Jack Black has had a pretty extensive acting career, having appeared or starred in over 50 feature films to date. While the actor may have started out in drama, he’s of course best known for his skills in comedy. Taking on everything from musical comedies like School of Rock to animated film franchises like Kung Fu Panda, Black has cemented himself as one of Hollywood’s leading funny men.
Most recently, he’s showing off his talents in the film adaptation of Goosebumps, which premiered this month just in time for Halloween. With the movie now in theaters, we’re taking a look back at some of Black’s other notable roles from his career. Below, check out five of his best big-screen performances to date.
1. High Fidelity
This 2000 comedy drama marked that role for Black — the role that propelled everyone else to sit up and realize this guy is the real deal. The actor gave a star-making performance as the scornful know-it-all record store employee Barry, who insults customers and never bothers worrying about hurting someone’s feelings. Since this movie, we’ve seen Black sneer, mock, and wiggle his eyebrows too many times to count. But this was one of the first times we witnessed his (now all-too-familiar) eccentric style, and it was pretty unforgettable. Bonus: This was also the first time he showed off his impressive pipes, delivering a jaw-dropping, soulful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
2. School of Rock
Over a decade later, School of Rock still stands as one of Black’s most well-known and well received films to date. The 2003 film featured the actor in one of his most exuberant and appealing performances ever. Black earned overwhelming praise for his high-energy, consistently hilarious turn as rock musician-turned-subsitute teacher Dewey Finn. The comedy was the perfect vehicle for Black to let loose as his tireless, giddy self, and his portrayal helped make the film the smash hit it was.
3. The Holiday
The 2006 movie may be pure rom-com cheese, but Black has never been sweeter or more likable than he is playing the loyal nice guy, Miles. As his character gets his heart broken and then eventually falls for Kate Winslet’s Iris, Black displays a charisma that, while still funny, is much more low-key and reined-in than his typical nuttiness. Even those who don’t usually count themselves as Black fans will find themselves (grudgingly) sympathizing with him.
4. Kung Fu Panda
In this family-friendly animated adventure flick, Black lends his voice to Po, a clumsy panda bear who becomes an unlikely kung fu hero when a treacherous enemy spreads chaos throughout the countryside. The lively comedy seems tailor-made for Black, who brings some of his slapstick brand of humor and plenty of enthusiasm to the role. As the New York Daily News described of the character, “[Po]’s got Black’s outsized personality.”
This 2012 satirical comedy stars Black as the titular character, an affable mortician who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow and must then go to great lengths to separate himself from her grasp. Black earned rave reviews for his surprisingly restrained performance, which critics labeled one of the best of his career (and which earned the actor a Golden Globe nod). As NPR put it, “The wonder of Black’s performance here is its empathy and balance: inasmuch as he can disappear into any role, he dissolves into this one with no hint of mocking remove. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
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