Jonah Hill is opening up about his long-time struggle with weight and body image. In an honest sit-down interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the 34-year-old actor said growing up in the spotlight left him vulnerable to criticisms about his body.
“I think everybody has a version of themselves ― I call it a snapshot ― at some point in life… [you’re] trying to hide from the world. Even if you get success or grow up or become good-looking or whatever … you kind of carry some part of that with you,” he told DeGeneres. “For me, it’s definitely being like this 14-year-old kid, being overweight, wanting to fit in with these skaters and hip-hop kids, and just feeling lonely and maybe not understanding my own worth.”
Hill spoke with DeGeneres about his new coming-of-age movie titled Mid90s, which he says reflects some of those personal adolescent struggles, including his fluctuating weight.
“I spent most of my young adult life listening to people say I was fat, gross, and unattractive,” he said. “And it’s only in the last four years writing and directing my movie, Mid90s, that I’ve started to understand how much that hurt and got into my head.”
When Jonah Hill decided to become a “responsible adult”
The comedian and actor has lost and gained weight many times during his career. One of his biggest body transformations came four years after Superbad was released, at the premiere of 2011’s Moneyball, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
At the time, Hill felt he needed “to be a responsible adult” and lead a healthier lifestyle, he told Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.
“When I met all of you, metaphorically, was like for Superbad, right,” he said. “I was like… a 22-year-old kid, so when I listen to interviews or anything from that time, you cringe because most people don’t have a snapshot from their most immature, idiotic time in their life… all my friends were in college so I was living like a frat guy like everyone drinking beer and eating pizza.”
His secret to weight loss
Hill lost the weight by correcting his unhealthy diet, he told ABC News at the time. “I wish there was some crazy thing that I did, like a pill or a genie or something, but I went to see a nutritionist, and he told me what to eat to change my habits and stuff.”
While Hill’s Superbad character, Seth, wasn’t exactly a jogging enthusiast, in real life the actor says running was a good way for him to ease into exercising. He told Kidd Kraddick that he “started physically running instead of emotionally running.”
He also told the radio show he began doing 10 push-ups a day and eventually worked his way up to doing 100 push-ups a day.
On his fluctuating weight
In 2016, he gained back the weight while filming War Dogs alongside Bradley Cooper and Miles Teller. Hill says he packed on the pounds for his role as Efraim Diveroli, the real-life former arms dealer whose company was a weapons contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense.
After the film was released that summer, he asked pal and 21 Jump Street costar Channing Tatum how best to shed the weight.
“I wanted to get in better shape, so I called Channing Tatum and said, ‘Hey, if I ate less and go to a trainer, will I get in better shape?'” Hill told Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on The Tonight Show in 2016. “[He said] ‘Yes, you dumb mother****er, of course you will.’ It’s the simplest thing in the entire world.”
Boxing is his go-to workout to stay in shape
In 2017, the actor was photographed at a gym in Manhattan. He was spotted jabbing, shadow boxing, and working with a trainer on a few combo moves. It’s unclear which gym Hill works out at, but the trainer working with him was sporting a sweatshirt from Gotham Gym located in New York City’s West Village.
The gym attracts many celebrities, including Justin Theroux, who works out there five days a week. (Theroux’s trainer told Men’s Health their sessions start with 40 minutes of boxing training and end with 20 minutes in the weight room working his abs, doing circuits, or deadlifting.)
Although Hill has touched on his workout routine, he isn’t exactly outspoken about it. In a Rolling Stone interview pegged to his 2013 film This Is the End, he told the reporter that he rides the elliptical every day. But when pressed for specifics on his workouts, he “stiffened” and said it was of “little relevance,” according to the magazine.
What Jonah Hill eats (and still drinks!)
Hill is more open about his diet. According to Bon Appétit, he’s a sushi aficionado. The Japanese dish can be healthy, depending on what you order — i.e., swapping the mayo and tempura for lots of veggies and omega-3-rich fishes, like salmon and tuna.
His Achilles’ heel?
“I still drink beer,” he told the Kyle and Jackie O radio show, according to Digital Spy. He acknowledged that big changes happen when he stops drinking. “It’s so annoying,” he said. “Because if I don’t drink beer, I get really thin, and then when I drink beer, I get a little bigger.”
Coming into his own
Hill says it was only recently that he was able to accept himself. When he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he read a piece he wrote for Inner Children, a free magazine focused on self-love, released in conjunction with the premiere of Mid90s that featured interviews with Eddie Falco, Michael Cera, and Behati Prinsloo.
“What I found amazing about [the magazine] is it was really a companion piece to writing and directing Mid90s because, to me, this movie is about learning to love yourself and finding a community of people that accepts you and how imperfect life is,” Hill says. “It took a long time, honestly until right now, for me to come out as sort of the person, the artist, mind, what I represent, how I feel, how I’d like to be spoken to, how I speak to the world in a way that actually represents who I am as a person as opposed to me trying to be something else that I’m not.”