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It’s all Greek to Hill

Outside the Lucques Restaurant on Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, Jonah Hill seems to be a little on edge. As he paces up and down with his mobile phone pressed to his ear, in an attempt to keep out the LA traffic, his face flits between stressed and tired.

The fact that this food-loving comic is pacing outside the restaurant when there's a free buffet put on by DreamWorks inside would suggest that Jonah Hill may just be struggling with some delayed gratification.

"Nah, I'm just having one of those days," the 26-year-old funny man says when he finally takes a seat inside. "Got quite a few projects on the go, and some days -- like today -- you get a wobbly plate happening with more than one of them.

"Don't worry though -- I was keeping an eye on the buffet through the window."

Jonah Hill certainly does have quite a few projects on the go. Having already released How To Train Your Dragon earlier this year, Hill has the critically acclaimed Cyrus heading our way in September, along with another animated feature, Megamind (due in December), and an episode of The Simpsons ("A dream come true").

Right now, though, Hill's got Get Him To The Greek, a spin-off from 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with Russell Brand back as the rapscallion rocker and our boy promoted from Walter the waiter in the earlier movie to Aaron the gofer. What Aaron has to go for is Brand's Aldous Snow, as he plays a hapless record company executive who has to get the fading rocker from London to the Los Angeles Greek Theatre via the Today show in New York.

Director Nick Stoller (who also helmed Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has fun mixing Almost Famous with My Favourite Year, while Brand and Hill make for a fine comic double act.

PAUL BYRNE: Were you surprised when Nick Stoller and Judd Apatow told you they were going to do a sequel-of-sorts to Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- only without Sarah Marshall, or the rest of the original cast?

JONAH HILL: It did seem like a crazy idea, but then you look at Frasier, or Rhoda, or, eh, Elektra, and you know that, sometimes, taking a supporting character and giving them their story makes perfect sense. Aldous Snow is just one of those characters that you would want to follow beyond the original story, to see what sort of shenanigans he might get up to.

PB: Given that your older brother, Jordan, manages the likes of Maroon 5 and Collective Soul, I'm guessing the rock'n'roll lifestyle wasn't something you had to research too deeply.

JH: I'm not sure if any of those bands would be in the same league as Aldous when it comes to partying. Or maybe they're just so good at it, no one ever finds out. But yeah, I had an idea of what might go on in that world. We all imagine what the Stones must have been like in the 1960s and 1970s, how Iggy Pop lived his life off the stage for so many years. It's fascinating because most of us just wouldn't have the heart, the stomach or the liver for it. We need people like that, though, who are willing to burn the candle from both ends.

PB: And then probably smoke the candle, too. Such rock'n'roll lifestyles aren't limited to rock'n'rollers though -- movie stars have been known to act a little crazy, too. Speaking of which, how has Jonah Hill been coping with fame ever since Superbad made you a star?

JH: I've been coping just fine, thank you for asking. It's been fun, but I don't see myself as the Iggy Pop type. I'm more of a Barry White really. I like to take things slow, have some fun and perhaps just joke about all the wild things that we could be doing, rather than actually doing them. I think I'm already a little too old to go truly crazy.

PB: One of your early breaks was being introduced to Dustin Hoffman by two of his kids, Rebecca and Jake, who you were hanging out with at the time. Dustin got you a part in I Heart Huckabees, your film debut. That's only six years ago. Did you imagine then that you'd be this successful so quickly?

JH: I'm still pinching myself, because, you know, I've never looked like your typical leading man. The most I could hope for back then was to play the role of the guy who gets hit in the head by the ball, or the one whose swimming trunks squeak off after a dive into the pool. I really didn't think I'd get the chance to be on the poster. I really want to make the most of every opportunity, because you never know how long this kind of success will last. It would be great to get some of my own scripts up there on screen, and just have a body of work that I can happily brag about as I lay by my dilapidated pool during my long, slow burn into my twilight years.

PB: You've got about 10 scripts on the boil, if the internet is to be believed, but the most intriguing -- if not downright bonkers -- is a big-screen adaptation of 21 Jump Street, the 1980s TV show that made the young Johnny Depp a reluctant pin-up. Are you on medication?

JH: You know, that's pretty much been the reaction I've been getting everywhere I go [laughs]. I think it's going to be amazing, but the internet is alive with the sound of people shouting down the idea. I'm not out to make a spoof of the show; I really like the idea of this action comedy about undercover cops in high school.

PB: Apparently, you've written a cameo for Depp, too -- even though he famously walked away from the show.

JH: Yeah, I hope Johnny can see what we're trying to do here, and join in on the fun. I've been in touch with his agent, but I haven't actually spoken with the great man himself, so, who knows? The guy's got a good sense of humour, and he's pretty happy with his lot in life these days, so, I don't think it would trouble him too much to revisit his humble beginnings.

Get Him To The Greek opens in Irish cinemas June 25


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