Goosebumps star Jack Black says he would save himself first in an emergency

Funnyman Jack Black is all laughs even as he promotes his new horror movie, Goosebumps

Interviewing Jack Black is like trying to get a sweet but hyperactive child to settle down and be serious: next to impossible, but rather enjoyable once you give in to the chaos.

The actor has spent most of his career as a funnyman, with comedies such as School Of Rock (2003) and the animated Kung Fu Panda franchise (2008-2011) among his biggest hits.

He gets a rare opportunity to explore his dark side with the new horror movie Goosebumps, in which he plays a children's author tormented by the supernatural characters in his books.

If a hurricane really started to happen right now... I would probably run out of here and save myself before I saved you. Which really sucks.

ACTOR JACK BLACK who says he can be a coward

The film opens in Singapore tomorrow.

Black does not often stray from his bread and butter, however, and it is easy to see why as the 46- year-old promotes his new movie at a press event in Cancun, Mexico, where his silly jokes manage to both charm and frustrate every journalist he speaks to.

But the star says he has dark moments like everyone else and tells Life he is not above experiencing the occasional bout of professional jealousy either.

Still, getting him to answer any question is proving especially difficult today because of the monster storm brewing outside.

"I hope they don't cancel the party," he says, ignoring the first question. "You going? Yeah, let's party - tequila!"

When his attention finally returns to the interview, he says he fully embraced the dark comedy of Goosebumps, in which the creatures from the stories of

R.L. Stine come to life and terrorise him.

"This felt very natural to me. Maybe it's because I've entered a dark period of my life," he says.

"I'm able to play characters with a little more depth, a little more darkness."

The movie cheekily implies that there is a feud between Stine, who has been dubbed "the Stephen King of children's literature", and King himself.

Asked if he too has a mortal enemy, Black feigns outrage.

"I will never tell you my professional nemesis! If I told you, then they would win. They'd go, 'Ah, see, he says I'm better than him, basically.'"

But, yes, he concedes that "of course there's someone - there's always someone".

Black also admits that he can be a coward when it comes to not just about movie scares, but also real ones. "I do get scared easily, unfortunately, of anything where there's danger.

"Like if a hurricane really started to happen right now, I would be the first one out of this room. My adrenaline kicks in and it doesn't, unfortunately, translate into heroic behaviour.

"I would probably run out of here and save myself before I saved you. Which really sucks. But I know myself. I wish I could say it would be different."

He is less lily-livered now that he is a father though.

"Yes, I'd definitely take a bullet for my boys," he says of Sammy, nine, and Tom, seven, his children with cellist and singer Tanya Haden, 44. "I'd like to think maybe I've grown up a bit and now I can be a hero."

Having children has shaped his career choices - witness the growing list of family-friendly films Black has done, which includes School Of Rock and animated hits such as Ice Age (2002).

"I watch them, I see what they're interested in, what movies they like and what video games, books, stories and TV shows, and it influences me. It keeps me in touch with the kids today, so it's helpful."

Comedies and kiddy films aside, the actor would jump at the chance to explore other genres - which he has done with movies such as King Kong (2005) and The Brink, a political satire that debuted on television this year.

His lead role as an assistant funeral director charged with murder in director Richard Linklater's indie black comedy Bernie (2011), which earned him high praise from critics, was one

of the most fulfilling of his career, he says, adding that he wished more parts like this would come his way.

"I had a great experience on Bernie. I love the process of doing a movie in four weeks. It's kind of great because you work your a** off.

"If Rick Linklater calls me, or if Spike Jonze or Quentin Tarantino or anyone of that calibre calls me, I'm going to do whatever they say.

"It wouldn't even really matter if it wasn't a good part. I would just jump at the chance, mainly just to watch great artists do their thing and be in proximity because you might learn something. But those are rare opportunities."

When it comes to comedy, one of Black's biggest sources of inspiration are female comics, he says.

"This is kind of a golden age of women kicking a** in comedy in general. Amy Schumer is groundbreaking - she's kind of picking up where Sarah Silverman opened the door.

"And everytime I see her doing a new thing, it's like, holy c**p, this girl is taking the world by storm," he says, stopping to praise stars such as Amy Poehler and Melissa McCarthy too.

In fact, he is scathing of the move to do an all-male Ghostbusters remake in order to rival the one out next year starring McCarthy, in which all the ghostbusters will be played by women.

"I can't believe they're going forward with the dudes' Ghostbusters," he says of the project, which has been rumoured to be considering stars such as Channing Tatum for its cast.

"Why would they do that? I'm pro the girls taking over. After the girls' Ghostbusters was announced, for the dudes to then go, 'No, no, no, it's a man's world', it's so old-fashioned and sh***y."

•Goosebumps opens in Singapore tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'Black the monster comic'. Subscribe