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Cannes report, Day 1: Jack Black knows how to 'Panda' to the crowd

Jackblack_l

Jackblack_lWhen you’ve seen Jack Black doing a roundhouse kick on a beach pier surrounded by 40 people in panda suits, it can only mean one thing: The Cannes film festival has begun!

As the one Cannes rookie on our three-person EW team, I was very excited to experience my first day on the Croisette, and it didn’t disappoint. For starters, my red eye flight over here was filled with power players: I sat next to Sony Pictures Classics copresident Michael Barker, Miramax president Daniel Battsek, and ThinkFilm head Mark Urman, while Julianne Moore slept soundly a few rows ahead of us. (Thanks for the upgrade, Delta!) While we were still on the ground at JFK, I greeted Moore for a quick hello and ended up scaring the bejesus out of her (sorry, Julie!). I’ll be sure to apologize in person when I interview her tomorrow. (Tonight I’m off to the opening-night gala of her new drama, Blindness.)

Anyway, after the half-hour car ride to Cannes, I headed straight to the beach, where DreamWorks and Paramount had arranged for their Kung Fu Panda lead, Jack Black, to appear with all those pandas, and Black was a great sport, mugging and posing for all the screaming photographers under the intense Cote d’Azur sun. After the photo op, Black came inside for a quick chat.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How was this idea first floated to you?
Jack Black:I knew there was going to be a stunt. I’ve done DreamWorks animationbefore and [Jeffrey] Katzenberg has a flair for the circus aspect ofpromotion. Four years ago for A Shark Tale, I literally jumpedoff of a shark in the ocean. So this time I was prepared for something.I thought maybe I was going to fight against Jackie Chan somewhere, butthat was not to be.

Was there any talk of you wearing a panda suit, à la Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie stunt here last year?
There was never talk of me in a panda suit because it would look weirdif I was wearing a panda suit without the panda head. That would lookodd. There was talk of me wearing a kung fu gi, but then we just optedfor casual. I picked out my favorite Kung Fu Panda t-shirt, and my special white jeans are in honor of Cannes. I don’t know, they seemed very Cannes. It felt like the ending of Star Wars I — or was that Empire Strikes Back? — wherethey all come down and get their medals and awards. I was on PlanetPanda and I was coming down to receive my panda award.

It looked like you were quite hot out there.
The heatwouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t do a bunch of high-flying kicks. I justgot carried away. My adrenaline started pumping. Once the cameras startflashing and people start yelling “Jack! Jack!” I feel compelled to dokung fu. And then I started sweating. Kung fu masters sweat, okay? So that’s legit.

I just shudder to think how many times you’ve heard the word “panda-monium” today.
Oh, man. So far, only about 17 times.

Originally posted May 14 2008 — 4:41 PM EDT

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