Typically, when an actor takes on a role of a real, life personality, they try their best to become that very person. Their quirks, their gestures and mannerisms- all meticulously researched and practiced to perfection. In Sony’s upcoming Goosebumps, based on the spooky children’s books by R.L. Stine, Jack Black becomes R.L. Stine… but not at all similar to the actual writer himself.
“We met him before we started filming,” said Black at a recent press conference for the film in Los Angeles. “We asked him for his notes and his blessing. He loved the script and he didn’t mind that I was doing a much different characterization of him. He’s got a great sense of humor, he was fine with it- that I was portraying him as this anti-social grouch. He understands drama, the necessity for some liberties to be taken.”
Playing R.L Stine may be new to the actor/comedian/musician, but heading a film directed at children and families has been in his wheelhouse for well over a decade. Yet, there is something new in this character that he found fun to play. Black stated, “What was different about this for me was doing a character who wasn’t a lovable, squishy loser hero. This was the dark, brooding genius, who was a fun change of pace for me. I’m no stranger to entertaining the kids, I’ve been doing that for more than a decade now. I think it’s because I have a lot of childish qualities myself. I’m a big man-child, so I can relate to what kids think is funny, hopefully.”
Perhaps his “childish” qualities come out most when he talks about his fears. At one point during the press conference, one journalist asked what gives each of the cast Goosebumps, Black gave a rather deep answer.
“The size of the universe, and also the survival of the human species” said Black. “Sometimes when I think about the inevitable death of any human being. You know what I mean? Is there any hope? I mean, it would be sweet if we lived all the way to infinity, but we’re going to have to build a Death Star, because the sun at some point is going to engulf the planet, but that’s not going to be for a billion years, and we’d be lucky if we make it that long. So we actually have to build a couple of Death Stars and spread them over the galaxy. I’ll leave it at that.”
OK, almost a deep answer. But hey, I think the death star idea could work!
Goosebumps opens October 16th and is rated PG.