In case you need reminding, Jonah Hill has two Oscar nominations. He’s worked with Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”), and the Coen brothers (“Hail, Caesar!”). He is, in other words, an incredibly talented actor as well as a generally hilarious person.
Hill’s next role is in “War Dogs,” as Efraim Diveroli, a Miami Beach bro who somehow gets a contract to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms to the United States (it’s based on a true story). The New York Times Magazine asked Hill his secret to being a great actor.
“I watch things over and over again,” Hill said. He picks movies by great directors — like Paul Thomas Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, and Spike Jonze — and watches them 20 times. Hill immerses himself in the movies and watches them at a high volume “because he has bad hearing from listening to live music as a youth without taking the proper precautions” and “until he is able to forget that he is watching a movie.”
The strategy has taught him to be picky about the roles he chooses. He picks roles based on the director more than the script: “I’ve had scripts that were not even complete, and the director was amazing, and I ended up being proud of the movie,” Hill said.
This strategy means that Hill has worked with some of the best directors alive, but it can also explain some of his flops. Right after his Oscar-nominated role in “Moneyball,” he starred in “The Sitter,” a comedy that’s sitting at 21% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its director was David Gordon Green, who made acclaimed indie films like “George Washington” and “Undertow.”
But things are looking up for Hill. According to the Times, he’s planning to direct his first movie next year — one that he wrote himself.
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