Jack Black on ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Sequel

Jack Black is patiently waiting for Universal Pictures and Illumination to greenlight a sequel to the animated box office smash “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”

“It has been radio silence,” Black tells Variety. “The only chatter has been coming from me, and I don’t even know if I’m allowed to chatter. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back to business.”

On this episode of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk to Black about co-writing the hilarious and power ballad “Peaches” for the animated feature and what an Oscar nomination would mean to him in his career. In addition, he reflects on some of his audacious career and performs a quick acapella song using the host’s name. Listen below!

Based on the popular Nintendo video game series, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” follows two plumber brothers who travel to a magical underworld to save a captured princess from the villainous Bowser. In addition to Black, the voice cast includes Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlie Day.

Black has proven to be a capable comedic actor with memorable (and arguably Oscar-snubbed) roles in movies like “Bernie” and “School of Rock,” both from director Richard Linklater. Interestingly, Black is one of four actors known primarily for their comedies who could get their first Oscar noms in non-acting categories. The others are Seth Rogen (producer of the animated feature “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”), Will Ferrell (if deemed eligible, as a producer of “May December”) and Adam Sandler (producer of the animated feature “Leo”).

Dan Doperalski for Variety

Black co-wrote “Peaches” with Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Eric Osmond, and John Spiker, but the idea of the song didn’t come until halfway through the making of the film. “I don’t like to mix my music and movies, unless they told me at the beginning,” Black says. “I’m real protective of the Tenacious D side of my career. They sent me a 30-second nugget of an idea, and it was hilarious. So I fleshed it out, added some lyrics and melody, and they loved it. And by God, they put it in the film. I couldn’t believe they did.”

Regarding a potential sequel, Black has been thinking a lot about what it could look like, including a possible title that he pitches — “Bowser’s Revenge.” He even talks about how it could be structured: “I think it should be a full musical, like what Todd Phillips is supposedly doing with ‘Joker 2.’”

Next on the docket for Black is a role in Eli Roth’s “Borderlands” alongside Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, where he plays a robot named Claptrap. He jokingly says Blanchett is jealous of his role, saying: “He’s the R2-D2, but he speaks English. He’s an AI robot and a fun character to do. Blanchett was so pissed at me. She was like, ‘What the fuck? I want to be the robot!’”

America Ferrera photographed at the PMC Studio in Los Angeles in December, 2023
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Also on this episode, Emmy winner America Ferrera discusses her blockbuster year, including two outstanding performances in “Barbie” and “Dumb Money.” She discusses her journey through Hollywood following “Ugly Betty” and what to expect from her upcoming directorial feature debut. And the Roundtable discusses the awards season kick-off with the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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