The Hill

The Jonah Hill transformation story is a one-two punch. He’s broken out of comedies by nailing a good dramatic part (i.e.. baseball player analyzer Peter Brand) in a great film, Moneyball. And he’s slimmed down with a healthier diet and (presumably) a more moderate lifestyle. He’s a walking metaphor for “you can up your game and change your life.”

Jonah Hill in Toronto last September. (For some reason I forgot to take a closeup during our chat.)

Some have said that Hill’s thinner shape makes him somehow less funny. I don’t think it’s the weight. I think it’s the 1959 certified public accountant haircut that he’s been walking around with since last September. Audiences expect funny guys to look wild and rambunctious on some level, so Hill just needs to grow the hair out a bit and maybe add some whiskers. That should take care of it. You can’t look too regulated.

Last night I sat down with Hill in a room adjacent to where Moneyball was playing. We went over the usual topics and had an easy chat. The time flew. One of the things that just popped out of my mouth was a suspicion that if Stanley Kubrick had lived and was still churning out films, he’d probably want to use Hill. Kubrick liked personality guys like James Cagney, and Hill, I think, fits that mold. His energy doesn’t push through in Moneyball (it’s a very subtle performance) but it has in most of his films so far, and I think the Great Stanley K. would have seen that.

Here‘s the mp3 of our chat.

I just wrote this for the previous piece about the Pitt-Hill Moneyball q & a:

“The 28 year-old Hill slips into a new realm or membrane of some kind in Moneyball. His Peter Brand character is mostly about analytical brilliance, but he’s a guy who loves to stay out of things. His greatest comfort is blending in with the walls and the furniture. The pleasure of Hill’s performance is in the silences, the proddings, the unspoken stuff, the stillnesses, the looks of terror and trepidation.

“It’s a major growth-spurt role, and absolutely deserving of Best Supporting Actor honors, partly because Hill’s decision not to do just raunchy comedies like Get Him To The Greek and The Sitter represents the best impulse that an actor can have, which is to move up the ladder by growing his or her game.

Hill as Peter Brand in Moneyball
  • Eloi Wrath

    I’m sure we’ve discussed this on HE before, but isn’t the use of “last September” to describe two months ago a bit weird? I know it’s technically right, but shouldn’t a bit more time elapse before you describe something as “last”. If someone said it to me in conversation, I’d assume they were talking about September 2010.

  • JR


    Same thing happens with this week / next week / this Tuesday / next Wednesday – I always ask people to clarify, be more specific, confirm the date, etc., because I have been burned a time or two by people who don’t know the most basic rules.

    In Oct/Nov/Dec 2011, if I was referring to September 2011, I would just say “September” without saying “last.” If it was January to August of 2011, I would refer to the coming Sept as “this September.” “Last September” suggests to me the September in the prior calendar year, not one that has just past. Thus in January 2012, I would say “last September” referring to September 2011.

  • Snoop Marlo

    First Rogen loses weight, now Hill. Rogen = Less Funny Skinnier. What will become of Hill?

    BTW: Shouldn’t Hill be leading an intervention with Vince Vaughn?

    Too bad Oprah isn’t churning out new episodes. She can get some secrets from Hill.

  • Flash Gordon

    There’s nothing funny about a physically fit man. Nobody wants to watch Lance Armstrong do comedy.

  • DiscoNap

    The difference is Rogen isn’t lying about bariatric like a bro Star Jones.

  • LexG

    Yeah, major props on him losing the weight, but something is odd about the oft-reported figure of it being a drop of 40 POUNDS. Forty??? More like 100-plus, right?

    I mean a heavy guy loses 40 pounds, there’s usually not THAT much difference; Forty pounds is probably the different between GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI Baldwin and current 30 Rock Baldwin… Between GET SHORT Travolta and Fat Travolta… Rogen’s weight loss looked like about 40 pounds; Segel’s weight loss was like 25-30…

    Current Hill in THAT pic looks about 210 or so… Are you telling me he was only 250??? Alec Baldwin is probably 255… Hill HAD to have been skirting 300, unless he’s 4’9″. This past summer I dropped 32 pounds from a bloated and shambling 267 down to a… still bloated and shambling 235 on a day day… The difference was mostly negligible; Hill HAD to have lost around a hundred.

  • JLC

    I don’t know if that “30 Rock Baldwin” thing is going to hold up much longer. He’s reportedly gone vegan, and he alrealy looks thinner in the latest set of Capital One commercials. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back to 30 Rock near his Mississippi Burning (or at least Great Balls of Fire) weight.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Baldwin’s new girlfriend is a yoga instructor, and seems to have thinned him out a bit.

  • Ray

    Lex is completely right- there’s NO WAY that’s just 40 lbs. Hill was close to 300 at his max, no doubt about it…. At that weight, losing 40 lbs is two pants sizes and a thinner face.

    Thank goodness however he lost the weight or else Jeff wouldn’t have ever interviewed him, right??

    About Baldwin, I watched Hunt for Red October for the zillionth time on TV a few weeks back. It’s astonishing how UTTERLY DIFFERENT Baldwin looks today. It’s not just the weight, it’s as if every part of his body changed, without surgery too.

    RELATED: Anyone catch John Elway lately? HOLY SHIT. It’s not like he gained weight, HE GAINED HAM. He could be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s American brother. Astonishing.

  • It’s a major growth-spurt role, and absolutely deserving of Best Supporting Actor honors, partly because Hill’s decision not to do just raunchy comedies like Get Him To The Greek and The Sitter represents the best impulse that an actor can have

  • Eloi Wrath

    I actually think Baldwin looks like one of the most “naturally” aged stars in Hollywood. Most real guys tend to follow his pattern – grey hair, jowls, pot belly. There are almost no late-40s/early-50s guys who look like Pitt, Cruise, Depp, etc.

  • Movie Watcher

    When someone loses a lot of weight, I always wonder how much of it they will gain back. I say wait about 2 or 3 years and see how much they’ve put back on. You can’t live the rest of your life with the exercise/diet regimen. Hill is what, about 30?

  • cyanic

    I feel like I need to kiss his ass. I want to be a working character actor. I need him to be my sponsor the same way Dustin Hoffman was his.

  • Lawrence Jesterton

    Clooney turned 50 this past Summer and looks as fit as he did 10-15 years ago. He’ll be like Harrison Ford and Eastwood. Guys who will age very well and stay fit.

    Pitt, Depp, and Cruise will likely follow the same pattern.

  • Noiresque

    The aesthetic problem with gastric banding is that the weight loss is too fast. Still, it appears to have worked for Jonah a far better than it did for Peter Jackson, who looked like he was swimming in his own skin.

  • Dave

    noiresque, i’m sure age has something to do with it. young skin is pliable.

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