Jonah Hill is known for playing the foul mouthed best friend in Judd Apatow comedies like Knocked Up, Funny People, and Superbad, but in this weekend’s Get Him to the Greek he’s switching it up. He’ll leave the antics to British comedian Russell Brand, who co-headlines the spin-off to the 2008 comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In the film, Hill doesn’t play a sex crazed teen or an unemployed slacker, but a fresh faced intern who’s trying to work his way up the corporate ladder at a premiere record label.
The actor recently sat down with us to discuss his transition from teen to adult roles and his highly ambitious career goals. Hill is a prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. He has his eye on the prize and it goes beyond acting. The 26 year old wants to work behind the camera as a director, writer, producer and that’s just the tip of the iceberg…
In Get Him to the Greek, Hill plays Aaron Green a young assistant working at a record label who gets the assignment of a lifetime. He has to transport his favorite musician (Aldous Snow) from London to Los Angeles in a few days so he can perform at a 10 year anniversary concert. The actor didn’t do any extensive research on A&R guys for his part, instead he depended on his family to get the inside scoop on the music biz.
I come from a music business family. My brother manages bands and my dad is an accountant for bands. I heard a lot of good stories growing up because my dad is a very sweet, straight laced business man similar to Aaron. He went on the road as the accountant for Guns n’ Roses and a lot of wild acts so he had a lot of interesting stories.
Hill took that inside information and used it to his advantage while playing the “every man” who gets to take a walk on the wild side.
This movie’s kind of the ultimate fantasy. Who hasn’t dreamt about going on the road with their favorite rock star to party for 3 days? In actuality, you kind of realize that after all the fun and debauchery and sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, that a lot of times that lifestyle can be rather empty. Without loved ones and people that you care about, who in turn care about you, life can be pretty sad. I think rock stars or people that party like rock stars probably have a higher tolerance for that sort of thing, while the average person going into that world wouldn’t be able to handle it as well.
In comparison to the other characters Hill has played in the past, Aaron seems like the most normal out of the bunch.
This is only the second movie I’ve been able to choose after Superbad. I think I could have sold out a hundred times over between now and then but I took my time and waited for the right movies like Get Him to the Greek or Cyrus and Moneyball. I think because I’ve only starred in one other movie people assume I’m like my character in Superbad who is a 17 year old, horny, obnoxious, loud mouth teenager and it was appropriate for that movie but I’m a 26 year old ambitious man. I’m not like that.
Besides Russell Brand, Hill worked with a wide array of actors in Get Him to the Greek including Elisabeth Moss who plays his girlfriend in the film.
I’m such a big “Mad Men” fan and a lot of great actresses came in to read for my girlfriend but when Elisabeth came in it was exciting. Out of all the actresses it just felt like we would actually be a couple. It seemed more natural to us than a lot of the others. She’s just super talented and I really look at her as an actress to watch out for.
As for his experience with real life music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs…
He had acquired my phone number somehow and called me and said he was a huge fan of mine. He’d heard about the role in this movie and wanted to come audition so he flew out and auditioned for Nick [Stoller] and I and he just knocked it out of the park. He was very clear that we weren’t entering his world, he was entering our world. It’s not like I was recording a rap album or something like that, he was stepping into something Nick and I were far more familiar with. He was very humble and dedicated to giving a good performance and it payed off. I think he’s shockingly hysterical in the movie.
Hill and Brand shot a lot of footage for the film and some of it ended up in montages and didn’t get to play out in full detail but the actor holds no grudges against the director for his editing choices. He knew the cuts were made with the movie’s best interest in mind and as long as it looks good he’s happy.
Not to be rude but critics will often shit on anything and it’s hard work to make a movie good. For the actor to do the right thing, for the director, the writer, the DP, all the crew, and everything to align to make a good film it’s a beautiful thing. If you’re unappreciative of that you’re a jerk. I appreciate when a movie comes together and is good. I celebrate the fact that it turned out good and I’m proud of it because I’m sure they’ll come a time when I’m sitting in front of you guys and the movie isn’t good (laughs).
Besides Greek, Hill has a lot of projects on the horizon including a big screen adaptation of 21 Jump Street. He confirmed that the film will be shot sometime early next year (January of February) and he plans on working on the script up until then. One of the original stars of the TV series from which the film is based was Johnny Depp and the actor has publicly stated that he would love to do a cameo in the movie, a statement Hill is taking very seriously.
Hell yeah, we take it seriously. It’d be great if Johnny Depp wanted to do a cameo. We wrote him a really funny one so hopefully he does it. I really liked “21 Jump Street.” The thing I connected with the most was getting to relive your high school years again shortly after. I thought that was really interesting because it’s almost like a time travel movie in a way. Getting to go back and re-experience a very important, significant time in your life. I think the fun is they sort of go back to high school and immediately revert to the way they were in high school. They lose the swagger and confidence they gained as guys in their mid-twenties.
We’ve gotten used to seeing Hill appear in comedies and just recently with Cyrus and the upcoming Moneyball he’s taken on more dramatic material. But when it gets down to it, he doesn’t love one genre more than the other.
I just love film. I just love movies. I love talking about movies. I love watching movies. I want to be a director, that’s my ultimate goal. I like writing and producing movies and honestly I just want to look back on my career and be proud of every film that I do and not worry about what genre it is or how people perceive me. That’s far less important to me than the quality of what you’re doing.
Speaking of quality films, Hill appeared in the DreamWorks animated feature How to Train Your Dragon, which turned out to be a major hit for the studio. He’s excited to reprise his supporting role in the sequel because it will be a good change of pace from his usual movies.
We’re going to make a sequel and I’m exited about that. Those movies are fun because when I have kids one day, and I have nephews now, it will be cool to show my kids a movie where I’m not shoving a balloon of heroin up my ass.
Overall, the actor’s career seems to be on the up and in up. In five short years he’s gone from a mere cameo in Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin to headlining his own film. Hill stresses that there’s no secret to his fast success. He just tries to stick to one important rule when it comes to his work…
I just honestly try and make good choices and make movies that I’d want to see.
Get Him to the Greek debuts in theaters nationwide on June 4, 2010.