Jonah Hill is a serious actor. He talks like a serious actor. He is building a resume that is a template for a serious actor, including his recent dramatic stint in “Moneyball.”
But he also wants to be behind the scenes and create programming as well. Thus, his first stint as executive producer is for a new animated series that debuts after Fox’s “The Simpsons” this Sunday called “Allen Gregory.” He also voices the lead character, a coddled, home-schooled seven-year-old with pretentious tastes who is forced to go to public school and falls in love with the rather aged principal.
Hill, who is in Atlanta to shoot a comedy film with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller called “Neighborhood Watch,” screened the first episode and a trailer to his upcoming comedy “The Sitter” (which he also executive produces) before an enthusiastic crowd of Georgia Tech students earlier this month.
“When I was sitting where you’re sitting trying to figure out what to do,” he told the students, “I wanted to write for ‘The Simpsons’ since I was a little kid. Years later, to have created a show and be on a show after ‘The Simpsons’ is a crazy dream come true. It’s cool.I work hard on the show. So if you don’t like it, shut the F up!”
Yes, he was sort of joking there. But he needs viewers of this ilk to keep it going, which is why he did the screening.
The host read questions from the audience, many rather dopey. (Yes, someone actually asked him what his favorite color was. In case you’re wondering, it’s green.)
One decent question: is he going to do more serious films? “I love comedy. No way I’m bailing on being funny or doing comedy. I love it. I like doing movies like ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Sitter.’ I’d like to have a career like Bill Murray or Dustin Hoffman. They did both comedy and drama really well. For me, it’s about trying to do both.”
His favorite role to date? “Seth in ‘Superbad.’ Peter in ‘Cyrus’ is pretty interesting. Cyrus is a really f-ed up guy. Peter Brand [in 'Moneyball'] was cool. He’s the only guy who isn’t really messed up. Usually, they’re going through really weird times in their lives. Peter Brand was the first guy who had his s— together. That was interesting.”
Who does he prefer? John C. Reilly (”Cyrus”) or Russell Brand (”Get Him to the Greek”). “They’re just interesting in different ways. John C. Reilly is someone I look up to a lot because he does both comedy and drama. He was in ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Chicago’ and ‘Step Brothers.’ He has a really diverse career. Russell is also amazing, just really funny and f– bizarre and weird. John is more like an older brother type figure to me.”
A few questions were funny: “How does Brad Pitt smell?” “Fantastic,” Hill said. “Like excellence.” He turned down an offer to party at a local frat. “I will probably go home and go to sleep. I worked all day today.”
He did acknowledge he is single but didn’t give off any vibe that a Georgia Tech undergrad was in his immediate horizon.
Hill isn’t above doing goofy stunts. He released a phone number (917-409-7838) for folks to call so he could promote “The Sitter.” And yes, he said he has the phone with him and will set aside time to answer it for maybe 30 minutes a day. “I get a lot of people asking me if I’d like to get high with them,” he said. “A lot of people are caught off guard and don’t know what to say.”
We the media folks (Dave FM’s Mara Davis, Fat Kid, a guy from the Technique, me and Jenn Hobby of Q100) wanted to do one on ones with Hill afterwards but he preferred doing a ten-minute group interview. None of us were thrilled but given that we were already there, we accepted.
Here’s most of the interview with Hill, featuring the classic Fat Kid question about whether he still considers himself the “fat guy in Hollywood still” and Jonah Hill’s chilly response: “Do you have any other questions… that are smart?”
Hill has watched “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and likes Kim Zolciak. He didn’t know she was marrying Kroy Biermann, though she might be still with “Big Daddy.” (We know he meant “Big Poppa.”)
I asked him some softball question about “Moneyball” but stupidly referenced money. He proceeded to say he doesn’t pay attention to box office receipts, especially for a film like “Moneyball.” He did note that the film has helped perceive him in a different way.
Mara then asked him about “Tinyballs,” the SNL skit parodying “Moneyball” featuring his film-mate Ben Stiller. He found it funny, of course.
He was more bemused by a supposed tiff with “Glee” star Matthew Morrison. When he asked where he should hang out in Atlanta, Mara suggested Midtown, Jenn said Virginia-Highland.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk