This article is from Issue 54: Nov/Dec 2011

The Evolution of Jonah Hill

The breakout actor on his movie Moneyball—and his camaraderie with Brad Pitt.

Jonah Hill has long been a staple in popular comedies. From Superbad and Knocked Up to Funny People, Hill has gained acclaim in these funny-yet-raunchy films. But recently, he’s expanded his repertoire to include dramatic roles in Cyrus and Moneyball, the latter of which is garnering him award buzz for the first time in his career. We sat down with Hill to discuss Moneyball, why he’s choosing more grown-up roles and how he avoids becoming cynical.

You’ve done two dramatic roles in the last year. Is there more intentionality to how you’re shaping your career now?

Yeah, I’m intentionally doing movies that are diversifying who I am. I think it’s easy to put someone in a box. My first big intro into the world was Superbad, and it really made a big splash when it came out. From then on, I’ve been regarded as that character, and that’s who I am [to people]. That’s not who I am. It wasn’t even who I was when I made that movie. It was more ripping on people I knew when I was 16 or 17 years old.

But I’ve grown up in front of everybody, and I’m just hoping people are going to allow me to. I have matured, and I want to make dramas and comedies. So yeah, I’m making an intentional effort to do both.

Do you have any specific film goals or directors you’d like to work with in the future?

It’s the usual suspects—the ones you would obviously pick: Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino. Their films are just original. When I got involved with Judd Apatow and all those guys, I was really young and lucky. But I felt like what we did with those movies was really punk-rock and different. Comedies weren’t like the ones we were making. [Ours] were more emotional and grounded in humanity. I felt at that time what we were doing was really different and interesting. But now that we’ve made a lot of them and everyone’s copied them so much, they’re no longer different. It’s now become like the norm. So for me, it’s like: “Alright, done that. Cool.” I’ve always loved comedy and still want to make comedies, but I’m just trying to do something different.