Almost No One Wanted Richard Linklater To Direct School Of Rock

jack black in school of rock

Jack Black and Richard Linklater are both fondly remembered for the 2003 comedy School of Rock, which featured Black's character teaching music to a bunch of amusing children, but if either of them had there way, that partnership would not have happened. Recently, both Jack Black and Richard Linklater revealed they absolutely did not want Linklater on board as the director of School of Rock. Jack Black told American Masters: Richard Linklater it wasn't a really easy fit to understand, noting,

We were like, that doesn't make sense. Because this is like a feel-good hit of the summer type of thing, and we both thought of Richard Linklater as more of an art house type of guy. You think Slacker, you don't think whatever you think of when you think of big commercial comedies.

I can kind of see his point. Now, Richard Linklater is known for Boyhood and Before Sunrise and A Scanner Darkly. At the time the movie was getting made, he was the Dazed and Confused and (still) Before Sunrise and Slacker guy, as Jack Black even mentioned ahead of the upcoming PBS special. No one at the time would accuse him of working on a bunch of broad comedies. Regardless, it wasn't just Jack Black who wasn't interested in seeing the director do School of Rock. Linklater himself recalled he really wanted nothing to do with the movie. He said,

'Here's a script. Jack Black's attached. What do you think?' I'm like, 'Eh I dunno if I want to do this.' I'm like, 'Pass.'

So how the hell did Richard Linklater end up directing School of Rock and later producing the TV series based on the hit comedy? The answer is Scott Rudin. Well, it's not quite so simple. The producer apparently talked to Linklater's people and made it clear that the director was the man he saw for the job. Everyone likes to be fawned over a little bit, and sometimes it only takes one person's vision to get everyone else on board. Per Linklater,

I got a call saying, ' Well Scott Rudin, the producer, isn't accepting your pass.'... He was just sure I was the right guy to pull this off. I'm like, 'Well, that's interesting, you're not just going through the rolodex.' So it was a huge, different thing for me to come aboard; I was a color on his palate. Someone else had cast me as the right person to perhaps realize this thing that he thought had potential.

The rest is history. School of Rock went on to make more than $131 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. It's not a movie that is noted on lists of highest grossers or anything, but it was a solid win for Paramount Pictures, and it has spawned a stage adaptation and a television show around the premise. Not bad for a project that no one wanted Richard Linklater on in the first place.

To find out more about Richard Linklater, you can take a look at American Masters: Richard Linklater - Dream is Destiny when it airs on PBS on September 1 at 9 p.m. ET.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.