Jack Black stayed in character at Sunday afternoon’s spooktacular premiere of “Goosebumps,” director Rob Letterman’s big screen adaptation of the best-selling — and heavily monster-populated — R.L Stine children’s books made popular during the 1990s.
“I wrote the books, I’m R.L Stine,” Black told reporters, affecting a devilish glint in his eye as he made his way down the press line outside LA’s Regency Village Theater. “I think you have me confused with the actual Jack Black. Twenty-five years ago when I wrote these books I had no idea they would become the worldwide phenomenon that they have. I’m so thrilled beyond measure to be in a Neal Moritz production of a Rob Letterman film with Jack Black at the helm.”
Also present at the premiere were “Goosebumps” stars Dylan Minnette, who plays the new kid in town; Odeya Rush, who plays Stine’s teenage daughter — “Jack (Black) is always so sweet, always so nice, always telling us a joke or singing us a song,” she said — and writing team Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, “who came up with the idea of making R.L. Stine a character” in the horror-light film, penned by screenwriter Darren Lemke.
“There’s a great balance between being really scary and really funny at the same time,” said Alexander. “ ‘Goosebumps’ is interesting as a franchise in that it’s really entry-level horror for kids who want to be scared but don’t want them to be scared too much.”
“We call them safe scares—things that could never happen in real life but in movies they’re scary and fun,” said producer Deborah Forte, who’s been involved with the project since its original conception in 1993. “This is a very proud moment for ‘Goosebumps’ and for me and for R.L. Stine. He’s very happy with the movie. He’s very excited and the fans are very excited.”
When Letterman was pitching to direct the film, he was very much inspired by such innocuously scary classics as “The Goonies” and “Gremlins.”
“When Neal (Moritz) gave me the big concept of R.L Stine being part of the movie I was really thinking hard about some old Amblin movies and how much I loved (them),” said Letterman. “I loved how they weren’t family movies — they were general audiences movies—and I hadn’t seen something like that in a long time and when Neal pitched to me the idea I thought what a perfect excuse to do that kind of movie. Every little aspect of the film embraces the spirit of this.”
The spirit of “Goosebumps” definitely carried over from screen to street at the film’s haunted house-themed after-party. Zombies, ghouls and gnomes lumbered around the outdoor Westwood fete while pumpkin-headed scarecrows towered high above the crowd. Guests were treated to treats like cheese pizza and hotdogs on a stick and decorated Sprinkles cupcakes with Halloween toppings in the way of sugary bats and eyeballs. A small haunted house, DJ-spun tunes and an Oculus Rift virtual reality “Goosebumps” experience kept guests both young and old entertained.
But nothing was more amusing than Black, determinedly, and quite admirably, committed to his role as the famous Scholastic book author.
“My first choice (to play me) was Morgan Freeman and when they told me Jack Black I thought, ‘Is he really the right choice?’ I tell you I’ve seen the film five times and I’m just mesmerized by his performance. He’s such a brilliant actor. My God, Matt Damon, eat your heart out. Daniel Day-Lewis. Sorry, Charlie. Not this year. Mark my words: Jack Black will walk away with the (Oscar) statuette. Otherwise it’s just a crime.”
(Pictured: Jack Black and son Thomas Black with “Goosebumps” villain Slappy the Dummy at the premiere)