THE RED BULLETIN: Your new film is called Goosebumps, but what exactly are you afraid of?
JACK BLACK: There was a fire at my mother’s first husband’s house about 10 or 12 years ago. It was a huge blaze with everything you would expect: fire alarms, people panicking. Immediately the coward in me started running.
That doesn’t really paint you in the best light…
I know. It’s very embarrassing. It was not very heroic. But then I said to myself: “I can’t leave. I need to go back and help people out.” And I did. But my initial instinct is always to save myself.
So you’re not a hero?
The only heroic thing about me is that I perform on stage or in front of the camera. The mission was to never get a real job, just make a life out of making movies and music. So far, so good. It’s been a great fun ride. Sometimes I get an ulcer from stage fright stress. Which is strange, because that’s what I wanted to do. In my mind, every time I am about to go on stage or on camera, I always think: “This is going to go badly.”
How do you get past that?
I have to silence my inner critic – “quiet, quiet, quiet.” And then pump up the other one that is like: “This is going to go really well. People are going to laugh really hard.” Then I have to convince myself that it’s possible. It’s 50:50. If I can get to 50:50 where I don’t know whether it’s going to be good or bad, that’s a good place to be as you go on stage.
Were you a difficult child?
No, but I was a dark child. It was all about the devil. All of us that like heavy metal and rock are like that.
Did you believe in the devil?
Of course I believed in the devil. – A little bit, sure. It’s fun. Any good story has a great villain. And the devil is the ultimate villain. Like Darth Vader – the devil makes the movie.
Do your kids think the same?
I know my kids like to be scared. They like scary movies, comic books and things like that. But I don’t let them watch the really scary stuff like The Shining. They watch mostly old scary movies. Because most of them are not scary anymore. Like the original Frankenstein. All of those black and white ones are open season. Except for Psycho. Hitchcock was tapping into something very hairy.
What scares you most – the real world or your imagination?
The real world. Global warming is very scary. Although there are a couple of presidential candidates who swear it’s all in my head….
You were in Uganda on “Red Nose Day” for a humanitarian trip. Were you afraid?
No. It was just really saddening and it was very emotional in a way I didn’t anticipate. I thought I would just go and report the news and see where the money was going. But unfortunately it was much more painful. It was seeing the little kids that were so sweet and funny and that were in such horrible situations. It was a bit too much for me eventually. I am glad we raised some money though for some of the programs. Red Nose is a good organization.