Jack Black was born on August 28, 1969, in Santa Monica, California. His breakthrough role was in High Fidelity (2000), and he soon co-starred opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in 2001's Shallow Hal. His animated film project Kung Fu Panda scored big at the box office in 2008—the same year that Black appeared in the comedy Tropic Thunder. In 2009, he starred in Year One, and more recently appeared in Kung Fu Panda 2, The Big Year and R.L. Stine's Goosebumps.
Actor, musician and comedian Jack Black was born Thomas Jacob Black on August 28, 1969, in Santa Monica, California. One of the more popular character actors of recent years, Black's acerbic wit and high-energy antics have made him a standard bearer for the Generation X demographic.
Black attended UCLA, where he became a member of Tim Robbins's Actors Gang, a Los Angeles-based performance troupe that also spawned John Cusack. Black would make his film debut with Robbins and later play opposite Cusack in a highly memorable role.
Variety of Roles
In Robbins's political spoof Bob Roberts (1992), Black had a small but critically noted role as a fanatical supporter of presidential hopeful Bob Roberts (played by Robbins himself). In 1994, Black teamed up with friend and fellow actor Kyle Gass to form Tenacious D, a tongue-in-cheek musical ensemble lovingly, if sarcastically, dubbed the "Greatest Band on Earth." Throughout the 1990s, Black managed to land a steady stream of bit parts in feature attractions such as Waterworld (1995), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Cable Guy (1996), Mars Attacks! (1996), The Jackal (1997), Enemy of the State (1998) and Cradle Will Rock (1999).
But it was in more independently oriented projects that Black's talents were given free rein. His brief turn in HBO's Mr. Show and his critically acclaimed performance as a pill-popping hospital attendant in Jesus' Son (1999) increasingly cemented his reputation as a comic force.
'High Fidelity' and 'Shallow Hal'
Black's breakthrough came with the 2000 adaptation of the popular Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity. As Barry, a hyper-pretentious record store clerk, Black showcased his knack for brutally acerbic wit. Although only a member of the supporting cast, Black's performance was one of the most memorable attributes of a film that was a critical success.
Capitalizing on his new-found notoriety, Black starred opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in the romantic comedy Shallow Hal (2001). The film, directed by the Farrelly brothers of There's Something About Mary fame, received mixed reviews. Black followed with Orange County (2002), another big-budget comedy in which he played a prototypical slacker figure, and School of Rock (2003), in which he played a rebellious music teacher. The role earned Black a Golden Globe nomination. Both films provided Black with added exposure while allowing him to stretch his artistic roles. He starred in the remake King Kong, opposite Naomi Watts, and Mexican wrestling comedy Nacho Libre followed in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
'Panda' and Personal Life
On May 14, 2008, Black let the news slip that co-star Angelina Jolie was pregnant with twins during a joint interview at the Cannes Film Festival in France to promote their animated movie Kung Fu Panda. Since that accidental revelation, Black has expanded his own family. He and his wife Tanya Haden welcomed a son, Samuel, in 2006 and a second son named Thomas David in 2008.
Kung Fu Panda went on to score big at the box office, earning more than $630 million worldwide and producing two sequels. Later that summer, Black appeared in Tropic Thunder with Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. Then in 2009 he starred in the comedy Year One with Michael Cera. He also provided the voice of Eddie Rigs in the video game Brütal Legend. Other notable films that Black starred in include Gulliver's Travels (2010), Richard Linklater's Bernie (2011), The Muppets (2011), and Sex Tape (2014).
After having appeared in a number of TV series, Black once again returned to the big screen in Goosebumps, an adaptation of a popular children's series by R.L. Stine that finds the horror writer's creatures unleashed upon a neighborhood. The movie debuted in October 2015 and soared to No. 1 at the domestic box office, earning more than $23 million on opening weekend.
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