Jack Black admitted in Rolling Stone’s new oral history of “School of Rock” that he was nervous to act opposite a bunch of children in Richard Linklater‘s hit comedy. The film, written by “The White Lotus” creator Mike White, cast Black as Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck guitarist who puts together a makeshift band of kid musicians while substitute teaching at a prep school.
“In retrospect, it seems ridiculous [to be nervous], because I’m such an immature idiot that it was a perfect match to be with a bunch of kids,” Black said. “We had a blast — horsing around and making jokes and making fart noises in between takes.”
Cast member Jordan-Claire Green, who played “groupie” Michelle, was just a kid on the set and remembered Black accidentally cursing around his much younger co-stars.
“The only time I ever saw him get nervous was one night we were on set, and he said a cuss word,” Green said. “I think it was ‘shit.’ He apologized to our parents. My mom was like, ‘You don’t think she’s ever heard me say ‘shit’?’”
Linklater, who scored his biggest hit with “School of Rock” and its $131 million worldwide gross, admitted that he originally passed on the film when he first read the script.
“It was cheesy; there was a formulaic quality to it,” said Linklater, who up until then was best known for his slice-of-life and grounded indies like “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused” and “Before Sunset. “Then I got a call from my agent. She’s like, [Producer Scott Rudin] is not accepting your pass.’ I’m like, ‘Well, then, let’s talk.’ He was basically grilling me on what I responded to and what I didn’t respond to, and he was agreeing with a lot of what I was saying. I had to know for sure that I could wade into this studio situation and feel good. Creatively, I had to feel like it was going to be my movie.”
Black remembered Linklater going over the entire script “to try to keep it grounded, keep it real, even though it comes off kind of crazy.”
“He was addressing things like, ‘I don’t believe this. They’re doing a music class and nobody finds out? They have to soundproof the classroom. Let’s do this right,’” Black said. “Those little elements of keeping it on planet Earth really served it.”
“It was [ridiculous] that you could get away with this,” Linklater added. “I want there to be a logic within the world that makes sense. Still, if you really break it down, that wouldn’t be enough sound insulation to keep the room next door from knowing you got a full rock & roll band going in here. But at least we’re letting everyone know, ‘We thought about that.’”
“School of Rock” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the cast is going to reunite later this fall to celebrate the occasion. In an interview last April, Black told Entertainment Tonight that “School of Rock” remained the high point of his career.
“My best memories are just that group of kids, and how funny and great they were,” he said at the time. “It’s definitely the highlight of my career, I can say that. Honestly.”
Head over to Rolling Stone’s website to read the “School of Rock” oral history in its entirety.
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