chat Jack Black on playing the giant in ‘Gulliver's Travels,' his favourite music and more.
‘G ulliver's Travels' released on December 31 amidst much fanfare. The film, in 3D in English and Hindi, delivers a fresh spin on the world-famous story of a giant among little people – an ordinary man who embarks on a spectacular adventure in Lilliput. Jack Black talks about the hilarious film in an interview. Excerpts…
So how did you land this film?
Oh, I jumped at the chance to be part of this! It was irresistible: Me…Gulliver…travelling….being a giant in another world. The elements were all there to make a big movie.
What happens to Gulliver as he arrives on the island?
He is enslaved at first. But Gulliver finds that in this world he is not only a giant but he can make up whoever he wants to be. They don't know him and they don't know the world he came from. So he says to them, ‘where I came from I was the King, the President. I wrote all the Beatles' songs.' And they believe him. So, this is wish fulfilment for him. He also learns a lesson along the way that what matters is not your resume. You don't have to be big or important to have a big heart. The message is: don't lie; it only gets you into trouble.
What was it like working with director Rob Letterman?
We had worked together before on ‘Shark Tale .' I knew he would be great at this kind of film because there are a lot of effects. He has a background in animation and a great eye for casting. Also he has a good sense of humour. So it was a fun adventure we took together.
Would you like to share any particularly funny scene?
Well, there is a scene where I land up ‘relieving' myself on the King of Lilliput, who is about to be burnt alive! I am worried he will banish me but he comes out of the castle and says, (British accent) ‘Gulliver our saviour!' I am their hero from that point in the movie.
How have you interpreted this iconic book in a film?
We wanted to make a family-friendly adventure so we tried to keep all the exciting and funny elements, of which there are many in the book. We also wanted to incorporate a little moral message into the movie.
There seem to be some interesting themes in the movie…
There are. My favourite is probably the relationship between the princess (Emily Blunt) and Horatio (Jason Segel), who is in love with the princess, and Edward the General, played by Chris O' Dowd. Edward treats the princess like an object. When I am telling Horatio how to woo the princess, my advice to him is to play it cool and say ‘yeah I like you but not that much.' It is part of a cruel movement nowadays which involves men treating women badly so they'll like them more and it is really despicable. And in the end, this movie has a very strong women's point of view. The princess stands up for herself and doesn't deal with any of that and it sends a positive message to young people about relationships.
What did you like to read as a child?
When I was a kid, Dr. Seuss was my favourite author; when I got a little older, I liked science fiction. I liked Ray Bradbury short stories and I liked one kids' book called ‘A Wrinkle In Time' by Madeleine L'Engle. There is some real physics involved in that story and some time and space travel that was great, I read the whole trilogy.
You have your own band now, Tenacious D. What music did you grow up on?
Led Zeppelin, of course, but that wasn't until later. The first song I remember listening to on the radio that I really liked was Abba's ‘Take A Chance On Me.'
What music would you take on a desert island, if you could just take a few pieces of your favourite music to Lilliput?
I would take the whole library of Led Zeppelin because that takes care of nine albums right there, all great. I would take some Stevie Wonder because I need some soul on my island. I'd take some Simon and Garfunkel for my more contemplative, mellow times.
Finally why do you think ‘Gulliver's Travels' is such an enduring and universally appealing story?
Well, it is just a masterpiece of imagination. It is so much fun to put yourself in this scenario where you are a giant and everyone else is tiny; because if you are a giant, no one can force you to do anything.