Jack Black Courts Controversy

In LifeZette interview, 'Goosebumps' star doesn't shy away from politics

Jack Black knows the fine line he and his cast mates had to walk to bring R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” book series to the big screen.

“It’s OK to scare, but not to traumatize,” Black told LifeZette in an interview, citing Stine’s one suggestion to the film’s creative team— “stay mindful of the audience. There’s no blood, for instance.”

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“Goosebumps” casts the comic actor as a fictionalized Stine, a paranoid author who keeps his daughter (Odeya Rush) cloistered away in their mansion. Yes, there’s something to hide in Stine’s formidable house. His manuscripts for the “Goosebumps” book series actually hold the creatures he concocted at bay. Of course that means someone, including Dylan Minnette as a curious teen, will mistakenly set them loose.

Rush said co-starring in a film based on a tween-favorite book series impressed her peer group more than she expected, which she found out when she broke the news that she was featured.

Black said Stine gave the project his blessing while cautioning them not to push the horror elements too far.

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“I went to a party a few days ago with a lot of people in their 20s,” the young actress told LifeZette during a promotional interview. “They were freaking out. They loved it so much growing up. It’s amazing to see how much [Stine] affected people’s lives and childhood.”

The famed author met with Black and “Goosebumps” director Rob Letterman before the cameras started rolling. Black said Stine gave the project his blessing while cautioning them not to push the horror elements too far.

The movie’s studio certainly picked the right personality to play the prickly version of Stine. Black may be known for comic performances in “School of Rock” and “High Fidelity,” but he proved a versatile talent in the underrated 2011 dramedy “Bernie.”

He also dabbles in more serious situations via his HBO comedy “The Brink,” focusing on geopolitical maneuvering at the highest levels. Black did something similar off-screen recently when he shot a video praising President Obama’s unpopular nuclear deal with Iran. Did the actor worry about any publicity fallout from the effort?

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“You do the things you think are right and let the chips fall where they may,” Black said. “My agent doesn’t care … they’re not worried about it. Sometimes controversy actually helps. Just ask, I don’t know, Kanye [West].”

Black, an outspoken liberal on many issues, suggested audiences appreciate celebrities who speak their mind on the issues of the day.

“Even if they don’t agree with it, people like it when people stand up for what they believe in or have a strong opinion,” he said. Later in the interview, after Black’s smartphone started to chirp, the actor cracked, “Sorry, my lawyer. Wants me to stop talking about Iran.”

There’s nothing remotely controversial about “Goosebumps,” and the cast insists audiences don’t have to know Stine’s work to appreciate its PG-rated frights. Black suggests those eager to do their homework beforehand pick up one essential book.

“All the characters R.L. Stine has ever written are locked inside the original manuscripts.”

“Read ‘The Blob That Ate Everyone.’ That actually was the source material for the whole conceit of the motive. All the characters R.L. Stine has ever written are locked inside the original manuscripts.”

The film may not replicated the book series’ success, but Black already has a certain kind of fame under his belt. His “Kung Fu Panda” series introduced the term, “Skadoosh” into the lexicon. The actor credits his “Nacho Libre” director Jared Hess for creating that mangled word.

“It feels great whenever I see something pop up in pop culture that I had a hand in. It’s the highest form of … flattery,” he said, his voice raising at the end for comic effect. Just don’t ask him to anticipate when it’ll happen again.

“I never think anything that comes out of my mouth will become a saying,” he said. “I’ve had a couple that haven’t caught on.”

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