The general rise of Jonah Hill’s profile as an actor was one that very few people could have seen coming. Not that Hill didn’t always show signs of talent – his brief appearance in Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin as a weirdly persistent customer at Catherine Keener’s Ebay store was memorable enough to steer his future recognizability into “oh, that guy!” territory with audiences.
From that point onward, Hill’s forward momentum has rapidly grown. Though his roles remained somewhat understated until 2007’s Superbad, his onscreen persona has a unique quality that audiences genuinely enjoy and respond to. It seemed that a new comedic talent was definitely arriving on the scene and for quite some time, Hill appeared content with furthering exactly that purpose.
But in 2011, things changed. Hill dropped a great deal of weight after appearing in Moneyball – a performance that brought him his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Though he continues to take comedic roles, his second best supporting actor Oscar nomination in 2013 for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street made it clear that he’s evolving out of being pigeonholed as the funny chubby guy. Hill’s multi-dimensional talent is now preparing for another new challenge as Variety is reporting that he’ll direct his first feature film, which is based on a script that he wrote.
At present, the film’s plot details are not entirely clear, but what is known is that the story will deal with the coming of age of a young skateboarder and his circle of skater friends in 1990s Los Angeles. Hill has previously revealed that he initially wanted to direct from a young age, but admitted that he wasn’t good at giving directions to actors. The film has yet to confirm any production dates or cast, but we do know that Hill will not star in it. As far as screenwriting goes however, Hill has shared scripting duties on a few projects over the years, including both Jump Street films, but nothing yet as ambitious as this. He's also stepped into the arena of production, most recently with Emma Stone and Cary Fukunaga on the upcoming Maniac TV series.
It will certainly be interesting to see who does eventually end up getting on board with this project, given Hill’s extensive network of celebrity friends. Whatever anxiety he might have once felt regarding his ability to direct has obviously been overcome - and his keen sensibilities for both comedy and drama will likely play quite well with within a world of his own making.
Actors wanting to direct is nothing new in Hollywood, and while some actors can help bring a story alive via their performance, it’s an entirely different situation working from behind the camera. There may not be any guarantees in Hollywood, but Hill’s work ethic has brought him to this advantageous point, where the sky is the limit until proven otherwise.