December 20, 1983
Los Angeles, California, USA
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Actor Jonah Hill went from providing comic relief as a supporting player to becoming a major creative force within a few short years. After a brief debut in David O. Russell's philosophical comedy "I Heart Huckabees" (2004), the aspiring actor went on to a handful of minor performances until his star began its rapid ascension three years later. Suddenly, he was working with the likes of Steve Carell in a comedy of biblical proportions, "Evan Almighty" (2007), as well as with writer-director Judd Apatow in the unplanned pregnancy romp "Knocked Up" (2007). It was, however, Hill's foul-mouthed, yet oddly endearing performance opposite Michael Cera in the teen buddy comedy "Superbad" (2007) that officially made him a player to watch. Although not starring roles, his characters in the Jason Segal romantic comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008) and the Adam Sandler vehicle "Funny People" (2009) stole every scene they were in. Now a force to be reckoned with, he co-starred with Russell Brand in "Get Him to the Greek" (2010), Brad Pitt in the acclaimed sports drama "Moneyball" (2011), and Jamie Foxx in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" (2012). Expanding his creative scope to include writing, directing and producing, Hill had positioned himself as one of young Hollywood's key players in an astonishingly short period of time.
Despite his success as an onscreen personality, writing was always a primary interest of Hill's, even prior to his ascent to stardom. Born Jonah Hill Feldstein on Dec. 15, 1983 in Los Angeles, CA, Hill was enamored with the sharp comic writing of television programs like "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ) and "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98); going on to study writing and drama at the New School in New York. While there, he regularly contributed short stories and performance pieces at the Black and White Bar in the East Village, where he developed a bit of a following. Among those who came to see Hill perform were Dustin Hoffman's son and daughter, Rebecca and Jake; with the trio becoming fast friends soon after. When Hill returned to Los Angeles between semesters, the Hoffmans introduced him to their father, who was impressed enough with Hill's comic talents after hearing a prank call CD he had made, the he tapped the young man to audition for a small role in "I Heart Huckabees" (2004) for director David O. Russell. The experience not only gave Hill his first screen role, but also earned him a manager, Peter Principato, who introduced his new client to a fellow named Judd Apatow. Despite the age difference, the pair hit it off; with the loyal Apatow giving Hill a small but scene-stealing role in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005). As a customer of eBay store owner Catherine Keener who wants to buy a pair of garish high-heeled boots, Hill nailed the uncomfortable scene like an old pro.
By 2006, Hill's acting career was already in high gear. He co-starred in the debut season of the uproarious TV comedy series, "Campus Ladies" (Oxygen Network, 2006-07), as the resident advisor to the show's lead characters, a pair of forty-something women who enroll in a small college. Hill then had small roles in "Click" (as the teenaged version of Adam Sandler's son) and "Grandma's Boy" (2006), before attracting attention as Justin Long's neurotic pal and second banana in "Accepted" (2006). Though critics largely panned the project, Hill was frequently singled out as one of its saving graces. The year 2007 saw Hill in a string of hits, starting with Apatow's "Knocked Up," as the loudest of Seth Rogen's crew of layabouts, and "Evan Almighty," which was soon followed by a small role as a "Junior Philosopher" in the indie comedy "Rocket Science" (2007). "Superbad" offered Hill his first starring role, and he made the most of it, starring as the screen version of writer and co-star Seth Rogen, depicted in the quirky comedy as a manic, foul-mouthed, but deeply loyal friend who is terrified to be separated from his lifelong pal (Cera) after graduation from high school. Their mutual desire to make up for lost time and solidify the bonds of their friendship lent the broad comedy a charming sense of sweetness, which boosted critical reaction to the film considerably.
Hill's résumé doubled in size for 2008, with roles in the Apatow-produced "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Walk Hard" (as the brother of hard-living musician John C. Reilly) and "Strange Wilderness" (which reunited him with Long) for Adam Sandler. He filmed a funny cameo for the Ben Stiller smash sequel "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009) and a supporting role in the Adam Sandler/Judd Apatow dramedy, "Funny People" (2009). The actor nabbed an unusual dramatic role with "The Invention of Lying" (2009) as a suicidal neighbor of Ricky Gervais, but continued to deliver in his inimitable deadpan way in Sacha Baron Cohen's "Brüno" (2009), as an aging prankster on an episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ), and as a Viking youth in the animated blockbuster "How to Train Your Dragon" (2010). Hill graduated to leading roles with the "Sarah Marshall" spin-off "Get Him to the Greek" (2010), in which he starred as a meek record company intern trying to wrangle the outrageous English rock star Russell Brand into making a career-saving performance date in Los Angeles. Hill received good reviews for his meatiest acting role yet: playing the hyper-confident son of Marisa Tomei in "Cyrus" (2010), doing battle with John C. Reilly for his mother's attention and affection.
Continuing his string of successful animated projects, Hill voiced Hal, a love-sick schlub turned into a superman by the formerly villainous "Megamind" (2010) in an action-comedy that paired him with Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt. He re-teamed with Pitt - this time in the flesh - for the sports docudrama "Moneyball" (2011), in which he played an economics expert helping Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane (Pitt) assemble a winning team that the financially-strapped organization can afford. The inspirational and entertaining film earned high praise for nearly all involved, including Hill, Pitt and screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. In fact, Hill's performance earned him several critics awards nominations, as well as nods at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Capitalizing on his recent success and love of cartoons, Hill co-created, produced and starred on the animated sitcom "Allen Gregory" (Fox, 2011- ) as the titular, genius-level seven-year-old who is forced to attend public school after his non-traditional family suffers a financial setback. Viewers were caught by surprise when a markedly slimmer Hill was seen alongside action star Sam Worthington in a commercial spot for the highly-anticipated video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" (Activision, 2011) in November of that year.
Hill went on to play the lead role in the raunchy comedy "The Sitter" (2011) - filmed prior to his impressive weight loss - as a suspended college student whose impromptu child care gig leads to a dangerously wild adventure. From there, Hill scored a big hit with "21 Jump Street" (2012), a comedic take on the popular teen-centric crime drama of the 1980s that starred a then-unknown Johnny Depp. Here Hill was joined by Channing Tatum as both played a pair of baby-faced police officers forced to relive their high school years by posing as students in order to stop the spread of a new synthetic drug and arrest the dealer. Though some were skeptical about rehashing a television series that was on the air when both actors were still in grade school, both audiences and critics were pleasantly surprised when the movie turned out to be a rather entertaining look back while becoming a big box office hit. Hill had the exact opposite experience with "The Watch" (2012), a critically maligned comedy about four lamebrains (Hill, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Richard Ayoade) who form a neighborhood watch, only to discover an alien invasion. After being skewered by a vast majority of critics, "The Watch" died an ignominious death at the box office. From there, Hill sought redemption when he joined the cast of Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti Western, "Django Unchained" (2012), which followed a revenge-mined slave (Jamie Foxx) who helps a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) track down a pair of ruthless killers in exchange for his freedom and a reunion with his wife (Kerry Washington).
Hill slyly tweaked his public persona in "This Is The End" (2013), a broad comedy about the apocalypse written and directed by his longtime pals Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The film starred Rogen, Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride as fictionalized versions of themselves trapped in Franco's garish Hollywood Hills mansion during the end of the world. Hill's take on himself as a nice guy with a barely-hidden passive-aggressive streak led to some of the movie's most subtle and clever jokes.
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