Jack Black Goes Ape for 'Kong' Role

03/30/2004 AT 02:58 PM EST

Jack Black is about to go to the school of ape for director Peter Jackson.

The "School of Rock" star has been cast as Carl Denham in Jackson's upcoming remake of "King Kong," according to the Hollywood Reporter. Denham is an enterprising filmmaker determined to enhance his reputation, a part that Jackson thinks Black can take to.

"He's a smart and versatile actor blessed with an abundance of energy and charm, and I'm absolutely thrilled that he is joining us on 'Kong,'" Jackson said.

The "Lord of the Rings" director added that he had wanted to work with Black since seeing his small role opposite John Cusack in "High Fidelity."

Black, 34, received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in last year's "The School of Rock," and has also appeared in "Shallow Hal" and "Orange County." Black -- also a part-time musician in the comic-folk duo Tenacious D -- has roles in a couple other upcoming films, including "Envy" and as the voice of Lenny in the DreamWorks animated feature "Shark Tale," due out this fall.

"King Kong" will be shot in Jackson's native New Zealand, and it's expected to reach theaters in 2005. Black will be joining Naomi Watts, who has been cast as Ann Darrow, the object of Kong's affection.

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