Jack Black Opens Up About Losing His Big Brother to AIDS, Past Drug Abuse

Jack Black Opens Up About Losing His Big Brother to AIDS
Jack Black opened up about losing his older brother Howard to AIDS in 1989: "He was only 31. So very young. We were robbed of something precious." Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

His inner demons revealed. In a new interview with Parade, Jack Black opened up about losing his big brother to AIDS back in 1989.

The Goosebumps actor, 46, who's made millions laugh with comedies like Nacho Libre and School of Rock, said his own childhood was dark and sad.

"Losing a family member is the worst thing I could imagine," Black told the mag. The star's older brother, Howard, died at age 31 from AIDS more than 25 years ago. "I have two gay siblings: my big sister, Rachel, and my big brother, Howard," Black reflected. "He was a big influence on me. He took me to my first rock concert. I was 11; he was 23. He was so vibrant, creative, amazing. He shaped my taste in music."

Black said his entire family saw his brother gradually fade. "[Death] didn’t happen quickly. We all saw the deterioration," the actor recalled. "He was only 31. So very young. We were robbed of something precious. It was devastating. It was hard for all of us, but it was hardest for my mom when we lost Howard. She’s never really recovered."

Even before Howard's death, though, things were far from ideal. Black's parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and the actor was struggling with drug abuse by age 14. "I remember just lots of turmoil from that time period,” he shared. “I was having a lot of troubles with cocaine… I was hanging out with some pretty rough characters. I was scared to go to school [because] one of them wanted to kill me. I wanted to get out of there.”

It was this upbringing that gave Black the inspiration to play a character in Goosebumps who fights actual demons. "[It] was a great adventure and a really fun role," he dished. "It’s about forgiveness and not letting your rage and thirst for revenge control you, but it’s also about how some of those darker emotions can be used to create great masterworks. I play a guy with a dark past and a brilliant mind, wrestling with his own demons, literally."

Black's own real-life struggles have made him a self-proclaimed "helicopter dad," who is beyond devoted to his wife, Tanya Haden, and their two sons, Samuel, 9, and Thomas, 7. "Sometimes I think maybe I’m a little bit of a helicopter dad hovering above my kids and making sure that they never are in harm’s way," he said, also sharing why he thinks his marriage of nine years works.

"I love her!" the star exclaimed. "I’d had decades of flings where, as soon as it was over, I was looking for the exit. I never feel that need to escape with Tanya."

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