If you’ve seen Jack Black in his convincing performance of the obnoxious man-child in School of Rock, you might expect that he’d be banned from child-rearing.
But, like his character Dewey Finn who connects with children in a unique way, the real-life father of two is raising his two sons to embrace their talents, overcome insecurities, and act with confidence.
Showcasing his over-the-top comedic prowess, Jack Black, 53, is widely known for his starring roles in Shallow Hal (2001) with Gwyneth Paltrow, Orange County (2002) with Colin Hanks, the son of Tom Hanks, and for voicing the lead character Po Ping in the Kung Fu Panda franchise.
Playing a rocker in School of Rock (2003) wasn’t too far a stretch for Black, who’s released four albums with his comedy-band Tenacious D, that won a Grammy Award in 2015 for its cover of the Dio song, “The Last in the Line.”
In the film, Black’s exaggerated performance of a lazy musician, who uses his position as a teacher to influence young over-achievers into being cool, is what made the film hilarious.
But in real life, the award-winning actor demonstrates that he’s a great mentor to his two boys, Sammy (born 2006) and Tommy (born 2008), that he shares with cellist Tanya Haden, whom he married in 2006.
Sammy, with his messy, curly hair, looks just like Black, and even wants to make a film about his father’s adventures in Hollywood.
“Sammy, my (then) 15-year-old, gets a kick out of some of my stories that I tell him about Hollywood adventures,” Black said in an interview with People in 2022. “He was like, ‘Hey, can I make a movie about some of your Hollywood adventures? But I won’t say that it’s you.’ I’m like, ‘You bet. You go. Run with it, my son. My stories are your stories. That is what I can bestow upon you.’”
Sammy started young and had a small part of voicing the bunny, in Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016), where his father reprised his role as the giant panda, a fierce fighter who channels the energy of the universe.
While both boys are expressing interest in filmmaking–Black said they each created mini films on their iPhones–the younger boy Tommy, who might have gotten inspiration from Kung Fu Panda, has taken a liking to martial arts, and practicing with Black, he pulls some Ninja moves on his dad in the home.
Like all parents, Black has his own style of raising children, revealing that under supervision, he allows his sons to watch movies that they “probably shouldn’t” see.
Joking that he “wins bad parent of the year,” for his unique style of parenting, Black said, “As long as you have the remote in hand so if something gets out of control, you can pause and have a little talk. As long as you’re there and aware of what’s going on and you’re ready to talk to them or ready to leave if it’s too intense.”
Despite his unconventional parenting, the Jumanji star shared that he worries about his children, a lot, and that he wants to be a supportive parent.
“…it’s harder than you think when you first start. Because you’re always wondering, ‘Am I doing this right? I don’t know If I’m doing the right parenting thing.’ But you do the best you can, and you hope for the best.” Black said in April 2023, when he was speaking about his new film release, Super Mario Bros. “I just want them to be happy…I mean, the hard thing is that being the child of a celebrity is not easy. It has some special stresses that are not (typical of) normal childhood stuff.”
Black, the actor-singer, is a devoted father who is also learning from his sons.
Voicing Bowser in Super Mario Bros., Black said wasn’t too familiar with the antagonist character in the Nintendo franchise, and that it was his boys who introduced him to the fire-breathing creature.
“Donkey Kong was such a huge part of my childhood. But my boys first introduced me to Bowser because I didn’t even play that until they were playing their Nintendo Switches,” he told People. “Bowser was obviously the coolest character in the universe. And when I got the offer, it was an instant no-brainer. Like, ‘Yes.’ Stoked to play that character.”
His advice for parenting, “Listen. Listen to your kids. There’s a lot of importance put on giving the right advice. But dude, even more important is actually just listening because that’s so important for their communication skills, to know that someone’s listening, and for them to get the practice to form ideas.”
Now that his boys are teenagers and growing quickly, they want some distance from dad. “They’re teenagers like any teenager: They want to get as far away from me as possible,” he said, adding they were “…stoked about The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” and accompanied their dad to the premiere.
In 2018, after the release of The House With a Clock in Its Walls, Black said he’s the “dorky dad,” but maybe Super Mario Bros. will be “the turning point where they go, ‘Oh, my God, Dad. You’re so cool.’”
It’s fun to see the children of one of Hollywood’s most wanted comedy actors, and it will be great to follow them through their careers!
What do you think of Jack Black and wha is your favorite movie that he’s appeared?