"This is the proudest year of my career so far, to have ‘Get Him to the Greek' and ‘Cyrus' come out a month apart from each other," says 26-year-old Jonah Hill in a swanky hotel restaurant, over a stiff glass of ice-cold water. "I feel very lucky."
In "Greek" (opening June 4), written and directed by " Forgetting Sarah Marshall" helmer Nicholas Stoller, Hill is dispatched by his music-mogul boss ( Sean Combs) to escort a notoriously libertine rock star ( Russell Brand, reprising his "Marshall" role of Aldous Snow) through a series of binges from London to Los Angeles. It's not so much a sequel as a cockeyed spinoff, in the smart-but-rude vein of the Judd Apatow stable. Hill doesn't play his "Marshall" character, but a "less creepy" fan of Snow's.
"Nick claims he had the idea after the table read [for ‘Marshall'], that he wanted to do a film with Russell and me because of our bizarre chemistry," he says.
"Greek" features original, eminently singable rock ‘n' roll tunes — albeit tough to belt out with a straight face if one listens to the lyrics. The film showcases Brand's credible rock voice, as well as more of what the British tabloid darling can do as an actor.
"He's functioning at a very high level of intelligence, seriously. He's a pretty interesting guy," says Hill. "Besides the fact that I'm in movies, my life is not exciting or a rollercoaster. So it's fun for me to be around Russell or Sean; these are larger-than-life personalities who live the famous-guy lifestyle."
"John and Marisa and Catherine Keener are three of my favorite actors — I'd just sit there and say, ‘Cool, I'm in a movie with them!' " says the professed fan of mumblecore-style filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass. He says he "stalked" them to persuade them to work with him. After he praised their heralded indie "The Puffy Chair" in a New York Times interview promoting "Superbad," they called to thank him.
"I said, ‘Well, now it's time to pay up.' So they wrote the script ‘Cyrus' and asked me if I wanted to do it and I said, ‘I don't even have to read it; I believe in you guys.' And it was one of the most beautiful, honest, funny scripts I've ever read.
"To me, it's about three broken people.… What would you do to hold on to what you love most in the world? It's a very hard movie to describe — I think Mark and Jay have established a new tone I've never seen before."