?
Let us know what you think about Jack, and Gulliver’s Travels in the Comments!
—Ratha, STACKS Writer
Videos by Gerri Miller
Interview by Marie Morreale