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Monday, September 26, 2011

Jonah Hill interview: “I hate it when someone complains how hard Hollywood is”

How did your upcoming animated show, Allen Gregory, come about?
Comedically, I am a product of The Simpsons. I went to the school of The Simpsons. It’s how I learned about comedy, and a lot about life. I think that show has had, at times, the most brilliant writing ever. I truly believe that it’s influenced anyone interesting in the last twenty years.

So, when I was 6 or 7, my parents asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I said, “I want to live in Springfield.” So my parents explained that that was not a possibility, and so I said, “Well, then, I wanna work on The Simpsons.” And they said, “Who’s your favorite character?” And I said, “Homer.” And they said, “Well, there’s a guy who does the voice of Homer, and there are other people who write what Homer says.” And I said, “That’s what I want to do.” So I had a pretty firm idea that I wanted a job as staff writer on The Simpsons when I was 6. And then in high school the first stories I would write were spec episodes of The Simpsons. Not with a screenwriting computer program or anything, just, like, in Word. Like a book! So, years later, Fox asked me to be a voice in a pilot they were working on, and I thought, Well, I’ve always wanted to create my own animated show, and if I’m the voice in someone else’s vision, then they already have me so why would they want me to create something else for them? So I politely declined.

I lived above Jarrad Paul and Andy Mogel, they’re really talented writers, and we’d write in each other’s apartments a lot. They had written a script I really liked called Himmelfarb. I walked in their apartment and said, “We’re going to create an animated series together.” And after three or four weeks, we had Allen Gregory, which is going to follow The Simpsons this fall. And the significance of that is so beyond even a childhood make-a-wish/what-the-f&$# kind of occasion that I cannot believe it’s real.

You must be a good multitasker.
I don’t sleep very often! I come from a very hardworking entrepreneurial background, and I would hate myself so much if I looked back on the golden opportunity that people like Judd Apatow gave me and felt I wasted it. I’m not going to be in Tahiti having a money fight with someone! I hate it when I read a Hollywood interview where someone complains how hard it is. That’s all bullshit. We’re so lucky to do this. I just want to work as hard as I can while there’s opportunity to work.

Is it strange to think that if it’s a hit, unlike a movie, this show could be a part of your working life for a long time?
It would be so joyous. Jarrad and Andy and I have a wonderful connection. And the whole writing staff — there’s fifteen of us, all young, energetic, crazy, fun. Fox calls us the traveling party.

But you’ll also be running what could turn into a big business enterprise.
It’s funny. I always say that Superbad and all the early Judd days was my college. For myself and Seth [Rogen] and Michael Cera, that was college because a lot of us didn’t go or only went a little. And this show, I feel, is like my law school. We’re a little older and busier and more stressed out, but we’re still trying to have fun. If I could be with these people for however many years, it’d be so cool. And I’m so proud of the show. This is the first thing where people can really come down hard on me if they hate it. I can’t pass the buck; I can’t blame anyone else.

That doesn’t make you nervous?
No! F&$# being nervous, man! It’s amazing! If you believe in it, who cares? It’s so easy to judge stuff, but, you know, put stuff out there! When Conan left NBC, he gave this beautiful last speech on his show. I literally was crying, because it was, “Don’t be a judgmental asshole. Put something out there, and then even if everybody hates it and it sucks, you say, ‘Okay, I’ve got something else — how about this?’” It’s so easy to judge. So I’d rather put myself out there and be judged than be too scared to put anything out there.

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