In an interview by The Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman — which took place before Jonah Hill lost his temper and used a homophobic slur against a paparazzo but was published after — asked the question: Is Jonah Hill as big a douche in person as his reputation suggested.
That reputation, actually, was news to me, although I suppose it’s not entirely surprising given the kind of characters he often plays. Still, the first I’d ever really heard about it was in this paragraph preceding Freeman’s interview:
But then I started to research him and instead of looking forward to meeting him, began to dread it. “He does this weird psycho staring thing at you,” warned a colleague who had interviewed Hill a few years ago. An infamously bad-tempered interview he gave to Rolling Stone last year, in which he came across as obnoxious and, most damningly of all, a fan of the word “prideful”, compounded this image of Hill as a pain. Even his friends seemed a bit unsure of him. Apatow once described him as “an angry nerd”. When one journalist asked Rogen for tips on how to interview Hill, Rogen replied: “He is serious, he is, which I’m not … I don’t know [how to approach him]. It’s a good question.” Was Hill actually kind of a douche?
So, I checked on that Rolling Stone article, and holy shit: He IS a douche. The interview, during the press tour with This is the End, clearly just wanted to have a good time with him, as they had with Seth Rogen and James Franco, who have a sense of humor. Jonah Hill clearly does not.
Just to break the ice, we ask about his day, what he did this morning, what a typical Jonah Hill morning would be. He says one thing he does is ride the elliptical. We wonder how long he rides it for. He says he doesn’t know, maybe about 30 minutes. We ask if he does pushups and stuff like that or what?
He stiffens and says, “My workout routine is of little relevance.”
Blithely, we continue. Does he have any survival skills that he’d bring to a crisis?
“I care a lot about people, especially the people I value in my life, so I’d be thoughtful and not just look out for myself.”
This is nice, but it isn’t exactly the kind of answer we’re looking for. Has he ever done anything that might be called heroic?
“I’ve definitely tried to make people’s lives better when they’re going through really hard times, and I think that’s the most accessible form of heroic behavior.”
This is not going to be easy. But, OK. Has he ever been in a fistfight?
“I fought a lot when I was younger. Some were good, some were bad. I don’t fight anymore, though. I’m an adult man,” he says, kind of laughing and sneering at the same time. “I use my words.”
In that same interview, they ask him about a joke that was in This is the End that he reportedly didn’t want to repeat twice in the film (‘God, I will suck your dick if you kill Jay.’) They ask Hill about it and he says, “I’m a religious guy, I do believe in God and I’m Jewish, and I just couldn’t imagine being happy with that later in life. I just didn’t want to say it.”
I bring this up because in The Guardian interview, Hill completely contradicts his own statement in RS, saying that he didn’t want to do the joke not because of religious reasons but because, “I just didn’t think it was funny!”
More from the RS interview, after he was asked what kind of “farter” he was:
“I’m not answering that dumb question! I’m not that kind of person! Being in a funny movie doesn’t make me have to answer dumb questions. It has nothing to do with who I am.”
That’s a strange, humorless answer for a guy who gets anally raped by Satan in an apocalyptic comedy, but whatever. When asked about his masturbation habits, a topic that Seth Rogen speaks about freely, Hill shut that down, too.
“No! We’re completely different people. You know that, right? It seems to be a big part of Seth’s life. I imagine maybe it’s because he’s married.”
As for the Guardian interview, and how it went? Hill was mostly sweet in the way that I often personally think is fake sweetness (i.e., his apology tour this week). The interview was mostly humorless and not particularly interesting, except for the one moment in which he bristled:
I’d noticed on Hill’s imdb.com page that he was born Jonah Hill Feldstein, and his parents and brother still go by the family name. So I ask why and when he dropped his original surname. This is when everything goes weird and his palpable self-control breaks down. For a full 15 seconds Hill is silent aside from his breathing: it’s so heavy, I think at first he’s having an asthma attack. Eventually, he laughs ruefully to himself.
Is this a difficult question?
“Can we just not?” he whispers.
I didn’t realise this would be awkward.
“Just … don’t,” he hisses.
I don’t know if Jonah Hill is a douche, but he’s clearly not as fun and easy-going as most of the comedy actors he works with. He clearly takes himself very seriously. He seems intense, and maybe not the best guy in the world to interview. It also puts his homophobic slur in a weirdly different context.
Source: The Guardian