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I love me some Jonah Hill. This quirky, impossible to pigeon-hole actor has delivered a slew of terrific performances, some of them in terrible films (THE SITTER). Even there, though, that underlying tension between dufus and psychopath is palpable and endlessly fascinating. AMPAS members recognized that two years ago when he received his first Oscar(tm) nomination as the number-crunching sports nerd in 2012’s MONEYBALL. As far as I’m concerned, he proved himself as much more than a comedy punchline as the eponymous CYRUS from 2010. Playing a 21-year-old mama’s boy engaged in a possibly lethal game of cat-and-mouse with his mother’s new boyfriend, he brought suspense to comedy and vice-versa with a stunning agility. Perhaps it was his breakout role in SUPERBAD that stereotyped him as a one-note gross-out comic. Yet looking back on that film, not one of my favorites, you can see he’s investing more in his character than absolutely necessary. The same can be said of his work in GET HIM TO THE GREEK, in which he played soulful straight-man to the Russell Brand’s self-absorbed brand of antic. His recent turn in THIS IS THE END was another superb comedic performance in which he and his co-stars toyed with their public images, both spoofing and embracing them. In 21 JUMP STREET as both writer and-co-star he defied anyone from underestimating him again. Now, if we can just get people to realize that Hill’s once and future JUMP STREET co-star, Channing Tatum, is more than just a pretty face and a preternatural set of abs.
Click here for my interview with Mr. Hill for MONEYBALL, which also includes his work in CYRUS, and his all too short-lived animated series on Fox, in which he once again was both writer and co-star, as well as co-creator.