If you've been following Jonah Hill on Instagram as of late, he looks like he's, in a word, thriving.
The 37-year-old two-time Oscar nominee's hair is noticeably blond, he's taken up surfing and he's become one of the internet's go-to body-positivity champions. As he proclaimed to Adam McKay—the director of Hill's upcoming Don't Look Up—for a GQ Style interview, "What is great without chasing being young and on trend? That's my energy. I'm 37. Not that I'm old, but I'm not young. I'm not 25. And I don't chase youth, and I don't chase trends."
But, as he explained in their newly published chat, he didn't always enjoy this level of apparent confidence. As a kid, he made himself the butt of the joke to compensate for what he felt he lacked, even if that meant injury.
"I sucked at skateboarding. But I would throw myself down 10 stairs to make my friends laugh, knowing I couldn't ever do any trick that would be good. Or in comedy, I would be brutal to myself, or allow brutality to me, because I felt like that was my seat at the table," he recalled to McKay. "And what making Mid90s did for me personally was make me understand that I can just be a good person and have value and sit at the table. I don't need some supernatural thing to offer that is beyond just being a good dude."
Hill started seeing a therapist around the time he began making the coming-of-age film, about an abused 12-year-old who seeks solace in the skateboard scene. He wrote and directed the 2018 movie, which offered some healing. "It was just very therapeutic to watch a kid go through that and maybe at the end of the movie, almost in a fantasy way that I didn't have, have someone older than him say, 'Yo, you're enough,'" he explained. "That's how I look at that film and what it's about."
Making that project also marked a significant moment in Hill's career, a conscious decision he made after years of "running toward success."
"I was a kid," he recalled of his twentysomething self circa Superbad. "I had probably too much power for a young person, and too much autonomy, and not enough life skills. 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."
Unlike them, he hadn't had that free time to figure himself out. "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," he explained. "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. And I hit Pause. I took three or four years to reshape things."
Had he not, the Hill we see today may not have been. He told McKay, "I was like, I could just do this for 10 more years and I'm not going to evolve as a person."
Read the full cover story "Jonah Hill is SuperGood" in GQ Style's Fall/Winter issue and on GQ.com.