Actor took on role after unusual meeting with filmmaker Gondry

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Jack Black, left, Melonie Diaz and Danny Glover star in Be Kind Rewind.

Hollywood producers take note: All it takes to lure Jack Black into working on a film is a pack of crayons and a few doodles.

Not to mention the creative mind of Academy Award-winning writer-director Michel Gondry, whose artistic powers of persuasion lured Black to his latest project Be Kind Rewind with a simple meeting and no script.

“I had taken a meeting or two with Michel before we talked about Be Kind Rewind just to talk about what a big fan I was of his and how I wanted to work with him on something, then he called me and said, ‘I have this idea for this movie,’” Black recalls during a recent interview in Los Angeles.

“Then I went to his hotel and he had made this comic book with crayon drawings of the characters and the junk yard and the video store (that would later be in the film). He wrote just a few lines of dialogue and a basic story and it looked really fun. I didn’t have a script, but I said yes to his comic book. I said ‘yeah, let’s make that into a movie’ because no one had ever presented a movie to me like that before.”

As the star explains in terms only he could make endearing, if Gondry had presented him a “turd on a stick,” he would have agreed to make it into a movie.

Be Kind Rewind is the fourth strange and remarkably imaginative work from the mind of the 44-year-old Gondry, whose music video direction for the likes of The White Stripes, Bjork and Radiohead originally propelled him into the art scene stratosphere.

Now it’s largely film work — including his Oscar win for best original screenplay for 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — which lures the likes of Black and his Be Kind Rewind co-star Mos Def to Gondry’s door to share creative ideas.

The filmmaker’s concept for this project was simple: Take two lovable losers named Jerry (Black) and Mike (Mos Def) whose lives are going nowhere in a New Jersey town, and centre their existence around a local video store where the latter works.

Add a large number of bizarre circumstances in the middle, a phenomenon called “Sweding” — re-creating major films on a shoestring budget — and an underlying message about the gentrification of grittier urban neighbourhoods, and you have Be Kind Rewind.

  • Be Kind Rewind opens in theatres today.

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