Jack Black plays fictional version of real life author in ‘Goosebumps’
American writer and producer Robert Lawrence Stine, or simply “R.L. Stine,” is best known as the “Stephen King of children’s literature.” Having written hundreds of horror fiction novels, among them Fear Street, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room, Stine is finally getting his share of the world-wide spotlight—outside the best-selling list—in a major motion picture titled after another one of his popular books.
Meet R.L. Stine in Goosebumps via top comic actor Jack Black. The movie is set to bring the book series to life for the first time, combining dozens of the author’s famous creations into one hilariously spine-tingling movie.
In an interview for Columbia Pictures, Black (Kung Fu Panda, King Kong) said he really had to put in the work to make Stine a completely unique character.
“When I read the script a few times, I felt like the character needed to look and sound different than me – it couldn’t be like the dude from School of Rock is now the writer R.L. Stine,” he related. “No, it needed to be a character that I haven’t played before, someone with a little more gravitas, a respected writer. So, I worked on his voice, and I decided to give him a little bit of an Orson Wells-ian accent. Refined. I wanted him to be someone with a taste for the finer things.”
Naturally, Black’s character is nothing like the real R.L. Stine, who in real life is actually a jovial fellow.
“I like to play characters, to get behind the façade,” added Black. “When I get into an accent, or a character who’s different from myself, it frees me up to do things I wouldn’t normally do—I get embarrassed saying certain lines or doing certain things if it feels like I’m doing it myself. Putting on a mask and a voice frees you up to express yourself better.”
As a result, it doesn’t matter that he’s nothing like the real-life Stine; Black’s character is hilarious and perfect for the movie.
“The funniest parts of my character are his vanity and pride about his track record,” Black continued. “There was ample opportunity for him to get on a high horse and remind the others that he’s better than they are.”
Meanwhile, director Rob Letterman said of Black, “This was my third time working with Jack, so we’ve gotten used to each other. It was very cool to see him sink his teeth into this, because I know he’s a classically trained actor and has amazing acting chops, but the rest of the world always thinks of him as Jack Black the comedian. So it was really nice for him to do both, and it was also incredibly helpful for the movie, because Jack helps navigate the tone – he lets people know that the movie is okay for kids, but at the same time, yes, we could get a little bit of edge in there.”
In Goosebumps teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), upset about moving from a big city to a small town, finds a silver lining when he meets a beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door, and makes a quick friend in Champ (Ryan Lee). But since every silver lining has a cloud, Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah’s mysterious dad is in fact R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the best-selling Goosebumps series.
As Zach starts learning about the strange family next door, he soon discovers that Stine holds a dangerous secret: the creatures that his stories made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books.
When Stine’s creations are unintentionally released from their manuscripts, Zach’s life takes a turn for the weird. In a crazy night of adventure, it’s up to Zach, Hannah, Champ, and Stine to team up and get all of these figments of Stine’s imagination – including Slappy the Dummy, the girl with the haunted mask, the gnomes and many more—back in the books where they belong to save the town.
Opening across the Philippines on October 21, Goosebumps is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.