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July 27, 2022 2:47 pm

Jack Black Says Passion for Acting Was Born at Passover Seder Hosted by Holocaust Survivor

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Jack Black. Photo: Eva Rinaldi via Wikimedia Commons.

Actor Jack Black said in a recent podcast interview that his interest in acting was piqued after attending a Passover seder as an eight-year-old.

“We went over to a friend’s house, a family friend, and she was a Holocaust survivor and a really cool lady. Mama of the house. And we had our Passover seder, good Jewish din-din, religious, kind of,” Black recalled on the Smartless podcast, hosted by fellow actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Shawn Hayes.

The “Kung Fu Panda” star then remembered that after the seder concluded, the host invited her guests to migrate into the living room to play “the freeze game,” an improv theater exercise. The game involves two people acting out a scene until an audience member tells them to freeze, tapping in to replace one player and evolving the scene.

“I played that and I caught the fever so hard, because my eight-year-old performance instincts kicked in,” Black said. By then, Black added, he was “already a ham [and] class clown,” and would do anything to elicit laughter from people.

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Black also attributed his acting success to the support of his stepfather, David Katz, who was married to Black’s mother, aerospace engineer Judith Love Cohen, for 35 years until her death in 2016. Katz told Black’s mother that her son should be an actor, drove the “School of Rock” star to auditions for almost a year, and helped him secure an agent.

Black said that until today, Katz remains “very proud” of his acting career. He said his stepfather has “definitely has been a great touchstone and person to talk to all throughout my career, just to share with him — ‘this is happening.’ ‘I got an audition for this.’ I ask for his advice and he gets a kick out of it.” Black also noted that he has recently been trying to encourage Katz’s writing career because “I feel like he got me going, [so] I’ve gotta get him going.”

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