Jack Black

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Jack Black
Jack Black.jpg
Born August 28, 1969 in Hermosa Beach, California, USA
Years Active
Member of Tenacious D

Jack Black is an American actor, musician, comedian, writer and producer best known for his appearances in such films as High Fidelity, Shallow Hal, The School of Rock and King Kong. Due to his appearances in these films, he has been dubbed a member of the Frat Pack by the media. He has had major TV appearances on Mr. Show with Bob and David and is a member of the rock band Tenacious D, who had their own show on HBO.



Thomas J. Black (nicknamed "Jack" as a child) was born on August 28, 1969 in Hermosa Beach, California, where he was raised. Both his father Thomas Black and his mother Judy Cohen were satellite engineers who had four total children from previous marriages, and although religiously Jewish (his father had converted before marrying Judy), were part of the swinging, free-wheeling lifestyle of 70s Southern California. When Black was very young, his parents joined the nudist free-love cult Family Synergy, where they were encouraged to trade partners. Judy became jealous of Thomas' girlfriend (on whom young Jack also had a crush) and physically abused her, and the two divorced when Jack was ten. Thereafter, Black lived with Judy in nearby Culver City.

At Hebrew school, Black was the class clown. He was interested in acting from an early age. His first screen role was in an Atari commercial when he was thirteen. He would later say his next role—in a commercial for the children's cartoon merchandising Smurfberry Crunch cereal—destroyed the geek-chic kudos he had received for his work in the video game ad. He also developed a drug habit while attending Culver City Middle School and stole money from his mother for cocaine.

Although frequently compared to Robin Williams and Jim Carrey—both of whom were comedians who became actors—Black was an actor who became a comedian. He first attended the public Culver City High School, but he was not interested in academics and was himself worried further exposure to the public school system would exacerbate his drug problem. He therefore soon transferred to the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, where he performed in readings of poetry and writings by Bertolt Brecht. He also underwent therapy to quit the drugs. At Crossroads, he met music student Tanya Haden, who would play a much more significant role in his life decades later.

Aside from acting, by this time, Black was also very interested in music. His fascination with heavy rock began with one of the tenants at his mother's house, a journalist who introduced Black to Fleetwood Mac and Simon & Garfunkel. By age 13, Black moved from Styx and Journey to Ozzy Osbourne, and his musical tastes throughout his teens tended towards heavy metal and hard rock. He wrote his own songs—many of them comic and ribald, a foreshadowing of his work with Tenacious D—and joined a band. However, while playing a high school party, the band noticed not one person was listening to their rendition of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. The humiliation temporarily ended Black's musical career.

After high school, Black studied theater at the University of California Los Angeles, but he was no more interested in academics there than he had been at Culver City High. He began to hang around The Actors' Gang, a theater troupe founded and run by UCLA alumnus Tim Robbins. After less than two years at UCLA, Black dropped out to join The Actors' Gang. The move cost him the financial support he had been receiving from his father. There, he met fellow Gang member Kyle Gass, whom he learned had similar musical and comic tastes. Black's association with the Gang also landed him his first film role in Bob Roberts, Robbins' 1992 directorial debut, as Roger Davis, a crazed fan of the titular ultra-conservative, folk-singing Senate candidate.

For the remainder of the decade, Black made many film appearances ranging from Waterworld to The Cable Guy to Robbins' Oscar-winning film Dead Man Walking, although he often lost roles to Philip Seymour Hoffman. On TV, he made appearances in everything from The X-Files to Touched by an Angel to The Single Guy. He also made several appearances on the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David, often rocking out. His most memorable appearance in that series was in the episode 2x03 - "The Biggest Failure in Broadway History". In the sketch "Jeepers Creepers Superstar," a parody of the 1973 hippied-out film adaptation of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Black plays Jeepers Creepers, an overweight slacker messiah modeled after the role of Jesus in the film. There was a dark side, however, to Black's rising success, as he again turned to drugs.

By 1994, Black and Gass had been writing music together and playing together for five years. Gass had taught Black to play guitar, and their work was becoming more sophisticated. They at last made their foray into the LA comedy scene, where they billed themselves as the band Tenacious D—two overweight, acoustic musicians convinced of their destiny as stadium rock stars. The comic band gained recognition, and as Black began to take more control of his career, he again kicked the drugs and moved out of his mother's house. In 1997, he began a relationship with comedienne and actress Laura Kightlinger which would last eight years. In 1999, HBO gave Tenacious D their own self-titled show, executive produced by Mr. Show co-headliner Bob Odenkirk.

As the 1990s drew to a close, Black was a "that guy" and cult hit comedian/rock star on the verge of becoming a major success, but his "big break" eluded him. Director Ben Stiller had cast him as a lead in a pilot for FOX, Heat Vision and Jack, about an astronaut (Black) who gains super-powers and fights crime with the help of his best friend (played by Owen Wilson), whose spirit has been put into a super-motorcycle. However, FOX sat on the series and refused to run it or even screen the pilot. It seemed as though Black's career had been dealt another setback, but the first few months of the new millennium would see his rise to become one of the highest-paid and most sought-after actors in Hollywood.

As soon as it became clear Heat Vision and Jack was a no-go, Black's Bob Roberts co-star, fellow Actor's Gang hanger-on and Tenacious D fan John Cusack recommended him for a role in the film High Fidelity. Black played Barry, an employee at Cusack's Rob Gordon's record store. It was one of the most daring breakout roles in the history of Hollywood cinema. Loutish, snide, a hopeless music nerd convinced his own band is destined for greatness, Barry has the lion's share of the most quoted lines in the film. However, in the climax, with his soulful rendition of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, Barry reveals a sensitive side shocking for a character so much in the "wisecracking sidekick" mold of romantic comedy characters. The role almost seemed tailor-made for Black, who thoroughly inhabited the character. The film's director Stephen Frears would later say of Black and his career up to High Fidelity, "People say, 'Oh you discovered him,' but you haven't, it's just that you're present when they decide to let rip. If I'm being honest, I think he kept his head down and then for some reason decided to lift it." His work in High Fidelity garnered Black American Comedy and Chicago Film Critics Association Award nominations, and he won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor - Comedy/Romance.

His next film, 2001's Saving Silverman was also his first million-dollar payday, but although a cult hit, it received little critical attention. He also starred in Shallow Hal later that year, yet another disappointing follow-up to the Farrelly Brothers' 1998 smash sleeper hit There's Something About Mary. However, Black would find greater critical success in 2002 with his role as Lance Brumder in the indie cult hit Orange County. In 2003, he solidified his position as a comic leading man in The School of Rock, a lightweight but wildly successful comedy about a burn-out in a lousy rock band who becomes a substitute teacher at a private school and transforms the awkward, shy kids' lives by introducing them to 60s, 70s and 80s classic rock and heavy metal—Dead Poets Society meets Pink Floyd, but with a happy ending. In June 2004, when USA Today coined the term "Frat Pack" to refer to the clique of highly-paid, successful Hollywood stars who defined hipness for the 2000s, Black's name (along with Stiller and Wilson) was included on the list. In 2005, he received rave reviews for his performance in the complex, layered role of Carl Denham in director Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong. Although Black's name was circulated as an Academy Award nominee frontrunner, the film's disappointing box office led to it being snubbed at the awards in all but a handful of technical categories. Later, Black also admitted to having once again used drugs (in this case, ecstasy) on the set of the film.

Shortly before King Kong was released, Black split from his longtime girlfriend Kightlinger. Months later, in early 2006, he married his high school classmate Tanya Haden, whom he had met again in 2005 at a friend's birthday party. She gave birth to his first son, Samuel Jason, on June 10, 2006. That summer also saw the release of Black's highest grossing film which he headlined to date, the critically panned Nacho Libre. That autumn, he released the first Tenacious D movie, Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny".

Black continues to work in film and television, and he is still active as a member of Tenacious D. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.


Starring Roles

Series Role Year(s) Season(s)
Tenacious D Jack Black 1997–2000 1
The Brink Alex Robbins 2015 1

Guest Starring Roles

Series Role Episode Airdate
The Golden Palace Taxi Driver 1x08 - Seems Like Old Times (2) November 6, 1992
Life Goes On Skinhead 4x11 - Incident on Main January 10, 1993
Northern Exposure Kevin Wilkins 5x05 - A River Doesn't Run Through It October 25, 1993
Monty Doug 1x09 - Eggheads unaired (1994)
All-American Girl Tommy 1x17 - A Night at the Oprah February 14, 1995
Pride & Joy Man 1x06 - Brenda's Secret May 2, 1995
The X-Files Bart "Zero" Liquori 3x03 - D.P.O. October 6, 1995
Picket Fences Curtis Williams 4x05 - Dog Eat Dog October 20, 1995
Touched by an Angel Monte 2x05 - Angels on the Air October 21, 1995
Mr. Show with Bob and David Voice of God / Farmer / Satan 1x02 - "What to Think" November 11, 1995
The Single Guy Randy 1x08 - Sister November 16, 1995
Mr. Show with Bob and David Flag Expert 1x04 - "Who Let You In?" November 24, 1995
The Single Guy Randy 1x09 - Attraction December 7, 1995
Picket Fences Curtis Williams 4x12 - Snow Exit January 19, 1996
Mr. Show with Bob and David Jeepers Creepers 2x03 - "The Biggest Failure in Broadway History" November 29, 1996
Mr. Show with Bob and David Gay Guy / Movie Fan / Lost Movie Fan 2x06 - "The Velveteen Touch of a Dandy Fop" December 20, 1996
MADtv Tenacious D member 7x27 - Episode 722 April 27, 2002
Saturday Night Live Tenacious D member 23x19 - Matthew Broderick/Natalie Merchant May 2, 1998
Saturday Night Live Host 27x11 - Jack Black/The Strokes January 19, 2002
Crank Yankers Jack Black 1x03 - Episode 103 June 16, 2002
Clone High Pusher / Larry Hardcore 1x08 - Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three Acts December 15, 2002
On the Spot Tenacious D member 1x02 - Little Brenda Dynamite March 27, 2003
Saturday Night Live Host 29x01 - Jack Black/John Mayer October 4, 2003
Will & Grace Dr. Isaac Hershberg 6x07 - Nice in White Satin November 13, 2003
Cracking Up Bruce Philapousis 1x03 - Scared Straight March 15, 2004
Tom Goes to the Mayor J.B. 1x01 - Bear Trap Brothers November 14, 2004
Saturday Night Live Host 31x09 - Jack Black/Neil Young December 17, 2005
The Simpsons Milo 19x07 - Husbands and Knives November 18, 2007

Specials and Made-for-TV Movies

Title Role Airdate Series/Banner
Marked for Murder Car Thief January 17, 1993
The Innocent Marty Prago September 25, 1994
Heat Vision and Jack Jack unaired (scheduled for ca. September 1, 1999)
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Himself May 9, 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
Reel Comedy: Saving Silverman Himself February 12, 2001 Reel Comedy
2002 MTV Movie Awards Host June 6, 2002 MTV Movie Awards
The Teen Choice Awards 2002 Presenter August 19, 2002 Teen Choice Awards
Night of Too Many Stars Performer May 31, 2003
2003 MTV Movie Awards Host August 28, 2003 MTV Movie Awards
10th Anniversary Special Himself September 14, 2003 Late Night with Conan O'Brien
The 46th Annual Grammy Awards Presenter February 8, 2004 Grammy Awards
The 76th Annual Academy Awards Presenter February 29, 2004 Academy Awards
2004 MTV Movie Awards Winner June 10, 2004 MTV Movie Awards
Shark Tale: Gettin' Fishy with It Himself October 11, 2004
St. Richard of Austin Himself December 13, 2004
The British Comedy Awards 2004 Himself December 22, 2004 British Comedy Awards
Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast Himself September 9, 2005
Earth to America Himself November 20, 2005
It's All Gone King Kong Himself December 18, 2005
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards '06 Himself April 1, 2006 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
MTV Video Music Awards 2006 Host August 31, 2006 MTV Video Music Awards
Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education Singer, "Autism's Night to Shine" October 15, 2006

Talk, News and Game Show Appearances

Series Episode Airdate
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 1255 April 21, 2000
Late Show with David Letterman Show 1549 February 2, 2001
Late Show with David Letterman Show 1701 November 5, 2001
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 1500 November 7, 2001
Space Ghost Coast to Coast Sweet for Brak November 18, 2001
The Daily Show Jack Black (January 10, 2002) January 10, 2002
Late Show with David Letterman Show 1737 January 10, 2002
Rage Tenacious D Guest Program Rage July 13, 2002
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross November 1, 2002
Primetime Glick Eric McCormack / Jack Black May 7, 2003
Tinseltown TV August 23, 2003
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno September 26, 2003
Diary Jack Black: Rockology 101 September 28, 2003
The Daily Show Jack Black (September 29, 2003) September 29, 2003
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 1802 October 2, 2003
Entertainment Tonight October 13, 2003
Rove Live November 11, 2003
Player$ Tenacious D a la Mode December 13, 2003
World Poker Tour Hollywood Home Game 1 January 25, 2004
The Film Programme February 3, 2004
Sunday Morning Shootout March 21, 2004
Eigo de shabera-night April 26, 2004
The Film Programme October 11, 2004
Total Request Live December 5, 2005
Corazón de... December 7, 2005
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross December 9, 2005
Today December 12, 2005
The Film Programme December 12, 2005
Late Show with David Letterman Show 2474 December 12, 2005
Live with Regis & Kelly December 13, 2005
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 2161 December 15, 2005
The Film Programme December 29, 2005
WWE Velocity February 11, 2006
The Film Programme March 13, 2006
Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show Ellen: The Musical! May 24, 2006
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Show 3161 June 13, 2006
HypaSpace June 15, 2006
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Show 307 June 21, 2006
Access Hollywood June 22, 2006
HypaSpace October 24, 2006
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross November 3, 2006
Late Night with Conan O'Brien November 15, 2006

Notable Film Roles

Film Role Released
Bob Roberts Roger Davis 1992
The NeverEnding Story III Slip, Leader of the Nasties 1994
Waterworld Pilot 1995
Dead Man Walking Craig Poncelet 1995
Bio-Dome Tenacious D member 1996
The Cable Guy Rick 1996
Bongwater Devlin 1997
The Jackal Ian Lamont 1997
Enemy of the State Fiedler 1998
High Fidelity Barry 2000
Saving Silverman J.D. McNugent 2001
Shallow Hal Hal Larson 2001
Run Ronnie Run Lead Chimney Sweep 2002
Orange County Lance Brumder 2002
Ice Age Zeke 2002
Melvin Goes to Dinner Mental Patient 2003
The School of Rock Dewey Finn 2003
Envy Nick Vanderpark 2004
Shark Tale Lenny 2004
King Kong Carl Denham 2005
Nacho Libre Nacho 2006
Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny" Tenacious D member 2006
The Holiday Miles 2006
Kung Fu Panda Po 2008


Series Produced

Series Year(s) Credit Season(s)
Tenacious D 1997 –2000 Executive Producer 1
Acceptable.TV 2007 Executive Producer 1
The Brink 2015 Producer 1


Series Created

Series Premiere Date Creation Credit
Tenacious D November 28, 1997 Co-Creator

Episode Writer

Memorable Moments

Awards and Accolades

  • Golden Globes, Motion Picture
    • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - The School of Rock
  • American Comedy Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (2000) - High Fidelity
  • Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, USA
    • Won: Favorite Supporting Actor - Comedy/Romance (2000) - High Fidelity
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (2000) - High Fidelity
  • DVD Exclusive Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Best Supporting Actor in a DVD Premiere Movie (2003) - Melvin Goes to Dinner
    • Won: Best Original Song in a DVD Premiere Movie (2003) - "The Golden Rule Song," Run Ronnie Run
  • MTV Movie Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Best Music Moment (2000) - "Let's Get It On," High Fidelity
    • Nominated: Breakthrough Male Performance (2000) - High Fidelity
    • Won: Best Comedic Performance (2003) - The School of Rock
    • Nominated: Best On-Screen Team (2003) - The School of Rock - with Aleisha Allen, Rebecca Brown, Kevin Alexander Clark, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Caitlin Hale, Maryam Hassan & Robert Tsai
  • Online Film Critics Society Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (2000) - High Fidelity
  • Satellite Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (2003) - The School of Rock
  • ShoWest Convention Special Awards, USA
    • Won: Comedy Star of the Year (2004)
  • Teen Choice Awards, USA
    • Nominated: Film - Choice Actor, Comedy (2001-02) - Shallow Hal
    • Nominated: Choice Comedian (2003-04)
    • Nominated: Choice Movie Actor - Comedy (2003-04) - The School of Rock
    • Nominated: Choice Movie Liar (2003-04) - The School of Rock
    • Nominated: Movie - Choice Rumble (2005-06) - Nacho Libre - with Cesar Gonzalez
    • Nominated: Movies - Choice Actor: Comedy (2005-06) - Nacho Libre
    • Nominated: Movies - Choice Chemistry (2005-06) - Nacho Libre - with Héctor Jiménez
    • Nominated: Movies - Choice Sleazebag (2005-06) - King Kong


  • As a child, hid loose wires in his shirt sleeves and let them fall out to pretend he was a robot.
  • First acting role was as the Wizard in a production of "The Wizard of Oz" for his summer camp when he was eight.
  • Former Actors' Gang cohort and roommate Ned Bellamy claims Black's public persona is deliberately styled after the Artful Dodger, the puckish young pickpocket from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist who becomes the leader of a gang of child criminals.
  • Took the name "Tenacious D" from a description of a basketball player's defense by sportscaster Marv Albert.
  • Had a small role in the film True Romance but was left on the cutting room floor.
  • One of his most memorable scenes in High Fidelity, the film which made him a star, involves Black and John Cusack beating the crap out of Black's former mentor, Tim Robbins.
  • First met Mike White, the screenwriter of Orange County, The School of Rock and Nacho Libre, when the two were neighbors in the Hollywood Hills.
  • Had his gall bladder removed in 2003 to stop gallstone problems he's had since he was 16 years old.
  • Is an avid video gamer, to the extent that Kyle Gass calls it his job.
  • Is a devoted advocate of the Democratic Party, and has campaigned for Democratic candidates.