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‘She Was Much Smarter Than Me’: Jack Black Details His Mom’s Personal Connection to ‘Apollo 10 1/2’

"There's a sense of pride and connection to telling this story, 'cause I know my mom was in there working on it too," Black said.

In this Jan. 23, 2015 file photo, Jack Black poses for a portrait to promote his film, "The D Train", at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File)

Jack Black

Victoria Will/Invision/AP

This week marked the release of “Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood,” Richard Linklater’s new film about growing up in Houston in the shadow of the Apollo Space Program in the late 1960s. While the movie was inspired by Linklater’s own childhood, he is not the only member of the film’s team to have a personal connection to the material.

Jack Black, who narrates the film as the grown-up version of the main character, is the son of two aerospace engineers. His mother, Judith Love Cohen, famously worked on projects like the Hubble Space Telescope and was involved with the Apollo program. In a new interview with Entertainment Tonight to promote the film, Black opened up about his mother’s legendary career and how it inspired his performance. The actor described how he was born on Aug. 28, 1969, just one month after the Apollo 11 moon landing, and how his mother continued working while in the hospital with him.

“There is the legend of how when she went to the hospital to give birth to me, that she had some paperwork, she was still working on a problem,” Black said. “And after she delivered the baby, she called into work and they said, ‘Hey, congratulations, you just had a baby! How are you?’ And she goes, ‘Fine, fine, I’m faxing you over the papers, the mathematical equations.'”

While the actor joked that he did not inherit his mother’s brains, he is proud to be a part of continuing her legacy with the film. “She was much smarter than me, I did not inherit those mathematic genes,” Black said. “But there’s a sense of pride and connection to telling this story, ’cause I know my mom was in there working on it too.”

“Apollo 10 1/2” marks Jack Black’s second film with Richard Linklater, but the animated coming-of-age period piece is very different from their first collaboration, 2003’s “School of Rock.” Still, Black sees plenty of similarities between the films because they both contain Linklater’s distinct creative voice.

“I thought a lot about ‘School of Rock’ while we were making this movie, because that’s a Richard Linklater joint as well, and that’s when we first met,” Black said. “He brought that same kind of realism and humor and genius to both projects. Even though they’re very different movies, there’s that Richard Linklater DNA.”

“Apollo 10 1/2” is now available to stream on Netflix.

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