'Gulliver's Travels' And Jack Black's Christmas Envy

Jack Black stars in Gulliver's Travels. i i

Jack Black eyes his tiny hosts in Gulliver's Travels. hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Jack Black stars in Gulliver's Travels.

Jack Black eyes his tiny hosts in Gulliver's Travels.

hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

In the new film Gullivers Travels, Jack Black plays the big man in town — which proved to be quite a challenge with so many tiny actors on the set.

"There were a lot of safety issues, obviously," he tells Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "Whenever I moved my feet, there had to be a warning bell that would go off."

He admits to crushing a few extras. "My condolences to all the families that were affected by my girth."

The comedy is a retelling of Jonathan Swift's classic novel, Gulliver's Travels. Black plays Lemuel Gulliver, who works in the mailroom of a big New York City newspaper but dreams of being a travel writer.

No tiny actors were harmed in the making of the movie, of course. Black says the special effects were a chance to use his imagination — to come up with the entire world of the film. Flailing around in front of a blue screen is "one of those times when you look at yourself and you go, 'I have a very strange job.' "

Gulliver, trapped by Lilliputians i i

Gulliver, trapped by Lilliputians hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Gulliver, trapped by Lilliputians

Gulliver, trapped by Lilliputians

hy*drau"lx/Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Shy Giant

In keeping with Swift's classic novel, Gulliver finds himself in a land of tiny people, the Lilliputians. It's there he finally becomes the big man — literally — he's always dreamed of.

It wasn't hard to get into the mindset of a character who's too timid to ask for a promotion, Black says. "All I had to do was think back to when before I had a bustling music and acting career," he says. "I was not in a mailroom, but I definitely shared the insecurities that go with being an anonymous face in the crowd. One of the little peeps. One of the small potatoes in a big man's world."

Black's own insecurities helped him relate to Gulliver. Like a lot of clowns, Black says he's often shy in real life. One painful memory is meeting Thom Yorke, the lead singer of the band Radiohead. "Every sentence, it sounded like I was speaking through a bottle of molasses," he says. "It was a soul crusher."

Peace On Earth And Magical Red Fat Men

Gulliver's Travels opens on Christmas Day. Though Jewish, Black celebrates Christmas enthusiastically. "A lot of us have Christmas envy." Young Jews, especially, he jokes.

"They look at all the bells and whistles across the street, at the Christmas house with all their lights and the magical red fat man and the magic horses that fly with red noses — these are things we just have to look at and envy."

He and Gulliver's costar Jason Segel have even put out a Christmas single. It's a rock version of the classic "Little Drummer Boy." Specifically, it's a reworking of David Bowie and Bing Crosby's version, titled "Peace on Earth."

Black says there are other ways of incorporating Christmas magic into being Jewish, too. Like a Hanukkah bush. With blue tinsel, of course, and a Star of David on top. "But we don't have a Hanukkah Santa," he says. "That would be taking it too far."

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