Jonah Hill on the Myth of the Dark Artist and the Secret to Happiness


I’m older than you, but for my generation, it was Jim Morrison. It was Jimi Hendrix. It was these people that were literally killing themselves. And then I heard a musician interviewed about Jim Morrison and they’re like, No, when that band started,they were really cool, but then he started drinking so much that they sucked. You never hear that part of the story, that they were young guys who were exciting and cool, and then he started drinking a gallon of gin a day and he became insufferable. 
He couldn’t show up. He literally couldn’t show up to the fucking thing and do his job. I think the biggest generational difference I can throw out there is between how John Belushi’s death was perceived and how Chris Farley’s death was perceived. When I was a kid and I heard about John Belushi dying, it was romanticized, like, “Yeah, dude, he was punk rock and he died from heroin,” and all this shit. And then when I was 13 or 14, I lost Chris Farley, and the shit wasn’t sexy or romanticized. It was just sad. I cried for a fucking week when Chris Farley died, and it wasn’t like I was like, “How punk is that, dude?” It was like, “What the fuck? This sucks.”

He hosted SNL about two months before he died. He was clearly really struggling, but he was such a sweetheart, he still had this big, loving, eager-to-please heart. And I had the same reaction. What you really see is, this was someone who was in a lot of pain and trying desperately to deal with it. And you’re right. The way that hit was nothing but sad. Everyone was just like, We lost someone who was giving us a ton of joy, and he should have had joy. 
He should have had joy. That breaks my heart. So when you ask me what I do, I’m like, Work shit comes easy to me. I love work. I love being creative. I want to be happy. I literally want to be happy. That is the mission of my life, that I work hard at.

Can you talk a little bit about this shift? What was it like when you were coming up and you were doing the big hit comedies? I guess, first off, just to give this some sort of frame, do you remember the first time we ever met? 
I remember when we met, because Seth Rogen lived in an apartment behind Canter’s [Deli, in Los Angeles], and then Seth was the first one to start making paper. And so he got a house, and then I moved into his apartment behind Canter’s. There was a taco shop around the corner, and you and Will Ferrell were eating tacos. It must’ve been right before or after Superbad came out, but I remember that you guys wanted to talk to me. And I sat down and talked to you guys. And you guys were, like, talking to me. And I was like, This is the sickest! This is it! I get to talk to these people I’m obsessed with.



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