“School of Rock” was the brainchild of director Richard Linklater and screenwriter Mike White, but it turns out the movie’s development owes a lot to cast member Kevin Clark. The young performer starred in the comedy as drummer Freddy “Spazzy McGee” Jones. “School of Rock” star Rivkah Reyes revealed this week (via NME) that Clark came up with the movie’s ending on set when the film’s creative team realized what they were planning just wasn’t working. Reyes starred in the film as bassist Katie.
“The ending wasn’t landing,” Reyes said. “We tried one version of it where we win [the Battle of the Bands competition]. We tried another version of it where we lose and that’s it. It just wasn’t hitting. The team was just like, ‘What do we do about this ending?’ And Kevin is just like, ‘It’d be cool if like, we lost and then the audience started cheering, ‘School of Rock! School of Rock!’ and then they bring us out for an encore.'”
Reyes added: “So this guy, at 13 years old, wrote the ending of ‘School of Rock.'”
Clark’s ending became one of the film’s most defining moments. School of Rock loses the Battle of the Bands tournament but the crowd demands an encore performance. The band, led by Jack Black’s Dewey Finn, take the stage again to perform AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” Linklater fades out of the performance and into the movie’s end credits sequence, as the band continues to play the AC/DC song in the newly-created School of Rock music school. In typical Linklater fashion, much of the performance is captured in long takes.
Clark passed away in late May after a driver struck him while he was riding his bike in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. According to NME: “Following his appearance in “School of Rock,” Clark never acted in a major film again but continued working as musician. He played in a number of Chicago bands over the years, including his most recent project, Jess Bess and the Intentions.”
Black honored his late co-star with a post on social media that read: “Devastating news. Kevin is gone. Way too soon. Beautiful soul. So many great memories. Heartbroken. Sending love to his family and the whole School of Rock community.”
IndieWire ranks “School of Rock” as one of the 45 best comedy films of the 21st century, writing: “No one has been able to harness Jack Black’s manic energy quite like Richard Linklater, whose first collaboration with the musically inclined actor resulted in this definitive performance. Sweet, funny and catchy as hell, this earworm of a movie has inspired actual schools of rock to open up across the country and teach impressionable children the power of the riff. That’s good news, as some of the most important lessons — like remembering to get the led out — aren’t found on normal curricula.”