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Jonah Hill on Being Superbad

Published August 14, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Superbad Superbad

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen wrote a script when they were 13. The characters were named Seth and Evan. Once their friend Judd Apatow became a mogul, they broke out the old script to Superbad. Jonah Hill plays Seth, but by now it is not actually a portrayal of Rogen.

Jonah Hill on Superbad

“I'm not doing an impression of Seth,” said Hill. “”It's not like his Walk The Line or anything like that. He wrote the character in his voice because he was originally going to play it, but then when I came along, he's one of my best friends also, we've been together a ton, and it was more like how do we make this more for your strong suit as opposed to mine. We shot Knocked Up right before and that was kind of his chance to show what his voice was about, and then this was kind of my opportunity to show what I could do that was different than him.”

Seth and Evan try to impress girls at their high school graduation party by using a fake ID to get beer. Throughout all their adventures, they learn that all they really have to do is be themselves. Awww.

“I think it works to be yourself. If it does or it doesn't, I'm not going to try anything else. I'm myself and if you like that, you can be friends with me, and if not, then you don't have to be. I think there should always be some sort of message to be yourself. I think there's a lot of themes to the movie, but I definitely have realized I'm not going to try and be somebody else to appease anybody. The character is kind of like the same way, like take it or leave it. He's kind of unapologetically who he is and it's kind of like that in real life. You shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself to make anyone like you more. And they're not liking you, they're liking what you're pretending to be.”

Don’t worry, the film is still full of raunchy, drunken silliness. It just turns out there’s more to these guys than that. “I don't think he's trying to be the cool drunk guy. I think he's trying to get alcohol because that's what the girl he likes asked him to do. I think he's just trying to really make her happy. I don't think anyone really assumes that being a drunk guy is going to help you in any way. It's a pretty absurd thing to believe, that being an out of control drunk person is going to help you in any way. I think it's pretty clear that it only makes you look more foolish. But I think the intention was that she would be drunk and I would be drunk and that when you're young, that's how you assume people assume people hook up with each other because their inhibitions were gone.”

There is also a bit more heart to the raunchy sex talk in which Seth and Evan engage throughout the film. They may analyze pornography, but the really have issues with codependency and separation. “The whole story is Michael [Cera] and I having separation anxiety about each other, and when you're a teenage male, you can't really have conversations. You're too insecure and freaked out by emotion to have a conversation to the effect of like, ‘Hey, I'm freaked out about this. Are you freaked out?’ It takes the whole movie to kind of have that conversation. So talking about sex and talking about things like that, you don't have to talk about anything that has real emotion to it. It's kind of a safe subject. For teenagers to talk about it allows you not to talk about anything you're really freaking out about.”

Well, if Superbad is not a how to manual for teenage guys, at least we can turn to the real Hill for advice. “I had better luck than this character, thank god, but there were always kind of small ironies that would prevent me from having sex, which was always really funny and I tried to put in the movie, but a lot of them didn't end up in there. But I would get really close and then something terrible would happen that would prevent me from having sex, and then I would just kind of be back at square one. Like prom, the girl I'd liked all through high school and finally started dating, and then I just got hammered and vomited in the van with everybody. I didn't have sex that night. I was back at square one, but I got her later. I told her I was going to tell this story so she's not going to be mad, but I eventually about a year later, just so you know.”

Superbad opens to theaters on August 17th.

For trailer, stills, synopsis and more movie info, go to the Superbad Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures.

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