Jack Black is the 'Kung Fu Panda'

Jack Black says his “panda-esque” qualities are what sealed the deal for him to voice the animated character Po in DreamWorks’ new movie “Kung Fu Panda.”

The film, which opens Friday, follows the adventures of a young, physically challenged panda who wants to become a kung fu master rather than work in his father’s noodle restaurant.

“There are definitely striking similarities between me and Po,” Black said during recent promotional interviews in Beverly Hills along with Dustin Hoffman, who lends his voice to the kung fu master, Shifu.

“Yeah I feel like I’m panda-esque because I’m roly-poly,” Black says. “That’s the main one. But I’m also cuddly, furry, and my beard has black and white now that I’m getting older.”

But what really attracted Black to the role was the opportunity to live out his kung fu fantasies. He says he was sold on kung fu after watching Bruce Lee movies and the “Kung Fu” TV series with David Carradine.

“Kung fu seemed like the wisest of the martial arts,” says the actor, who progressed to a yellow belt when he took lessons as a youngster. “So this was my chance to explore that world a bit and get back in touch with my inner child.”

Black, who also voiced Lenny the shark in 2004’s “Shark Tale,” says that doing animated films is hard work, but he’s getting used to the process.

Hoffman, who had never before done an animated movie, says it took a while for him to get accustomed to the flow and not working with actors all the time.

“I was so glad that I had at least one day to work with Jack,” Hoffman says. “I would have loved to done the whole thing together with him. He’s a phenomenal talent. During that entire time we spent, he had me cracking up.”

Black still has people cracking up from his performance on the finale of “American Idol” in which he, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. danced as the Pips during a montage featuring old footage of Gladys Knight.

Black, Stiller and Downey star in the upcoming “Tropic Thunder,” a spoof of war films opening Aug. 15.

Having played a shark and a panda, Black says he is up for portraying more animals, particularly fast runners. He says, “I’d actually like to be a cheetah. That’s always been my favorite animal because of its speed. … The Flash is also my favorite superhero because he ran at the speed of light. I don’t know why I like the fastest of all things because I am not certainly the fastest. These days I move a lot like Po does in ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ He’s motivated by food and so am I. We really do have a lot in common.”

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The sidewalk on Egbert Avenue in the Bayview recently was cluttered with car parts, tires and other junk. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
New surveillance effort aims to crack down on illegal dumping

’We want to make sure we catch people who are trashing our streets’

The recall election for California Gov. Gavin Newsom is scheduled for Sept. 14. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF could play a big role in overcoming Democrat apathy, driving voter turnout for Newsom

San Francisco voters are not used to swaying elections. Just think of… Continue reading

Health care workers treat a Covid-19 patient who needs to be intubated before being put on a ventilator at Providence St. Mary Medical Center during a surge of cases in Apple Valley, Dec. 17, 2020. Confronted with surging infections, California became the first state in the country to mandate coronavirus vaccines or testing for state employees and health-care workers. (Ariana Drehsler/The New York Times)
In California, a mix of support and resistance to new vaccine rules

By Shawn Hubler, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Soumya Karlamangla New York Times SACRAMENTO… Continue reading

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

Most Read