Jack Black Playing Muhammad Ali? Hit ‘Rewind’ And You’ll See

Actor 'remakes' 'When We Were Kings,' 'Ghostbusters,' 'Driving Miss Daisy' in Michel Gondry's demented comedy.

BEVERLY HILLS, California — It may have been as a member of Tenacious D that Jack Black rose to stardom, but it’s his role in a remake of “RoboCop” that could launch the actor to even further heights. Or maybe “Ghostbusters,” some say. Even his work as Muhammad Ali in the documentary “When We Were Kings” could turn heads. And that’s not to mention his performance as a black chauffeur in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

If you have a hard time believing Black would take on any of those roles, try wrapping your head around this: The “remakes” are all part of his next flick, “Be Kind Rewind,” the demented story of a man whose magnetized brain erases every tape in his friend’s video rental store. That means the two have to quickly refilm every movie in order to satisfy the store’s most loyal customer.

“There [were] tons of movies that we did,” Black said of the upcoming Michel Gondry-directed film. “We did ‘When We Were Kings,’ the documentary about Muhammad Ali — I play Muhammad Ali, strangely. We did ‘Superman.’ I probably shouldn’t say that … we had to change the name of it to something else — ‘Incredible Flying Man,’ I think. We did ‘Ghostbusters,’ we did ‘Robocop,’ we did ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ just to name a few.”

For someone who suddenly found himself as the pseudo star of some of Hollywood’s best-known classics, Jack Black did surprisingly little research, he admitted.
“We were under strict orders not to watch any of the movies again, and if we had not seen it, [not to] see it,” he explained. “[Gondry] wanted it to look that way, [like it] was based on the commercials that you had seen of the movie. Because there was no time in the movie for us to do any research, he wanted to keep that consistent with us as actors — to not have time to research the movies we were remaking.”

Call it controlled anarchy or planned spontaneity — contradictions that Gondry purposively fostered on set, Black said.

“He is a very spontaneous director and super-creative on every level,” Black explained of the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” director. “I guess a lot of the time I felt like nobody knew what was going on except for him. I think he likes to create a little bit of chaos on the set and then, at the last minute, focus it.”

See everything we’ve got on Jack Black and “Be Kind Rewind.”

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