Jack Black has certainly proved the sceptics wrong.
In his first major role, he played the comic sidekick in a movie that went almost unnoticed but has since become a cult classic, High Fidelity.
Before that he was known as one half of a rock band The Tenacious D and as a member of Tim Robbins’ Los Angeles theatre company, the Actors Gang.
He was this chubby comic who would be lucky if he could one day support a family.
But what do you know, he did become a semi superstar, thanks to his co-starring role in the international blockbuster Jumanji.
But even before that, he had played romantic leads opposite some of the most beautiful A-list actresses in the business including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslett, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Amanda Peet.
At the moment the 49-year-old is sharing top billing with Cate Blanchett in The House With A Clock In Its Walls.
What a unique career he’s had, jumping from slapstick to serious roles and in between finding a huge family audience when he voiced the lovable Po in the Kung Fu Panda movies.
When did you first want to be an actor?
As a kid I always wanted to be an actor. I loved to perform, but I didn’t fit the mould.
But I knew early on that I loved to get up on the stage and put on a show. When I was about 25 and doing Tenacious D that I found my voice through writing and playing music.
How did you segue into acting?
I was a theatre major at UCLA, and I got a lucky little break when I got a part in an Actor’s Gang Theater production.
We went to Edinburgh Theatre Festival and had so much fun. And then we went to New York and got the worst reviews that you have ever read. But I didn’t care, because I was 20 having so much fun I just dropped out of college and focused on the theatre for awhile. And then Tim Robbins gave me my first part in his (1992) movie Bob Roberts. And when he took it to the Cannes Film Festival, I wasn’t invited because I had such a small part, but my father lived in Cannes, so I was like this is a sign to go visit my dad.
And then I called Tim and said, “Hey, weird thing, I’m in town!”
Were you popular at school?
I was the class clown. I wanted to make everyone laugh. And I would go to great lengths to humiliate myself.
Shamelessly. Anything to get a laugh. The laughs were a fantastic drug. They put me in a state of euphoria.
Speaking of drugs, you’ve admitted to doing drugs in high school. So many comedians have fallen victim to addiction. What’s been your experience?
I have had experience in the world of addiction, alcoholism in my family, so I know personally what some of that is about. I have struggled too. This sounds ridiculous, and maybe you can’t compare it, but my addiction to cheeseburgers and just food in general. I feel like it’s not that far apart.
I’ve been to a couple of meetings for Over Eaters Anonymous, and I feel like we’re all addicted to something; it all comes down to dopamine, there’s a pleasure sensor in the brain that gets stimulated whether it be alcohol or food or heroin.
But there are so many elements beyond just the chemical. There’s the psychological and the emotional.
Where do you make your home? (Black is married to cellist Tanya Haden since 2006. The couple has two sons aged 10 and 12)
My wife, kids and I live in a very old house by Los Angeles standards, not by European standards.
But in LA if you live in a 100-year-old house, it’s like ancient; like living in an Egyptian tomb.
Even my wife and kids sometimes feel like it’s a haunted house and it’s got spirits in it.
While I am not sensitive to that, my wife had an experience where she saw a ghost. I have never seen one; I wish I had cause that would mean proof of afterlife and it would change my whole world perspective.
What type of a dad are you? Are you strict?
I try to enforce some level of discipline, but yeah, I am probably a little lax in that department.
To be honest, I probably have failed in the discipline department but they don’t have complete run of the household. I try to keep them on schedule.
Are they cool with your being their unconventional dad?
I am definitely in the annoying dad category. My kids find me embarrassing and there’s a lot of, “Dad shut up! You are so stupid!”
However, for the other kids at school I am one of the cool dads, just not for my own.
Have they inherited your acting genes?
Well they do like to put on little short films on their iPads. And they have shown some promise. They are very funny. They got great sense of humour. We will see where it leads, but it’s their journey.
I am not going to pressure them to follow in their father’s footsteps.
Although we might do a little father and sons YouTube channel at some point.
We are talking about doing a video game channel and that would be fun.
Do you have fond memories of School Of Rock?
That’s my tombstone we are talking about. That’s my finest moment, it’s where all the planets aligned,
When you have a great writer who is writing something just for you, for your strengths, which is what I had in my corner, that was a very fortunate moment for me.
Would you say that film changed your life?
You know, High Fidelity was probably the one where I felt like, “Oh, I have a foothold here, I don’t need my headshots anymore.”
But School Of Rock was the one where I felt like it was a home run, and we really connected with a large audience. It was fun and it rang all the bells for me.
How did High Fidelity change your life?
Well after that, suddenly I was getting serious offers. Before that I was scraping and scratching and trying to find jobs.
I went and auditioned and it was fun, but it was always like climbing a mountain.
But after High Fidelity, I didn’t really (need to) audition anymore. The game changed very dramatically.
Do you watch your old movies with your kids?
Kung Fu Panda was the first one I showed them. But I don’t like watching myself. So, I don’t say hey, we are going to watch daddy’s movie now!
They have discovered a couple (of my other movies) on their own, but they prefer Will Ferrell and other comedians, because like I said, everything I do annoys them and I am a humiliating creature.