Jack Black

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Jack Black
Black performing with Tenacious D in 2016
Thomas Jacob Black

(1969-08-28) August 28, 1969 (age 54)
Other names
  • JB
  • Jables
  • Jablinski
  • Jackalous McBlackelby
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • musician
Years active1982–present
(m. 2006)
PartnerLaura Kightlinger (1996–2005)
RelativesNeil Siegel (half-brother)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Member ofTenacious D
YouTube information
Years active2018–present
Subscribers5.01 million[1]
Total views218.1 million[1]
100,000 subscribers2018
1,000,000 subscribers2018

Last updated: November 16, 2023

Thomas Jacob Black (born August 28, 1969) is an American actor, comedian, and musician. He is known for roles in family and comedy films, in addition to his voice work in animated films. His awards include an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, and nominations for three Golden Globe Awards.

After portraying supporting roles in films including Dead Man Walking (1995), The Cable Guy (1996), Mars Attacks! (1996), and Enemy of the State (1998), Black had his breakout role in the musical film High Fidelity (2000). This led to larger roles in films like Shallow Hal (2001) and Orange County (2002), before he solidified his leading man status with his starring role in School of Rock (2003). He has since starred in King Kong (2005), The Holiday (2006), Nacho Libre (2006), Tropic Thunder (2008), Bernie (2011), Goosebumps (2016), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), and The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018). He has also voiced Po in the Kung Fu Panda franchise (2008–present) and Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023).

Black is the lead vocalist of the band Tenacious D, which he formed in 1994 with long-time friend Kyle Gass. They won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for "The Last in Line" in 2015. Since 2018, Black has operated a YouTube channel called Jablinski Games.[2]

Early life and education

Thomas Jacob Black[3] was born in Santa Monica, California,[4] on August 28, 1969,[5] the son of satellite engineers Thomas William Black and Judith Love Cohen.[6] He was raised in Hermosa Beach, California. His mother worked on the Minuteman nuclear missile guidance system, the Apollo lunar module guidance system and the science ground station for the Hubble Space Telescope, and was also a writer.[7][8][9] He has three older half-siblings through his mother: scientist Neil Siegel, Howard Siegel, and Rachel Siegel.[9] His mother was born Jewish, while his father converted to Judaism. Black was raised Jewish, attending Hebrew school and having a bar mitzvah.[10] His other ancestry includes English, German, Irish, Polish, Russian, and Scottish.[11][12]

Black's parents divorced when he was 10,[13] and his father then stopped practicing Judaism.[14][15] Black moved to Culver City with his father and frequently visited his mother's home. As a child, he appeared in a commercial for the Activision game Pitfall! in 1982.[16] For high school, Black's parents enrolled him at the Poseidon School, a private secondary school designed for students struggling in the traditional school system.[17] He also attended the Crossroads School, where he excelled in drama. He later attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),[18] but dropped out during his second year to pursue a career in entertainment.[19] Fellow UCLA student Tim Robbins later cast Black in Bob Roberts. In 1995 and 1996, he gained recurring roles in the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show.[20]

Acting career

1982–1999: Early roles

In 1982, Black's first acting job was in a television commercial at age 13 for the video game Pitfall!.[21] In 1987, Black joined the Actors' Gang, a theater troupe founded by UCLA students including Tim Robbins, and appeared in a variety of stage productions.[22] Black's adult career began with small roles on prime time television, including Life Goes On, Northern Exposure, Mr. Show, Picket Fences, The Golden Palace, and The X-Files. Black appeared in the unaired TV pilot Heat Vision and Jack, directed by Ben Stiller, in which he played an ex-astronaut pursued by actor Ron Silver. He was accompanied by his friend who had merged with a motorcycle, voiced by Owen Wilson.[23] After Tim Robbins cast him in Bob Roberts, Black began appearing in small film roles such as Airborne (1993), Demolition Man, Waterworld, The Fan, The Cable Guy, Mars Attacks!, Dead Man Walking, The Jackal, Crossworlds, Enemy of the State, and others. He had a small role in True Romance as a security guard, but the scene was deleted.[24]

2000–2014: Career stardom

Black in 2011

In 2000, Black co-starred in the film High Fidelity as a wild employee in a record store run by John Cusack. Black considers his role in High Fidelity as his breakout into the Hollywood scene.[25] He quickly gained leading roles in films such as Saving Silverman, Shallow Hal, Nacho Libre, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Year One, and Gulliver's Travels. He received particular praise for his starring role in the well-received School of Rock, earning critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy.[26] Black took part in the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? celebrity edition along with Denis Leary, Jimmy Kimmel, and others and was handed the prize of US$125,000 in October 2001.[27] He has also had starring voice-overs in animated features, including Zeke in Ice Age (2002)[28][29] and Lenny in Shark Tale (2004).[30][31] In 2004, Black guest-starred in the first episode of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim show Tom Goes to the Mayor.[32]

He starred in one of his few dramatic roles as the obsessed filmmaker Carl Denham in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong, a performance he based on Orson Welles. In 2006, he played the role of King Herod in a one night benefit concert of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre.[33] That same year he starred as the romantic love interest to Kate Winslet in the Nancy Meyers romantic comedy The Holiday (2006). Also in 2006, he starred in the comedy film Nacho Libre (2006), which he also produced, and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, which he also wrote and produced. In 2007 he took a supporting role in the Noah Baumbach directed comedy-drama film Margot at the Wedding starring Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. That same year he made a cameo appearance portraying Paul McCartney in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007). Black has voice acted on other occasions, including "Husbands and Knives" from The Simpsons, which aired November 18, 2007, portraying Milo, the friendly owner of the rival comic book store.[34] The following year he starred in the buddy comedy Be Kind Rewind (2008) opposite Mos Def and the war satire Tropic Thunder alongside Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. On December 14, he hosted the 2008 Spike Video Game Awards. Black has hosted the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and Acceptable.TV.[35]

Black at a Kung Fu Panda 2 premiere in June 2011

He voiced the title role in Kung Fu Panda, which grossed US$20.3 million on its opening day, June 6, 2008, as well as Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3; this is his favorite role, and he praises the tutoring of co-star and two-time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman.[36] In addition to Kung Fu Panda (2008),[37] He provided the voice of the main character, roadie Eddie Riggs, in the heavy metal–themed action-adventure video game Brütal Legend, for which he won the Best Voice award at the Spike Video Game Awards in 2009.[38] In 2009 he appeared in the post-Super Bowl episode of The Office along with Cloris Leachman and Jessica Alba in a fake movie within the show.[39] He starred in the Harold Ramis directed adventure comedy Year One (2009) alongside Michael Cera. In April 2009, Black starred in an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!, in which he vocalized children songs, such as "It's Not Fun to Get Lost", "Friends", and "The Goodbye Song".[40] Black voiced Darth Vader in Bad Lip Reading's parodies of the Star Wars original trilogy on YouTube.[41]

In 2010, Black made a guest appearance on Community[42] and also guest-starred on Nickelodeon's iCarly in an episode titled, "iStart a Fan War".[43][44] Black has appeared numerous times on the "untelevised TV network" short film festival Channel 101, created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, starring in the shows Computerman, Timebelt, and Laserfart. He also provided an introduction for the unaired sketch comedy Awesometown, donning a Colonial-era military uniform. In the introduction, he claims to be George Washington and takes credit for the accomplishments of other American presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.[citation needed] His next film, The Big Year, a competitive birdwatching comedy co-starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and JoBeth Williams, was released in October 2011.[45] Black garnered a second Golden Globe Award nomination, this time in the category Best Actor in a Comedy, for his 2011 starring role in Richard Linklater's black comedy Bernie. He played as real-life murderer Bernie Tiede, a funeral director in a small East Texas town, who befriends and eventually murders a rich widow, played by Shirley MacLaine. Black's subdued portrayal, authentic East Texas accent, and musical talent – he sings several gospel hymns as well as "Seventy-six Trombones" – had Roger Ebert describing Black's work as "one of the performances of the year."[46] He presented the tribute to Led Zeppelin when the band was named as 2012 recipients of Kennedy Center Honors.[47] In 2016, Black joined the climate change documentary show Years of Living Dangerously as one of its celebrity correspondents.[48] In 2018, Black appeared in the music video for Gorillaz song "Humility".[49]


Awkwafina, Black and Karen Gillan in 2019

In 2015, Black played a fictional version of real-life author R. L. Stine for Goosebumps, and provided the voices of two of Stine's creations, Slappy the Dummy and The Invisible Boy.[50] He reprised the Stine role in the film's 2018 sequel, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. He also voiced himself and many other additional characters on the animated YouTube series "Tenacious D in Post-Apocalypto", which he also co-directed and co-wrote, along with his Tenacious D partner Kyle Gass. In 2017 he portrayed a teenage girl inhabiting the body of Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon in the children's action adventure comedy film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. He starred alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan. The film received positive reviews and was a financial success.

The following year he took a supporting dramatic turn in the Gus Van Sant drama Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018). The film received critical acclaim and starred Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara and Jonah Hill. He reprised his role in the film's sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), which like the first film was also a box-office success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 2019. Also that year he starred in the children's fantasy film The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2019) alongside Cate Blanchett and Renée Elise Goldsberry. In 2022 he lent his voice to the Richard Linklater animated coming of age film Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood. Also that year he portrayed disc jockey Wolfman Jack in the Roku biographical parody film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022). Starting in 2022 he reprised the role of Po in the Netflix animated series Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight. He also guest starred on the Paramount+ series Big Nate and the Adult Swim series Rick and Morty.

The next year Black voiced Bowser in the Illumination's animated feature film The Super Mario Bros. Movie based on the Nintendo games. The film was released in April 2023 and was an international box office success ranking among one of the highest-grossing films of 2023.[51][52] That same year he also took roles as Joseph Stalin in the Mel Brooks Hulu comedy series History of the World, Part II and Captain Bombardier in Disney+ series The Mandalorian.[53] Black then reprised his role Po in Kung Fu Panda 4, and is set to voice Claptrap in Borderlands (2024), and play Steve in Minecraft (2025).[54][55][56]

Other ventures

Musical career

Black with Kyle Gass of Tenacious D

Black is the lead singer and guitarist for the comedy rock/hard rock band Tenacious D along with Kyle Gass.[57] They have released five albums, a self-titled debut, The Pick of Destiny, Rize of the Fenix, and Post-Apocalypto. One of their songs from their album The Pick of Destiny, titled "The Metal", was used in the music video games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock[58] and Brütal Legend.[59] "Rock Your Socks", from the album Tenacious D, was played in the music video game Rock Band Unplugged as well.[60] "Master Exploder" from The Pick Of Destiny went on to be used in music video games Guitar Hero Van Halen, Rock Band 2, and Brütal Legend, along with their song "Tribute" from Tenacious D. "Master Exploder" and "The Metal" featured in the comedy film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The film, directed by Tenacious D veteran Liam Lynch, featured recurring characters from Black's comedy such as Lee the super-fan and the Sasquatch. Several celebrities had roles in the film; actor Tim Robbins cameos as does Dave Grohl as Satan. Ben Stiller also makes an appearance as a worker at a Guitar Center, even having a role in the music video for "Tribute".[61]

Black performing in 2006

Tenacious D helped the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation[62] raise awareness of these diseases and funds for the organization in Los Angeles on December 20, 2001,[63] and in San Diego, California on June 16, 2007. Tenacious D can be seen performing in the 90s-era Pauly Shore film Bio-Dome where the duo is performing its song "The Five Needs" at a "Save the Environment" party. Black was also a guest star on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show entitled "Ellen the Musical", alongside Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth and teenage singer-actress Olivia Olson. On the show, besides singing, he discussed his then-upcoming film Nacho Libre with the host.

In 2000, Jack Black (along with Kyle Gass) provided backing vocals to punk rock band The Vandals' song "Fourteen", which appears on their album Look What I Almost Stepped In....[64] Black has also appeared on Dave Grohl's Probot album, providing vocals for the hidden song "I Am The Warlock", and Lynch's Fake Songs album, providing vocals for the song "Rock and Roll Whore". Black performed a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" in the last sequence of High Fidelity. He lent his musical abilities to the Queens of the Stone Age song "Burn the Witch" with rhythmic stomps and claps.[65] He also provided vocals for two tracks on the 2006 album Death by Sexy by Eagles of Death Metal, and on The Lonely Island's track "Sax Man" from the album Incredibad.

Black also recorded a duet on Meat Loaf's album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear, on the song "Like a Rose".[66] Meat Loaf also played Black's father in the Pick of Destiny movie. Black has appeared in music videos of Beck's "Sexx Laws"; Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly", "Low", and "The One"; The Eagles of Death Metal's "I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)"; Sum 41's "Things I Want"; Dio's "Push"; Weezer's "Photograph"; The Mooney Suzuki's "In a Young Man's Mind"; "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Tacky", and Die Antwoord's "Ugly Boy". In October 2010, Tenacious D appeared at BlizzCon 2010, a convention hosted by the game designers, Blizzard Entertainment. In 2012, Jack Black joined up with other celebrities to record "Book People Unite", a song sponsored by the Library of Congress and RIF.[67]

Black did guest vocals and appeared on the Dethklok soundtrack album The Doomstar Requiem.[68] He sings the parts for Dethklok's original band manager as well as a blogger. Black, as a member of Tenacious D, won the award for Best Metal Performance at the 57th Grammy Awards.[69] The song "The Last in Line" won the award, a cover of the song of the same name by Dio that appeared on the tribute album This Is Your Life.

YouTube channel

On December 21, 2018, Black created a YouTube channel called Jablinski Games.[70] Within one week of its launch, it had amassed over 1 million subscribers.[71] The videos published on the channel are typically either candid vlogs involving Black and his two sons, or gaming content.[72] Jack created the channel largely to bond with his son, who serves as videographer and editor of the channel.[73][74] On July 21, 2019, Black took part in a Minecraft stream with popular YouTuber PewDiePie to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in the wake of the suicide of Etika in June 2019. After two days of streaming, they raised $30,479 with the stream being broadcast live both on YouTube and on the streaming platform DLive.[75][76] As of June 2023, Jablinski Games has 5.04 million subscribers and 216 million video views.[77]

Production company

In August 2006, Black registered his own production company, Electric Dynamite Productions, Inc. The company's first work produced was the 2009 mockumentary Branson, which was a co-production with BranMo Productions and Perfect Weekend.[78] In 2011, the company would produce two TV-movies, My Life As an Experiment and Shredd.[79] In 2013, the company notably produced TV series Ghost Ghirls[80] for the now-defunct Yahoo! Screen, as well as obtained the rights to adapt the UK mockumentary Wizard's Way into a feature film.[81] The company would also be a producer credit on The D Train (2015) and The Polka King (2017), both of which featured Black in the starring role. The company produced The Aquabats! RadVentures! in 2018, the dark-comedy film Happily in 2021.[79]



Soundtrack albums

Title Album details
The Polka King
  • Released: January 12, 2018[82]
  • Label: Lakeshore
  • Format: Digital download, streaming

Charted songs

List of charted songs, with year released, selected chart positions, and album name shown
Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Kung Fu Fighting"
(with CeeLo Green)
2008 77 Kung Fu Panda soundtrack
"Peaches" 2023 56 91 52 75 13 28 48 The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Awards and nominations

Black has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards. On September 18, 2018, Black was inducted into Hollywood's Walk of Fame.[90]


Award ceremony Year Category Work Result Ref.
Annie Awards 2024 Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in a Feature Production The Super Mario Bros. Movie Nominated [91]
Children's and Family Emmy Awards 2023 Outstanding Voice Performance in a Children's or Young Teen Program Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight Won [92]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2013 Best Actor in a Comedy Bernie Nominated [93]
2024 Best Song "Peaches" Nominated [94]
Golden Globe Awards 2004 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy School of Rock Nominated [95]
2013 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Bernie Nominated
2024 Best Original Song "Peaches" Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards 2013 Best Male Lead Bernie Nominated [96]
Satellite Awards 2004 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical School of Rock Nominated [97]
2024 Best Original Song "Peaches" Nominated [98]

Personal life

Black encouraging people to wear face masks as part of California's "Your Actions Save Lives" campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020

At age 14, Black struggled with cocaine use. He said, "I was having a lot of troubles with cocaine ... I was hanging out with some pretty rough characters. I was scared to go to school because one of them wanted to kill me. I wanted to get out of there."[99] One of Black's brothers, Howard, died of AIDS in 1991 at age 36.[99] His oldest brother, Neil, is an engineer, scientist, and musician.[100]

Black dated actress Laura Kightlinger between 1996 and 2005.[101][102][103][104][105][excessive citations] In January 2006, Black became engaged to singer Tanya Haden, a daughter of jazz bassist Charlie Haden. They had both attended Crossroads School, and 15 years after graduating they met again at a friend's birthday party. They married on March 14, 2006, in Big Sur, California.[106][107] Their sons were born in 2006 and 2008.[108][109]

Although an atheist,[110][111] Black identifies as nominally Jewish, and fatherhood influenced his decision to raise his children in the Jewish faith.[112]

Black endorsed Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.[113] In 2015, he visited Kampala as part of Comic Relief USA's Red Nose Day.[114] Black was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. On the day of Trump's presidential inauguration, he and Tenacious D bandmate Kyle Gass performed their 2006 protest song "The Government Totally Sucks". Black said to the audience beforehand, "We haven't played it for years, because it just never felt appropriate—but now, we're happy to unleash the beast. The government totally sucks."[115] Before the 2022 election, Black hosted a letter and text writing party to rally VoteRiders volunteers engaged in educating eligible voters about voter ID requirements in their states.[116] Of the 2022 midterms, he said, "[S]o much is on the ballot this cycle. We've got a woman's right to choose. The environment is on the ballot, environmental protections. And not to mention democracy is on the ballot. There's so, there's so many divides in this country right now." Black said he views a potential reelection bid by Trump as a threat that is "always lurking in the background."[117]


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External links

Preceded by MTV Movie Awards host
2002 (with Sarah Michelle Gellar)
Succeeded by
Preceded by MTV Video Music Awards host
Succeeded by
no host