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Why Jonah Hill Says He 'Hit Pause' on Hollywood: 'I Took Three or Four Years to Reshape Things'

People logo People 8/26/2021 Ally Mauch
Jonah Hill wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Christoph Soeder/Picture Alliance via Getty Images Jonah Hill © Provided by People Christoph Soeder/Picture Alliance via Getty Images Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill is reflecting on his "overnight" fame.

In a recent Q&A with director Adam McKay for GQ Style's Fall/Winter cover story, the 37-year-old actor opened up about shooting to fame after starring in Superbad in his early 20s. 

"It was very overnight for me. Michael Cera and I talk about it all the time. We just had this really rare experience: One day life was one way, and then one day life was a different way," he said. "Right after Superbad, I took a writing job on Brüno [with Sacha Baron Cohen]." 

"I was 23, and they asked me to host SNL for the first time," he continued. "And I didn't want to leave the writers room. I was like, 'Guys, I don't know what to do.; It was my first job working for Sacha. And Sacha was like, 'Dude, you should go host SNL.' To me, having a writing job for Sacha Baron Cohen was as rad as hosting SNL."

The 21 Jump Street star said that he thinks he had "too much power" at a young age and later had to take a break from Hollywood as a result. 

"I was a kid. I had probably too much power for a young person, and too much autonomy, and not enough life skills," he said. "I dropped out of college, and I used to not get why people would go to college. Because if you're ambitious, why would you spend four years just idling? And then I didn't realize until I turned 30 that what those four years gave all my friends was this wobbling period of how to be a person." 

Jonah Hill wearing glasses and looking at the camera © Christoph Soeder/Picture Alliance via Getty Images Jonah Hill

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Jonah Hill wearing glasses: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic © Provided by People Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

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"I was really advanced professionally but really behind personally. All my 20s, I wasn't really looking inward. I was just running toward success. Or trying to find success. And when I was 30, I was like, I've always wanted to be a director, but if I don't get off this train now and write Mid90s, I'm not going to do it," Hill added, referencing his 2018 coming-of-age comedy. "And I hit Pause. I took three or four years to reshape things. I was like, I could just do this for 10 more years and I'm not going to evolve as a person." 

Hill clarified that though he's "still a workaholic," he has found a way to keep his life more balanced than it was in his early days of fame. 

RELATED: Jonah Hill Says 'I Finally Love and Accept Myself,' Shares What 'Can't Faze' Him Anymore

"I still write and direct and get all my projects in order and stuff. But then I also surf every day," he said. "I make myself surf every day. I don't know if dropping out is kind of the accurate word, but I kind of dropped out a little bit. I still love my creativity and my work. But I definitely live a very quiet lifestyle, where I surf, hang with my dog, hang with my nephews. Just keep it mellow."

Elsewhere in the interview, he discussed the power of therapy and his upcoming documentary about his own well-known therapist, Phil Stutz. 

"He invented a set of visualization techniques that greatly changed my life," Hill said of Stutz. "Netflix let me make a doc on therapy and Phil's teachings, and then it became about Phil's life, and then it became about how insane it is that I am making a movie about my therapist, and now it's become… I don't want to give too much away, but it's become very collapsed on itself."

He added, "The person that I vent to while I'm making a film, I now can't vent to, because the film is about him, and I can't let him know it maybe isn't going to work."

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