PARK CITY, Utah — Although you won’t get to see many of the Sundance ’08 films until late this year into next, one of the most enjoyable flicks up here was “Be Kind Rewind,” a flick starring Jack Black and Mos Def that wears a quirky badge proudly on its sleeve. “Rewind” hits theaters everywhere February 22 and received a special slot at Sundance largely in tribute to writer/director Michel Gondry , the visionary behind such films as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
Telling the story of two numbskulls who delete all the VHS tapes in their video store and try to refilm the movies with themselves as the stars, “Rewind” is a movie made for people who love movies. It also helps if you love Jack Black — and since we do, we were eager to catch up with him at Sundance to discuss his ab-tastic T-shirt, his theories on the popularity of the Wii, and a new project opposite Michael Cera.
MTV: “Be Kind Rewind” is about “Sweding,” the process of remaking a classic film with you and your friends in the lead roles. Of all the great movies to come from Sundance over the years, what one would you like to Swede?
Jack Black: If I could redo any classic Sundance movie, I’d go with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.”
MTV: You wanna be James Spader?
Black: I’d be Spader. … He’s the creepy guy, but he ends up being the really good, nice guy.
MTV: It’s probably not the first time that you and Spader have been mentioned for the same role over the years.
Black: [He laughs.] Yeah, It’s always me and Spade. It’s a battle to the death for acting supremacy.
MTV: I hate to call you out, but we’ve been going around to all these swag lounges, and it seems that every time somebody talks about which celebrities are coming in next for free stuff, they always list yourself.
Black: Oh really?
MTV: So what have you been doing with yourself lately?
Black: Well, I’ve just been going and doing interviews promoting my new movie. … And, yeah, I’ve been going into swag kiosks and looking at what they have. Taking what I need and discarding the rest.
MTV: What booty have you scored so far?
Black: I’ve got one of those things over there. A camera? A flip camera, video camera. I don’t know what it does, but I think it’s good. And I got some sunglasses, I got some flip-flops, which will be really be handy while I’m out here. And I got some stuff for my lady.
MTV: How does it work? Do you just walk in and say, “I’m Jack Black! Gimme stuff!”
Black: No, there are strings attached. You do have to take pictures with the products, and you don’t know what they’re gonna do with those pictures.
MTV: I heard you were going to the Gibson Lounge to do some rocking out on their guitars. True?
Black: That’s what I heard too, but I did not do any rocking. I need warning! I can’t just start, like, rocking. I have to practice and figure out all my moves beforehand. I take it very seriously. They think it’s just like, “Yeah, start rocking.” But it doesn’t happen like that. You’ve gotta get your game face on. You’ve got to do your preparations.
MTV: The Wii Lounge also claimed you were coming over to play their downhill-skiing game.
Black: I did not go to the Wii Lounge either, but I was thinking about this the other day: The Nintendo Wii is the most popular of all video game systems right now — more than the Xbox, more than the PlayStation. And the reason is simple: because it’s called Wii. It just sounds fun! Weeeee!
MTV: Makes sense. Which of this year’s Sundance films are you going to try to see?
Black: I kinda want to see the 3-D U2 movie. And I also want to check out this one called “Where the Hell Is Osama bin Laden?” [Editor's note: The documentary is actually called “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?” ] That’s all I know. What else is good?
MTV: “The Yellow Handkerchief” is pretty cool.
Black: It’s just pretty cool? ‘Cause I’m not interested in pretty cool. I’m interested in “Oh my God!”
MTV: The George A. Romero zombie film ["Diary of the Dead"] is “Oh my God” in some ways.
Black: [He laughs.] All right, I’m going to that.
MTV: We’ve talked to all kinds of people at Sundance throwing big parties: 50 Cent, Paris Hilton, Nick Cannon. Will you be hanging with any of them?
Black: Maybe Fiddy. I might see him around, I don’t know. He didn’t call me.
MTV: Are you and 50 Cent good friends?
Black: I met Fiddy one time. I wouldn’t say we’re good friends. But we exchanged eye contact. And it was real. It was on!
MTV: Who has the more intimidating stare?
Black: It was close. I was pretty intense.
MTV: You’ve got a T-shirt on that really flaunts your abs. Have you been working out for your next role?
Black: Yeah, I’m playing ["Rocky IV" actor] Dolph Lundgren. I’ve been doing a lot of workouts, and I’m trying to get the reverse farmer’s tan.
MTV: But for real, your next flick is the comedy “Year One” with Michael Cera . Is that why you’re growing this beard?
Black: Yeah, it’s a comedy set in biblical times, and back in biblical times, they didn’t have the Mach 3 razor.
MTV: How is your comedic style jelling with Cera’s straight-man routine?
Black: It’s been working. We’ve had a week of filming already, and he’s incredible. He’s so funny and great. We’re a team. I think we make a good team.
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