Jack Black is exploring the darker elements of children’s cinema in his new film, The House With A Clock In Its Walls.

The actor plays warlock Jonathan Barnavelt, best friend to witch Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), in a story about a young orphan called Lewis who helps Jonathan find a clock which holds the power to bring about the end of the world.

Helmed by Hostel filmmaker Eli Roth, Jack acknowledged that the 46-year-old is an interesting choice of director.

“It is, but if he was going to do it (a children’s film), it would be something like this. Lean towards the scary side of kids’ cinema,” he explained in an interview with Britain’s Total Film magazine, listing the reasons he was keen to be involved in the project.

“Obviously Cate Blanchett was a huge thing for me. I just think she’s one of the greatest actors of all time. Eli Roth – master of horror. I thought it would be fun to work with him. And the script. The script was great.”

The Tenacious D frontman is prepared for inevitable comparisons to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise due to the film’s notes of “wizardry and witchcraft”. The House with a Clock in Its Walls is also based on a book of the same name, the first in an 11-part series, however, Jack admitted he was unfamiliar with the 1973 novel by John Bellairs until he won the role.

“I didn’t know the books. But I quickly read this book when I got the part,” he shared. “I was a big fan of (the book’s illustrator) Edward Gorey’s, so it was cool to see a collaboration between him and another writer. And yeah, I really dug it. And I really dug what the screenwriter did in the adaptation (sic).”