Jonah Hill is an interesting interview subject for a few reasons. He has a bit of a reputation for not being the easiest person to interview, but he also seems to know that and also seems to be going to great lengths to change that perception. He greeted me in the common area at A24’s Manhattan offices with a very polite, “Hello, I’m Jonah,” before he and I ducked into a small conference room – joined by a woman who is never introduced and would take notes on literally everything I said. (Which, admittedly, made me uncomfortable. Maybe that was the point?) But even with Hill’s pleasant demeanor, he still keeps you at arm’s length, never entirely putting it all out there. What’s interesting about all this is it’s in such sharp contrast with his directorial debut, Mid90s, which is both raw and unfiltered.
Mid90s (which just had its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival and opens this Friday) has drawn comparisons to films like Richard Linklater’s Slacker and Harmony Korine’s screenwriting debut, Kids (even though Hill says he hasn’t seen any comparisons). Mid90s is low on plot and heavy on characters. Set in the decade in its title, Young Stevie (Sunny Suljic) wants to fit in with an older group of skater kids (which include Ray, Fourth Grade, and Fuckshit) and spends all of his free time trying to impress his new friends. There’s conflict (Stevie’s mom doesn’t like his new friends; another kid in the group thinks Stevie is replacing him) but most of the movie is just kids hanging out in the mid-1990s. Again, it’s raw and it’s unfiltered and it’s a look inside of its creator, Jonah Hill, that he’s not about to give us any other way.
How are you?
I’ve interviewed you twice before. I’ll admit, you can make me anxious…
Oh, well, let’s start fresh.
I always just assume it’s my fault.
Life is hard and constantly changing, and why don’t we start fresh.
Compared to 1980s’ nostalgia movies, there seems to be a dearth of ’90s movies. Even ’80s movies like The Wedding Singer were already happening in the ’90s.