An Audience With Jack Black

Cripes. Woke up this morning to discover an oil depot in Hemel Hempstead had exploded and was pumping oily black smoke across the whole of London. I nipped down to Richmond Lock to get a better view and swear I saw the plume of smoke far off on the horizon – it’s bloody miles away, so that’s one HUGE plume. Now London will be afflicted with black rain and nasty smog; as though it wasn’t polluted enough! Still, on the plus side, nobody was killed, which is a miracle under the circumstances.

Funnily enough, I’m sure I should’ve felt the explosion this morning – it was even heard in Holland, according to Sky News – but at 6am I was so fast asleep I wouldn’t have noticed armageddon itself. Which makes me wonder if I felt a premonition the other night when I experienced the ground shaking… a taster tremor, just to warn me of what was coming?

I’m not saying I’m psychic, but my ancestry has been traced back to the witches of Pendle Hill in Lancashire, who were burnt at the stake, poor buggers. Spooky! Of course, back then you got burnt at the stake for anything, including liking cats. I love moggies, I really do. I could have just inherited the “must like felines” gene instead…

Well, Total Film’s latest deadline was struck on Friday with just 20 minutes to spare before I had to leave to see Jack Black. Hurrah! It was touch and go for a while and I worked two nights until 11pm to make sure I could get there. Strangely, it didn’t bother me this month: I wasn’t tired at all and had a good laugh with the team members who also worked late. Plus we got free pizza! What’s not to like?

With the issue sent to the printers, off I went to the Jack Black Q&A with a workmate. It was being filmed to show on Sky Movies 8 this coming Thursday, which is annoying because I don’t have that channel and don’t know anybody who has! Sod’s fecking law.

We had a few drinks in the green room beforehand after dodging the autograph hunters outside the National Film Theatre (Jack was running late, though, so I bet they didn’t get as much as a wave). Then we headed inside and had wicked seats – smack bang in the middle of the seventh row, great view! Our host for the next hour was comedian Phill Jupitus, who walked onstage and announced, “Right, got to interview Jack Black in a minute. Blimey, I’m shittin’ myself!” The floor manager kept giving him instructions we couldn’t hear; at one point Jupitus looked shocked. “Did you just tell me not to look so fat?” he wailed.

Black finally came onstage with a tired smile and nervous eyes, his entire body language reeking of an actor who’s spent the last week doing exhausting press junkets and knows there’s another month left to go. It took him a while to warm up – he was probably trying to suss out Jupitus’s cheeky brand of questioning, too – but once he did, he was hilarious. Both guys got told off for swearing by the floor manager; Jack proved he has a terrible memory and Jupitus made fun of his clothes.

At the end, two people in the audience got to ask Jack a question. By some fluke I managed to be one of them – there were about 200 people there, so my “waving my arm in the air” skills must be pretty damn fine. I asked Jack –

HERE BE A VERY SMALL KONG SPOILER, FOLKS! PLEASE SKIP BELOW UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE FILM…

– how he felt, delivering the immortal line “It wasn’t the planes that got him. It was beauty killed the beast.” Jack said he didn’t really think about how famous it was; he didn’t practice in front of a mirror or anything. Then he looked thoughtful. “Maybe I should have…”

Christ. If that had been me, there would’ve been 900 takes. It’s one of the most famous lines in cinema history! How can you not feel the pressure? I can see it now: “Can I just do that again, Peter? I’m not sure I nailed it… yeah, I know it’s 3am, but…”

…KONG SPOILER OVER!

After the Q&A they screened King Kong. Second time round, I loved it. I didn’t see a single flaw. It was perfect. I laughed, I cried, I listened to the crowd reacting to some of the brilliant, moving or gross bits, I lost three hours of my life without even noticing it. Again, I went to the toilet as the credits rolled and saw a line of women dabbing their eyes at the mirror, readjusting their makeup. I said to one girl, “I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who cried!”

She laughed. “It wasn’t just us. As I left, I saw one guy just sitting there, staring at the screen in shock, tears rolling down his face.”

Now that’s a good movie.

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