For years, it seemed like Jonah Hill was popping up in practically every comedy film. From playing Seth in Superbad to starring in the Jump Street movies alongside Channing Tatum, Hill kept landing one hilarious role after another. He seemed to be in a groove, and every time you saw his name on a poster, you knew it was a movie worth checking out. Even when he appeared in dramas like The Wolf of Wall Street, he dependably brought the comic relief.
Since starring in the Netflix series Maniac in 2018, it seems like Hill stepped back from acting. However, fans of Hill shouldn’t despair — he definitely isn’t leaving Hollywood. The affable star has dealt with some challenges in his personal life, and he’s been hard at work developing different projects including voice acting, designing a clothing collection and even directing. After spending more than a decade developing his career, he seems determined to take things in new directions. Here’s what Hill has been up to, and where you’ll be able to catch him next.
He’s been doing voice work
Despite his recent lack of screen time, Hill has still been working consistently. The LA-born actor has contributed his voice to several films over the past couple years, so even if you haven’t actually seen him on screen, there’s a good chance you’ve heard him.
In 2019, Hill had a supporting role in Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum alongside Matthew McConaughey. Since then, he hasn’t appeared in any other live-action movies, which may be why it feels like he hasn’t been putting in hours in front of the camera. Instead, Hill lent his voice to two animated films: you can hear him as Snotlout in last year’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and he returned as Green Lantern in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.
Of course, his Lego work is particularly clever (Hill’s GL also appeared in The Lego Batman Movie) because the joke is on Ryan Reynolds and anybody else involved with the sad state of affairs brought about by Reynolds’ ill-advised 2011 Green Lantern film. Now the outcast of this brick-built Justice League, Hill’s Green Lantern wants so badly to hang with Superman (voiced by Hill’s Jump Street buddy Channing Tatum), but Supes will have nothing to do with him. Here’s hoping that Hill and Tatum get to keep these incarnations alive, because they are a lot of fun.
Mediocre reviews for The Beach Bum
In 2019, Hill had a supporting role in Harmony Korine’s flick The Beach Bum. He played Lewis, the literary agent to hedonistic poet Moondog (Matthew McConaughey). Korine is a filmmaker known for unsettling and experimental movies like Gummo, his work often leaves critics divided, and this particular film was no different. While some critics found the film had merit, others completely panned it. Ultimately the public reception was muddled, and overall reviews were mediocre to middling.
"Writer-director Harmony Korine achieves a Zen state of unfunny with this pointless non-comedy," critic Peter Bradshaw wrote in a review for The Guardian. "This can only provoke something like awe that something so awful can still get made." The film underperformed at the box office and wasn’t exactly in the running for any Academy awards. With so many great films already on Hill’s resume, The Beach Bum doesn’t necessarily stand out as a top-tier example of his work, so he didn’t receive much publicity for appearing in the movie. When all was said and done, he may have been thankful for that.
His best performance flew under the radar
If you were to ask Hill which role made him the most proud, there’s a good chance he would tell you it was in the lighthearted 2018 Gus Van Sant drama Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Hill played Donnie Green, the Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for Joaquin Phoenix’s John Callahan, a character who is left quadriplegic after a drunk driving accident. Although Hill loved working on the film, and looks back on it as a highlight of his career, he was frustrated with Amazon Studios’ lackluster promotion of the movie.
"It’s the best acting I have done or will ever do, but no one saw it," Hill stated in an interview on GQ’s Instagram. He expressed disappointment that Amazon Studios had bungled the release, failing to create enough buzz around the film before it hit theaters. To back up Hill’s point, critics generally enjoyed Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, which stands at a 77 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Basically, you can’t take your eyes off Hill. And you get the feeling that Phoenix can’t either," critic Charlotte O’Sullivan wrote in a review for the Evening Standard. "That gravitational pull is exactly right for the story. Donnie rearranges John’s universe."
He dropped out of The Batman
If you’re a fan of Batman, you may have heard rumors that Hill was slated to appear in Warner Bros’ next iteration of The Dark Knight, Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Hill was allegedly lined up to play a villain in the film, opposite Robert Pattison as Batman. While the studio never confirmed which villain Hill was potentially going to play, rumors abounded that he was being considered for the role of The Penguin.
But Hill’s talks with the studio ultimately did not lead to a part in the film, and it seems in retrospect that whatever negotiations were happening may have just swallowed up a window in his availability. Eventually, the news broke that Hill was no longer in consideration for the role, and instead the movie has progressed along with Colin Farrell as Penguin, Paul Dano as Riddler and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman — which we can assume with some certainty was a part Jonah Hill was never considered to play. The Batman recently wrapped filming, and is scheduled to be released in 2022.
Hill has no intentions of quitting acting, but as a child, he was interested in writing and directing – and today, he’s taking opportunities to pursue projects that allow him to get behind the camera.
Hill has experimented with writing and directing before. He wrote for the TV series Allen Gregory in 2011, and he also wrote the storylines for 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street. He has worked as a producer on films like Richard Jewell and the documentary Beastie Boys Story. Hill also directed the music video for the Vampire Weekend song "Sunflower," which dropped in 2019.
Around that same time, Hill made his childhood dream come true when he wrote and directed his own film, the coming-of-age comedic drama Mid90s, which told the story of Stevie, a teenager with a troubled home life who longs to find a sense of brotherhood with a group of skateboarders. Mid90s received positive reviews from critics, and chances seem good that Hill will attempt to direct another film in the future. While such efforts behind the camera may interfere with acting, Hill seems intent on branching out.
He released a clothing collection with Adidas
Hill never seems shy about showing off a sense of style, and several years ago he decided that he wanted to start his very own clothing line. But before he could even begin the process, Adidas reached out to him and offered the opportunity to collaborate on a collection.
"It was like, of course I’m going to learn from these geniuses and collaborate with them," Hill said in an interview discussing the launch with GQ. "Who wouldn’t take that opportunity, and to get your stuff worn and seen by more people and also have a great education?" Hill put his personal apparel ideas on hold, with plans to later apply lessons learned from Adidas towards his own future efforts as a clothier.
Hill explained that the design process was time-consuming – he began officially collaborating with Adidas and working on the line two years before it was released to the public in 2020. Now that he’s wrapped up the work on his Adidas collection, he’s free to pursue his dream of starting his own clothing line.
He’s not a fan of the press
Hill has had multiple interactions with the press that have left him feeling less than enthused. He’s been asked questions in interviews that may have made him unhappy, and has been known to clash with the paparazzi in public. Then there’s the issue of his weight, a media preoccupation that may have impacted his self-confidence. While he hopes that people understand his worst interactions with the press don’t represent who he really is, Hill says he’s exasperated with public scrutiny.
"I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid-thirties, even in front of family and friends," Hill recently shared in an Instagram caption after The Daily Mail published paparazzi photos of him at the beach. He continued, "Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers." When you consider such statements, it’s no wonder that Hill prefers to maintain strong boundaries between his personal and professional life.
He called off his engagement
In October 2019, Hill got engaged to then-girlfriend Gianna Santos, a stylist and producer who worked in the beauty industry. The couple generally preferred to keep their relationship private, and while the paparazzi occasionally snapped a photo of them out and about together, they tried their best to stay out of the spotlight. But in October 2020, just about a year after getting engaged, the couple chose to call off their engagement. Neither of them opened up about the details to the press, but according to a source who spoke to People, the split was allegedly amicable.
After such a difficult and uncertain year, it’s no surprise that Hill would rather stay mum on the details of the break up. At this stage in his career, he has dealt with enough animosity from the press, and chances are, he would like to avoid dealing with any speculation about the end of his relationship.
He’s picky about his roles
Hill is an undeniably funny actor, and for years, he made audiences laugh in films like Superbad and 21 Jump Street. But despite receiving pressure to appear in more comedies, Hill is much pickier about the roles he accepts today, and he doesn’t want to continue playing the same characters over and over again. "I love those films," Hill told IndieWire, "but I also think that if you look back at those films, a lot of what they’re showing is major bro comedy, and bro masculinity." Hill is open to passing up comedies to pursue more serious roles.
Hill is also on the lookout for opportunities to work with female directors. "It’s insane that my perspective as an actor has only been a male’s vision," Hill commented in an interview with The Guardian. Perhaps he won’t be on screen as much as he used to be, simply because he’s being more selective – but his future roles will certainly be worth monitoring.
He lost his brother in 2017
Hill is very close with his family – his sister, Beanie Feldstein, has appeared in films like Lady Bird and Booksmart, and his brother, Jordan Feldstein, managed the band Maroon 5. But tragedy struck Hill’s family in 2017 when Jordan unexpectedly passed away after suffering a pulmonary embolism at 40 years old.
Hill was devastated by his brother’s passing, and in the aftermath of Jordan’s death, he preferred to maintain his privacy rather than speaking to the press about his loss. However, Beanie did publish an essay titled "Grief Glasses" in InStyle, in which she described her experience of grief as wearing a pair of glasses that she couldn’t take off. "And these glasses make me see the world differently than I did before. The colors bleed together more vividly," Feldstein wrote. "But they are somehow more than they ever were before. More visceral. More vibrant. More present. Simultaneously more awe-inspiring and more aching."
He likes working with smaller studios
Hill has appeared in plenty of films produced by Hollywood’s most storied studios. But while actors can benefit from working on tentpole films, the paycheck and publicity comes with a lot of pressure. As Hill continues his pivot to working on passion projects and trying his hand at writing and directing, he has increasingly realized that sometimes, putting out a film with a big studio just isn’t worth it.
In an interview with Vulture, Hill said that today, he prefers to work with smaller studios when possible, because he doesn’t like to deal with the expectation "to make a bajillion dollars and be so mainstream." That’s why he put out his film Mid90s with A24, a smaller, independent studio known for distributing critically acclaimed flicks like Moonlight and The Lighthouse. To hear Hill tell it, working with A24 gave him the freedom to depict a story he wanted to tell in Mid90s without compromising its artistic vision.
He’s working on a Netflix film
If you’re looking forward to seeing Hill on screen again, you’re in luck. He has been hard at work on the upcoming Netflix political satire Don’t Look Up, which is written and directed by Adam McKay and appears to be in the spirit of his recent output that includes Vice and The Big Short. The film features an A-list cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as a pair of astronomers warning Earth abut an approaching asteroid, only to discover that society is less responsive to their efforts than they would expect. Hill is reportedly playing the son (and Chief of Staff) of Meryl Streep’s POTUS.
Much like everything else in Hollywood for the past year, production on the film has been intermittently delayed because of COVID-19 precautions. But Don’t Look Up is expected to get a release in late 2021, and with a cast that includes DiCaprio, Lawrence, Streep, Chris Evans, Cate Blanchett, Ariana Grande, and other big names, it seems likely to get some major attention.
So, although it may seem like Jonah Hill has been lying low for the past couple years, you’ll likely be hearing his name everywhere again soon enough.