The announcement comes ahead of his new documentary, Stutz, which details his journey in therapy.
Jonah Hill has had a storied career full of nuance. He can steal comedic scenes in goofy blockbusters like Superbad just as easily as he can enhance a more serious, award-courting film like The Wolf of Wall Street, and he made his directorial debut with the 2018 film Mid90s. He’s a bit of an industry darling in that way, and now he’s taking his good favor and cinematic versatility in a new direction. Hill just finished directing a documentary about the work he’s done with his therapist, and he’s taking an approach to his career that appears to reflect that work.
Hill has struggled with anxiety, especially when it comes to dealing with the high demands of doing press and public-facing events in order to promote his work. So to honor the spirit of the film, called Stutz, Hill will forgo all press at the upcoming fall festivals where the doc will be shown. Hill released a statement to Deadline about his decision.
“Through this journey of self-discovery within the film, I have come to the understanding that I have spent nearly 20 years experiencing anxiety attacks, which are exacerbated by media appearances and public facing events,” Hill wrote. “I am so grateful that the film will make its world premiere at a prestigious film festival this fall, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences around the world in the hope that it will help those struggling. However, you won’t see me out there promoting this film, or any of my upcoming films, while I take this important step to protect myself. If I made myself sicker by going out there and promoting it, I wouldn’t be acting true to myself or to the film.
“I usually cringe at letters or statements like this but I understand that I am of the privileged few who can afford to take time off,” he continued. “I won’t lose my job while working on my anxiety. With this letter and with ‘Stutz,’ I’m hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff. So they can take steps towards feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their issues more clearly.”
Jonah Hill has admitted that he’s been bothered by so many journalists asking him about his weight loss in recent years. “I know you mean well, but I kindly ask that you do not ask me about my body,” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post. “Good or bad, I want to politely let you know it’s not helpful and doesn’t feel good."
Other celebrities across industries have made similar moves to protect their mental health. Tennis star Naomi Osaka famously took a stand last summer against the often abusive press conferences that follow matches. She said in a statement at the time, “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true when I see a press conference or partake in one...I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.” Osaka was fined heavily for skipping the press junkets, money that she suggested the tennis overlords donate to mental health organizations. Other actors, musicians, and athletes — such as Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Bill Murray, and others — also famously maintain their mystique alive by refusing interviews.
Suffice it to say that Hill is not alone in needing time away from the often soul-less realities of self-promotion. It’s also positive that he acknowledges his privilege in being able to do so, because many people would only dream of being able to make such a bold move while trying to release a project. Hopefully, Hill’s film can contribute to his goal of building a world that makes it more viable for people to advocate for their mental health on a regular basis.