By Thomas Chau in New York City

They’re cute, they’re funny, and they sure as hell can rock.

Enter the five main lead kids of “The School of Rock,” the Jack Black comedy opening this Friday. These kids were handselected by Director Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”) and writer Mike White (“The Good Girl”) from a nationwide talent search of kids from all over the nation.

This has to be the most fun I've ever had at a press junket. These kids are bright, hilarious, and have loads of energy. As soon as they left, the other reporters and I were talking about how much energy and star potential they had. They walked into the press room table with smiles on their faces despite having done an extensive press tour.

These kids are going places and before I begin the interview, let me introduce each one and give my impression of what I thought of each one. Here they are, presented from left to right from where I was sitting across from them.

Age: 10 / Character: Summer (the band manager)
The youngest of the group, Miranda was adorably precious. She has an incredibly cute smile and having been an actress already, was the most poised out of the group. She answered questions courteously, with a big grin, and surprsingly, in a mature fashion.
Age: 11 / Character: Katie (the bass player)
Rebecca was an extraordinary guitarist who learned the bass for the movie. She has a surprisingly sarcastic wit to her humor but was always laughing during the interview and provided hilarious responses.
Age: 14 / Character: Freddy (the drummer)
The oldest of the group, Kevin was thus the leader. He took it upon himself to speak for the group sometimes and in doing so, was quite aware of what he was talking about and wasn't shy to speak his mind.
Age: 12 / Character: Zach (the guitarist)
Much like Kevin, Joey wasn't afraid to speak his mind at all and was absolutely hysterical. An accomplished guitarist, Joey said he worships Jimmi Hendrix.
Age: 13/ Character: Lawrence (the keyboard player)
Robert was extremely polite and thus, extremely quiet. At times, I noticed he would try to say something but felt bad about trying to interrupt the other kids while they were talking. Still, though, this future grand pianist was very enthusiastic about the film and once he's heard, can be very funny.

I wish I could transcribe the entire interview for you guys but it would literally go 20 pages. When you put 5 kids, each very excited about their first movie, in a room together, they will chatter...and chatter...and chatter. In fact, there were several times when there would be several of them talking at the same time, making our heads going in different directions. I just wish I had a videotape or something of these kids cause man, they were absolutely delightful to be with.

For example, before we started answering questions, the table of about eight of us were asked to introduce ourselves. The kids, which never happens with other movie stars, took it upon themselves to get to know the journalists as well.

KEVIN: You hear everything right?

ANGEL COHN FROM TVGUIDE: No, we see everything.


JOEY: (pointing to Rona Gellar) What’s your name again?

RONA GELLAR: Rona Gellar.

JOEY: Isn’t that the chick on “Friends”

RONA GELLAR: No, it’s Monica Gellar.

REBECCA (confused): What?(Laughs)

And so, the interview begins. So instead of transcribing the entire thing, I have selected some short moments from the interviews that stood out in my mind. I've also tried describing how they said their answers as best I can. It was so much fun being there that it's hard to describe what went on in words.

When was the first time you guys played together?

KEVIN: Well the first time we played together was during auditions. We met at the first audition and they liked both me and him (referring to Joey) and they said, ‘Can you come in and record?’ And we kind of jammed together and put us on tape.

JOEY: I think we played like a Zeppelin tune…Iron Man.

So do you guys all play your own instruments?

KEVIN: Yeah. She’s the band manager though (pointing to Miranda). She’s playing the band manager really.

So you (pointing to Miranda) are the only professional actor among you guys? None of you guys have any acting experience?

REBECCA: School plays, but that doesn’t count. I played a tree!

MIRANDA: I’ve been acting since I was three. An agent walked up to me. I was actually dancing at a restaurant. Taste of LA, heard of it?

KEVIN: Wait, dancing at a restaurant? What kind of restaurant?


What was it like working with Jack Black?

JOEY: It was like a vacation…

MIRANDA: He’s so cool.

JOEY: …he’s always funny.

REBECCA: He’s like a kid.

JOEY: He’s a big 12-year-old kid actually.

REBECCA: He’s not the kind of celebrity that’s like, (in a witch-like voice) “Get these kids out of my trailer! They’re not supposed to be in here!” He’s more like (in a California surfer voice) “Sup dude?”

KEVIN: I wanted to do an interview with him for my school newspaper, and it was the last day of shooting actually. And he was sitting there playing his XBox, BMX XXX, and I did a whole interview with him which was a lot of fun, and got a lot of good answers from him.

What was the funniest thing he said or did?

KEVIN: Well there was this one time, and it was just me and Robert, and we had to wake up Jack by kicking the bed. It was like the fifth take, and I kicked the bed, and Jack just farts SO LOUD. It was like, KICK! (makes a loud farting noise) I think he was holding it in for a few takes. He was holding it for that exact moment. We tried to go along with it but once he started cracking up, everyone was.

ROBERT: He’s always very funny and laid back, but he also has a friendly side. I remember once I was sick, I was very sick. We were almost finished with a take and he said to me, “It’s good for you to come, even though you’re sick.” So he’s so nice, and so friendly. I hope you can see that on screen.

How was Richard Linklater to you guys?

JOEY: He was awesome.

MIRANDA: He was really, really nice.

KEVIN: I loved “Dazed and Confused.” That’s a really good movie.

JOEY: Quote us saying he’s a great director.

Rebecca, you play the guitar. How was getting used to the bass?

REBECCA: The bass is the same exact thing as the guitar, only with four strings and an octave lower. Exactly the same, only easier.

So are all you guys the same age?

KEVIN: No, I’m actually the oldest of the group. I’m 14.

REBECCA: (with her arm around Miranda) And she’s actually the youngest of the group.

MIRANDA: (shakes her head) Ten.

REBECCA: Eleven.

MIRANDA: I’m always being picked on. (Laughs)

So all of you guys are supposed to be in the fifth grade?

KEVIN: (rolls his eyes) I’m a freshman in high school and I play a fifth grader. (Laughs)

REBECCA: He’s just a midget.

So being that you guys want to be rock stars, what was it like being on stage for the final scene in front of that huge audience?

JOEY: It was like a dream come true! I played for like, a hundred people, two hundred people, gigs that I do. It was such a dream come true!

REBECCA: I’ve only played in talent shows and recitals and stuff like that in front of 50 people but this was just awesome to be in front of 1500 people.

ROBERT: There were some people that you couldn’t see behind the other people that you could see. So that whole theater was crowded. You could feel it coming alive, the sound of people roaring. Even though we weren’t playing!

REBECCA: (shushing) Robert!


How was working with Jim O’Rourke? Are you guys fans of Sonic Youth now?

KEVIN: Yeah, kind of…

JOEY: It’s different music.

MIRANDA: He’s really cool actually. There’s one scene in the movie where Summer (her character) is supposed to sing bad. I’m actually pretty good because I’ve been taking lessons for five years. I got to have a 45-minute lesson with him on how to sing bad.

So do your friends treat you guys differently now that you’re big movie stars?

REBECCA: Let’s put it this way: There are people in the school who are like, “Hey, what’s up? I’ve seen the trailer a million times and it’s really good. Hey, you want to go for ice cream some day?” And then there are the people who are like, (in a very funny perky voice and character) “Hey movie star! Can I have your autograph?! Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. Come on and see the movie with me! Come on! Come on! I want to be your best friend! I mean, I am your best friend, aren’t I?” And then there are the people who are like (sighing), “Oh. It had to be you. YOU?! YOU’RE THE LEAD STAR?!”

JOEY: There’s always that one weird kid who’s like, obsessed with you. (in a psycho voice) “Hey man, you want to be my friend!”

REBECCA: (laughing hysterically) BWAHH! (Imitating someone scaring someone)

Were you guys always into classical rock?

KEVIN: Me and Joey – we were always into classical rock.

JOEY: (pointing to Robert and Miranda) We kinda taught these two guys.

REBECCA: I was kind of always into the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and stuff. Before the movie, my dad bought all these CDs like Zeppelin and Hendrix and stuff.

MIRANDA: My mom was always kind of into rock. After the movie, I went home and got out all her old albums and listened to them. I really like – I can’t think of the name of it…Rolling Stones with the zipper..

JOEY: Sticky Fingers.

(Four of them begin speaking at the same time, which becomes inaudible)

ROBERT: I always liked classical music. Chopin…

KEVIN: We don’t know what he’s saying, really.

ROBERT: That’s the thing about classical music is that they are all French or German.

JOEY: There are no classical players with a last name like, Daniels or Smith.

Miranda, are you a teacher’s pet like your character in the movie?

MIRANDA: (Very sweetly laughs) No, not at all. I get pretty good grades but I’m not the bookworm type. I’m more laid back. I’ll do my homework at 10 o’clock and finish it at 1 in the morning. Once I had a teacher who really liked me but I don’t think I was the teacher’s pet. I think she just liked me.

REBECCA: I’m kind of the class clown.

MIRANDA: But you’re the one being made fun of. (Laughs)

REBECCA: We’re all the victims.

JOEY: I tend to make the people in my class laugh, but the teachers don’t laugh. (Laughter)

What kind of grades do you guys get?

JOEY: F’s. No, I’m just kidding.

REBECCA: The lowest grade I ever got was a C.

JOEY: I think I got a C in handwriting once.

KEVIN: (sarcastically) We don’t believe in grades in high school.

MIRANDA: The lowest grade I ever got was an A-.

JOEY: Oh my god, she must be stupid.

How do you guys do in music class?

REBECCA: We don’t have music class in our school. (In a valley girl tone) Rip-off!

MIRANDA: I know.

REBECCA: In my school, if you’re in band, you’re considered a geek. I don’t know why. But the band…(in a baritone voice) sucks.

When your friends ask you about the movie, what’s the most common question?

JOEY: You get the stupid questions, like, “Did you get to meet Jack Black?” No, he just kind of walked off to a corner and I didn’t talk to him at all.

REBECCA: (sarcastically) Yeah I had a scene with him and I didn’t get to talk to him.

JOEY: They digitally put me in and I never met anybody in the movie.

What kind of advice does Jack Black give you when you’re playing instruments?

JOEY: We actually taught him things…

KEVIN: We taught him a game called Sticks where you hold out your fingers…

(At this point, Miranda and Rebecca begin playing the game to themselves.)

KEVIN: We’d have Sticks tournaments and the assistant director and the director would be like, “Jack we need you over here to rehearse the next scene.” And he’d be like, “One second. I’m in the middle of a Sticks tournament.”

What advice did Linklater give to you guys?

(Miranda and Rebecca are still playing the game, not paying attention to the interviews.)

KEVIN: He was really big about us being ourselves and really wanting us to be able to play instruments. Being ourselves was our main thing.

ROBERT: We’d laugh a lot because Jack was so funny. So everytime he did something funny, sometimes we’d all laugh. The problem was sometimes, I’d be at the head of the laughter, and then all the people would laugh. So one time, Linklater said, “Let’s not try to laugh at every funny scene.”

JOEY: If you look closely, you’ll see that Robert’s kind of chuckling in every scene.

(Miranda and Rebecca finally stop.)

Did you guys get to keep the instruments?

(A big sigh comes from three of them)

REBECCA, KEVIN, JOEY: (looking sad) No.

JOEY: We all use Gibson guitars in the movie so we’re thinking sponsorship here.

(Major laughter)

JOEY: Quote that in your magazines. We want sponsorship from Gibson!


"The School of Rock" opens October 3rd.

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