Awkwafina Reveals She Feared Ruining Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda 4 Takes
8 mins read

Awkwafina Reveals She Feared Ruining Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda 4 Takes


  • Kung Fu Panda 4
    features Po teaming up with a new sidekick, Zhen, to stop the villainous Chameleon and protect the Staff of Wisdom.
  • Jack Black and Awkwafina’s natural chemistry shines in their roles, with both actors having worked together previously and being good friends.
  • Recording together in the studio added to the fun and authenticity of their performances, creating a unique experience for the actors and audience.

Everyone’s favorite panda is back on the big screen in Kung Fu Panda 4. While the Furious Five don’t join Po (Jack Black) for this installment, he does have a new sidekick, a fox thief named Zhen (Awkwafina). The two must stop the Chameleon (Viola Davis), whose plan is to steal the Staff of Wisdom and harness the kung fu power and skills of Po’s previous opponents.

Jack Black and Awkwafina are no strangers to each other’s comedic prowess. Not only have they previously worked together on Jumanji: The Next Level, but they are also good friends in real life. This allowed them to really lean into their Kung Fu Panda 4 characters and the easygoing chemistry that they have together ﹘ something that is apparent both on and offscreen.


Kung Fu Panda 4: Release Date, Cast, Story, Trailer & Everything We Know

Kung Fu Panda 4 is confirmed and has a March 2024 release date. Here’s all that’s known about Dreamworks’ new Kung Fu Panda movie so far.

Screen Rant interviewed Black and Awkwafina about Kung Fu Panda 4 on one of the Universal Studios Lot sound stages, which was set up to look like a scene from the film. The duo discuss being able to record together in the booth, something that is very rare in animation. Awkwafina also shares what her character Zhen, who is new to the Kung Fu Panda franchise, learns from Po. Jack Black confesses how he approaches voices that are original characters versus those that are established already, such as Bowser and Borderlands’ Claptrap, while also offering an update on Super Mario Bros. 2.

What Jack Black & Awkwafina Learned From Their Kung Fu Panda 4 Characters

Po smiling widely with his mouth hanging open as flower petals drift on the wind around him in Kung Fu Panda 4
Voice of Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda 4.

Screen Rant: Jack, you’ve voiced Po for so long. Is there anything you think you’ve learned from him over the years?

Jack Black: Always hold on to that magic of play if you can. That’s where almost all of my inspiration comes from, and all the best comedy and music comes from, like a youthful kind of place of imagination. And it starts to fade as you get older, so it’s important to try to keep in contact with that.

Awkwafina, I love the addition of Zhen. The two of you are fantastic together. Do you think she has learned anything from Po?

Awkwafina: Definitely. I think they have similar backgrounds, but opposing worldviews. Po has a lot to teach in that kind of youthful enthusiasm and positivity and the instinct to protect and trust. So, yeah, I think that she learns a lot from Po.

Kung Fu Panda 4’s Recording Booth Is Where Magic Is Made As A TeamZhen holding a light in Kung Fu Panda 4You got to record in the booth together, which is super rare. What was that like?

Awkwafina: It’s hard for me to keep a straight face. In that way, it was difficult. I feel like I ruined all of his takes, because Jack wilds out in there. You’re at a ten dude, it’s awesome.

Jack Black: We were riffing. It’s always fun to riff with Awkwafina just because she’s got a magical sense of humor. And the thing is, there are some actors who only want to have the whole cast there. I remember Dustin Hoffman on the very first one was like, “How come we’re not doing this together all the time?” I think we would if it was feasible, but the truth is, the animators and the directors need us one at a time for maximum efficiency.

Awkwafina: I wanted all six of us on one mic like the Bee Gees. I did. I think that would have been really cool. On one mic, and it’s dropped down, but we’re all huddled over with headphones.

Jack Black: That’s old school recording. Get them sweet harmonies.

Awkafina: It’s an analog sound, for sure.

How Po Differs From Jack Black’s Other Famous Voice Acting RolesJack Black as Bowser looks sad while talking to Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.Jack, you’re the original voice of Po. How does your approach differ when you do characters like Bowser and Claptrap that are already established?

Jack Black: Those are real character voices. So I have to find those voices. They’re different for me. Those are fun characters to play because they are different for me and I can kind of hide behind the characters and that frees you up in a way to do some stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. But I feel closer to Po because it really is just me. That’s of more of a personal performance.

That is really the difference, is that there’s nowhere to hide when I’m Po. It’s really just Jack. I hate to talk to about myself like that. It’s really just Jack Black. At the end of the day, the thing about Jack Black is that his essence is Po. Disgusting.

Screen Rant: I have to ask, are we going to see Bowser again? Do you know if there’s going to be a Super Mario Bros. 2?

Jack Black: I don’t know. But never say never. That was a fun one.

About Kung Fu Panda 4

After three death-defying adventures defeating world-class villains with his unmatched courage and mad martial arts skills, Po, the Dragon Warrior (Golden Globe nominee Jack Black), is called upon by destiny to… give it a rest already. More specifically, he’s tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. That poses a couple of obvious problems. First, Po knows as much about spiritual leadership as he does about the paleo diet, and second, he needs to quickly find and train a new Dragon Warrior before he can assume his new lofty position.

Even worse, there’s been a recent sighting of a wicked, powerful sorceress, Chameleon (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), a tiny lizard who can shapeshift into any creature, large or small. And Chameleon has her greedy, beady little eyes on Po’s Staff of Wisdom, which would give her the power to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm. So, Po’s going to need some help. He finds it (kinda?) in the form of crafty, quick-witted thief Zhen (Golden Globe winner Awkwafina), a corsac fox who really gets under Po’s fur but whose skills will prove invaluable.

In their quest to protect the Valley of Peace from Chameleon’s reptilian claws, this comedic odd-couple duo will have to work together. In the process, Po will discover that heroes can be found in the most unexpected places.

Kung Fu Panda 4

comes to theaters on March 8th.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

Kung Fu Panda 4 Poster Featuring Po and Supporting Characters Flying Through the Air

Kung Fu Panda 4

Kung Fu Panda 4 is the fourth film in the animated martial arts adventure franchise. The film will see Po leave his home and enter the city to search for his future Dragon Warrior replacement while dealing with a dangerous shapeshifting foe known as The Chameleon.

Mike Mitchell , Stephanie Stine

Release Date
March 8, 2024

DreamWorks Animation

Universal Pictures

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