CULVER CITY, California — When it was announced that Jack Black would be starring in the new remake of “King Kong,” a lot of people wondered: He’s not going all serious-actor guy, is he?
“There are some funny things about my character but, yeah, it is a different thing for me,” Black revealed backstage at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. “But I’m not approaching it differently. I’m approaching it with the same balls-to-the-wall attitude.”
And there’ll be a similar attitude throughout Peter Jackson’s “Kong” remake, which Black promised will feature a much fiercer giant gorilla than some of the kinder, gentler versions.
“I just read the script for the first time. It’s so rad. And it’s top secret. I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you this,” he teased. “King Kong is going to be scary as hell, dude. He’s not gonna be sweet and cuddly. It’s not gonna be the cute kind [of movie]. He’s a f—ing carnivore, as in, eats flesh!”
The movie will be shot in New Zealand with Jackson’s team re-creating parts of 1930s New York. Black will be joined in the movie by Naomi Watts (“The Ring”) and Andy Serkis, who will provide motion-capture work for the computer-generated Kong, a role similar to what he did for Jackson when he played Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings.” Serkis will also play a smaller part in the movie, sans effects.
Serkis isn’t the only “Rings” alum looking to re-team with Jackson, who achieved cult status with the horror flicks “Bad Taste” and “Dead Alive” before getting art-house credibility with Kate Winslet’s “Heavenly Creatures” and his Hollywood break with 1996’s “The Frighteners.” Late last year, while promoting “The Return of the King,” everyone from Elijah Wood to Ian McKellen publicly expressed interest in being involved (see ” ’Rings’ Cast Scrambling For Parts In Peter Jackson’s ’King Kong’ “ ).
“I don’t blame them. You know, all my friends are telling me the same thing, too: ’Get me in “King Kong,” man, you’re tight with Jackson!,’ ” Black said, laughing. “And I’m not really that tight with Jackson. And I’m not going to be telling him, you know, ’Cast my neighbor, he really wants to be in your movie!’ ”
Black first encountered Jackson as something of a fanboy himself.
“It was weird because I kind of look like him now, with the beard and the ’baby,’ ” he said, patting his stomach. “We are kind of the same guy. But it was good to meet him. I was nervous. I’m a huge fan of his and I really wanted to be in ’King Kong.’ I hadn’t even read it yet, you know? I just met him and said, ’Uh, yeah, I heard you’re doing ’King Kong.’ So, uh, what do you think, man?’ And he was like, ’I’m thinking about you for the role.’ And I was like, ’Oh, all right!’ ”
Black is such a fan that he’s likening one of his other projects — the long-discussed movie about his band Tenacious D, which is written and now has an April 1, 2005, start date — to the New Zealand filmmaker’s famous trilogy. “It’s like the ’Lord of the Rings’ of rock. I swear to God it’s going to be the best movie ever made. And there are lots of special effects, car chases and stuff — for real.”
“I want — I need — Meat Loaf to play my dad,” he added, without a hint of irony. “I want Rob Zombie to play the wizard. And I want Ronnie James Dio to play himself. I have my dream list. If I could get those people, I’d be squared.”
He mentioned to Peter Jackson that he’s aiming to surpass, or at least equal, “The Lord of the Rings” with the Tenacious D flick. “He’s all right with it. He’s closed that chapter in his life, you know? So there’s room for more epic quests.”
And perhaps there’ll be room on Black’s shelf for another MTV Movie Award.
“It’s always good to win. I’m very competitive, so when I lose, it burns in my skull,” he said about his taking home the golden popcorn for Best Comedic Performance in another guitar-driven movie, “The School of Rock.” “I’d like to say to the other people that were in my category: I thank you all for being not quite as funny as me this time.”
“King Kong” is scheduled to begin filming in August, with a December 2005 release date. Black’s voice will be heard before that in the animated “Shark Tale,” alongside Will Smith and Angelina Jolie (“I call her Angie,” Black noted), which opens October 1.
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