Jonah Hill first worked with Russell Brand in the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall playing the character of a hotel waiter named Matthew, who has a fan crush on rock idol Aldous Snow, portrayed by Russell Brand. Their great on screen chemistry ignited the movie’s screenwriter/director, Nicholas Stoller, to consider writing another movie specifically for them.
That film, Get Him to the Greek, opens this week. In it Brand reprises his role as rock ‘n’ roll idol Aldous Snow although, due to a romantic break-up and a nose-diving career, he has fallen off-the-wagon and is now a walking disaster.
Jonah Hill portrays a new character, the ambitious Aaron Green, who has been given the job of a lifetime, flying to London, picking up Snow and getting him to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in time for his big comeback performance.
Hill spoke at the press junket for the movie about reuniting with Russell Brand and director Nicholas Stoller, and how his onscreen persona is totally different from whom he truly is.
What was it like working with Nick and Russell again?
It was great, Nick Stoller is one of my best friends and Russell is a good friend. We all love and respect each other and I think it was really incredible to get to work with two people again in such close proximity that you really respect.
How did Nick pitch this new premise to you?
I think Nick noticed Russell and I had a unique chemistry on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and he wanted to explore a movie where we were the two lead characters, even though the only correlation between the two films is that Russell plays Aldous Snow in both films, I play a completely different character, Aaron Green in this film. Nick just had the idea and pitched it to us and we were both into it.
With all these Judd Apatow-type movies, it comes down to the chemistry and familiarity between all of you. But you’ve welcomed in some new people in this. How was it to work with Elizabeth Moss and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs and to bring them into your world?
It was great. Mad Men is one of my favorite shows, probably the best show on TV, and Elizabeth plays Peggy on Mad Men, so it was great to get to work with her and have her play my girlfriend in the movie.
Diddy was the real surprise, because he heard about the movie and wanted to audition. He got my phone number and he started calling me and we started talking and then he flew himself out, he auditioned for Nick and I, and he’s was just amazing right off the bat.
I think the best part of making these movies is sometimes you get to really shock people by a performance in a pleasant way, and I think people are not expecting Diddy to be as hysterical as he is in this movie.
What was Russell like to work with on the set, knowing that you’re going toe-to-toe with him and you never know what he’s going to do?
It’s great, I love improvising and I think I can be very spontaneous in that way and really keep an open mind and allow the scene to go wherever it needs to go. I just really respect Russell and I really like him as a person so it just was super fun to get to do all these great scenes together.
It seems this film had a bigger scope than a lot of comedies, how was it to shoot in all these different locations and then to shoot at the Greek Theatre as well?
It was amazing, I’m used to shooting movies in one location and get to go to London, and to shoot in New York City and Vegas and at the Greek Theatre, I’m from Los Angeles and I saw a lot of my formative concerts there, so it was just a dream. It was super surreal and awesome.
Was this as much fun to make as it seems?
It was extremely fun, like I said shooting in these really iconic locations were pretty mind-blowing at times. It’s really a true rock ‘n’ roll comedy, it’s a road movie, and it’s just super fun and energetic.
Your character is different than anything you’ve played in the past, it’s a little bit more earnest and honest and not as broad as some of the characters you’ve done.
It’s the closest to me of any of the characters I’ve played. I think the common misconception, because I starred in Superbad and that was a very popular movie, is that I’m like my character in Superbad. And honestly, I’m not. I’m a 26 year old guy who works really hard, isn’t trying to have sex with different women all the time, besides my girlfriend.
And in this movie it was important that I represented the audience, because it was the ultimate fantasy of who wouldn’t want to spend 3 days on the road going crazy with their favorite rock star? And I had to be the person watching the movie; you get to see that through me.