US actor Jack Black stars in new TV series The Brink, a satirical take on world affairs
Jack Black wants you to know that his new TV series The Brink is not like The Interview.
"Oh, no, we don't do anything that's going to get you killed and I don't think we do anything that would make people want to kill us," the 45-year-old US actor said.
He was referencing the controversial 2014 comedy flick starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists plotting to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The movie made international headlines and was branded as "an act of war" by a North Korean official, whose government threatened merciless action against the US if the film's distributor went ahead with the release.
According to Black, The Brink is more like his favourite movie Dr. Strangelove.
We were at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills and Black could not say enough about how much he loves the 1964 Stanley Kubrick classic and how its poster is the only one in his house.
So when The Brink's script landed on his desk and he saw the similarities, it was reason enough to take the job.
"I loved it right away. It had those same kind of insane elements and a comment on world politics where their political leaders are insane. Our political leaders are insane. It had a 'we're all in the same boat' kind of humanity message that I responded to," Black told M.
A satirical take on world politics, the show - which premieres over HBO (StarHub Ch 601) on June 22 at 10.30pm - deals with a crazy military general who seizes Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and precipitates a global crisis.
The unlikely heroes who will save the world are a womanising, alcoholic US Secretary of State (Tim Robbins), a navy fighter pilot who has a lucrative side business dealing in drugs (Pablo Schreiber) and Black, playing a slacker CIA reject-turned-embassy worker drone.
Here is how he describes his character Alex Talbot: "He's a party animal... but he's also very ambitious. He would like to be a CIA spy. He thinks that would be the sexiest of all occupations and would help him get laid more often.
"I don't think he has that much sex, but he's constantly thinking about it and trying to have it but he's a bit of a w****r but he's also a patriot, so he's a complicated character. He's fun to play."
Even when his character gets waterboarded, he assures.
Black finds working in television no different from the movies.
He said: "The main difference is the speed. We get so much more done in a shorter amount of time. In a way, it's kind of like an independent film. Every day, you have to shoot a lot more content so there's not a lot of time in the trailer staring at your navel or looking for the latest apps. You're always working. Yeah, I prefer it."
As co-stars and co-producers of The Brink, Robbins and Black go back decades and the latter attributes his career to the veteran 56-year-old US actor. Robbins directed Black in his first play in Hollywood when, as a 13-year old, Black hung around The Actors' Gang, the theatre group Robbins created. He has also been in all the three movies Robbins directed (Bob Roberts in 1992, Dead Man Walking in 1995 and Cradle Will Rock in 1999).
Robbins remembers those days fondly, telling M in a separate interview: "There were times that we had to send him home because we wanted to do things that adults do, didn't want to get in trouble having the minor hanging around.
"I have always just loved collaborating with him. Aside from him being really funny, he's a great dramatic actor too. And he's also an amazing singer as well. And so I'm really happy for him and his success and the journey that he has taken. He is a good dad too and he's got great kids and a great wife."
Black, who has two sons aged nine and seven with cellist wife Tanya Haden, also spends much of his time as one half of comedy rock duo Tenacious D. But movie fans know of his vocal chops mostly from the hit 2003 comedy School Of Rock, where he played a failed musician who poses as his roommate to take a substitute teaching job.
He mock-rants about the new versions that are proceeding without his participation.
"There's a School Of Rock television show. I have nothing to do with it. A School Of Rock Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that I have nothing to do with. So I hope that they make millions of dollars. You're welcome, I say to them."