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Interview: Jonah Hill

14th May 2012

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He’s best known for roles in Superbad, Moneyball and Get Him To The Greek, and new release The Sitter sees him taking an overnight adventure through the streets of New York with three unruly children in tow. On the day of its DVD release Jonah Hill talks comedy, creativity and why he thinks Borat is the funniest film of the 20th Century.

Is it more difficult to be a bad son like in Cyrus or to be a babysitter?

Cyrus was a more difficult role to play for sure. It is such a different tone of movie. What I value about my career and I feel really lucky, is that I can have a movie like Moneyball come out and then a month later have a movie like The Sitter come out. I don’t know many actors who have that kind of diversity on their careers like in two months have two movies that are unrecognizable from each other. Doing a movie like Cyrus and then having Get Him To The Greek come out and then doing Moneyball and having The Sitter come out kind of displays what I am trying to do with my career in a nice way.

In the beginning, you wanted to be a dramatic actor?

Both. I love comedy. I love all kinds of film. I love drama. I love it all. For me, the movies I made, what I became known for, the movies like Superbad… I think Judd, myself, and Seth Rogen, and those guys and Paul Rudd… what we were all doing were the coolest movies being made. They were the most counter-culture against the mainstream that became mainstream. For me it wasn’t, “I want to be this or that” it was “What’s the coolest movie being made right now?" And I thought with Judd we were accomplishing something really cool. Now that’s been copied a million times and now what’s new? What’s cool? How can that evolve? For me, it included doing things like Moneyball and Cyrus and also, I was a kid. I was 21, 22, when Superbad came out. Not that I am some old man but I am maturing and evolving as an actor.

Seth Rogen said that he smokes weed to get his creative juices flowing. What do you do to get creative?

Honestly, now that I have been healthier, exercise has been helping me get creative. It clears my head. If I run or something or just workout I get a clarity. I get a lot of energy. You know when you work out you think, yeah I feel really good I feel inspired. Interesting thoughts coming. It wipes clean all the words of the day and I have a blank canvas.

Is it possible it might help you land more serious roles because the chubby guy is the funny guy?

I think there are a lot of talented dramatic actors who are all different shapes and sizes. I think as I mature in many different ways – physically, emotionally, literally grow older – I think different roles are afforded to me and I think as my resume matures. I was big in Moneyball and that’s the most praise I got for a performance. I don’t think like that. I think it is about the work you are doing. Getting in better shape is a sign of maturity. I think you are taken seriously.

Which one gets more lady attention? Women always say they want a guy with a sense of humor. Do they really mean they want a funny guy?

I don’t know. You’d have to tell me. I’m not a woman.

Your movies aren’t really for kids but have you ever had a kid recognize you and say something funny?

I did How To Train Your Dragon and Megamind which are Dreamworks animated movies and I did Night At The Museum II. Kids recognize me from Night At The Museum. My character’s name was Brundon and I did a scene with Ben Stiller and the kids like that. They love Megamind and How To Train Your Dragon. When parents tell them that I am the voice of the characters Snotlout and Titan, they love that stuff. They go nuts. My nephews love it.

Can you tell us why you first got into the creative arts? How you made your way?

I guess it was just what I was good at – entertaining, writing, being funny.

Who makes you laugh?

Sacha Baron Cohen makes me laugh a lot. I was one of the writer-producers for Bruno. I worked for Sacha for six months. Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan make me laugh. I’m working with them right now. Seth Rogen, Michael Cera. Larry David.

Can you pinpoint what you find funny?

Will Ferrell really makes me laugh, and John C. Reilly. I thought Stepbrothers was, like, a masterpiece. It is so insane but so good. These are all different people with different styles of humour but the things that really kill me, that make me die, like Borat is probably the funniest thing of the 20th century.

What makes you cry?

What I was going to say about Borat; that was so real. That was real life. He was dealing with real people. It was about connection and he was trying to connect with people but they just couldn’t get on the same wavelength. It was heartbreaking and so funny. He just wanted to understand them and be understood and he just couldn’t figure it out. It was so sad and funny.

Is there an actor or actress that you always go to see?

I think Kristen Wiig is one of the funniest people. I have been a big fan of her for years.

Is there one comic actor you prefer against all the others?

Bill Murray and Dustin Hoffman are my two favourite actors because they can do both comedy and drama seamlessly. And that’s what I want from my career.

The Sitter: Totally Irresponsible Edition is out on DVD and Blu-ray now, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Order your copy here.

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