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Rock is a gift. Rock is not bought, sold, rented, leased or manufactured. Some have rock handed to them from on high, while others undertake epic journeys across time and space in search of it. And for the select few, rock is learned at the feet of masters ... Enter Jack Black, demon funnyman and rock scholar.

In "School of Rock" — a tour de force in which Black is finally free to turn his manic stoner persona loose for two full hours — the comedian and Tenacious D frontman does his damnedest to pass the glory of rock down to an assortment of stiff-shirted private-school fifth graders. The result is more "Old School" than "Mr. Holland's Opus," a robust mix of rock tutorial and sharp wit that fires on all cylinders. MTV News' Vanessa White Wolf recently sat down with Black to find out if rock power can be taught, or if it's all just movie magic.

 'School Of Rock' photos
MTV: In "School of Rock," you turn these kids into rock stars. Do you think anyone can be a rock star?

Jack Black: No. Yes. I mean, anyone can rock. Rock star is a separate thing. That's celebrity. But can anyone rock? That's the important part, and yes, you don't have to be a muscle-bound freak, you don't have to be anything — [rock] can come in all shapes and sizes. It's in here — the rock is in the heart.

MTV: Are there any rock stars today?

Black: Yeah, of course — you've got your White Stripes, your Strokes. You got your uh, (pauses) — OK, that's it.

MTV: What's the difference between you and your character, Dewey?

Black: Dewey is kind of like my alter ego. He's kind of like what I would be if I didn't get a career going in the music industry or in the arts. He's kind of like a struggling, desperate dude who really wants to rock but gets kicked out of his band, so he becomes a substitute teacher just to make ends meet. But then he can't help himself. He's got to teach kids to rock. It's a compulsion.

 "School of Rock"
MTV News video report
MTV: How did the new music for the movie come together?

Black: I tried to write all the songs and then I failed. It took me and Kyle 10 years to write our [Tenacious D] album, so it wasn't like I was going to be able to crank out all the music in the movie in four months. So I got some help. I knew Warren Fitzgerald from the Vandals, so I asked him. He wrote the song in the beginning of the movie. Then I went to see the Strokes while we were filming the movie and we still didn't have the big finale song, and the guys that opened for the Strokes, the Mooney Suzuki, were so high-energy and funny and rocking, that I asked them afterwards if they would be interested. And they said, "Yeah, yeah, we'll write a song," and they did and it was kick-ass. And really, they saved the day.

MTV: What was it like working with the kids?

Black: Working with the kids was awesome. In the movie I'm teaching them how to rock, but in reality they didn't need to be taught because they were already really kick-ass musicians. It's amazing for a 10-year-old to be shredding on guitar, drums, keyboards and bass. So we were just sort of hanging, rocker to rocker, like, "What's up, dude?" And we would horse around and do a lot of made-up handshakes, songs, dances. I think they were just really psyched to be doing a movie.

 "School of Rock"
School of Rock Motion Picture Soundtrack
MTV: Did you have to watch for potty mouth?

Black: No, I let it rip. I dropped "F" bombs, "S" bombs, everywhere. Roar!! No, of course, I had to watch my language. But it's kind of a crutch, using the dirty words. When you can't do that, it forces you to get more creative and get a little funnier than usual. I think it helped my performance, to tell you the truth.

MTV: What's going on with the Tenacious D movie?

Black: That is no longer a non-movie. We wrote a movie for Tenacious D, Liam Lynch is gonna direct it and hopefully we will start shooting it early next year.

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Photo: Andrew Schwartz

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