Interview: Jonah Hill Embraces His Inner Scumbag In ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’
Interview: Jonah Hill Embraces His Inner Scumbag In ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

Interview: Jonah Hill Embraces His Inner Scumbag In ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

Jonah Hill calls it his most challenging role to date. Indeed, when you are playing a perverted pill-popping, money laundering degenerate in Martin Scorsese’s latest irreverent big screen work The Wolf of Wall Street such a statement is no mere hyperbole. For the Oscar-nominated Hill, his true challenge was finding any source of redeeming quality from his over-the-top character Donnie Azoff, who rides shotgun with Leo DiCaprio’s equally outrageous, real life Wall Street pirate Jordan Belfort. VIBE caught up with the busy actor to discuss his experience working with legendary director Scorsese, how he pushed himself to embrace the brazenly amoral Azoff, and why Quaaludes is a hell of a drug.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

VIBE: For every actor worth his or her thespian chops working with Martin Scorsese is one of those banner career achievements. What went through your mind when you found out you were going to be in your first Scorsese film?

You have to understand that Scorsese is my hero…my actual, creative hero. No one compares to him in my mind. When I found out they were even interested in meeting with me and possibly getting the part I was like this is a dream…I can’t believe this is real. I didn’t believe that I was actually going to get it.

But there had to be some level of confidence considering you were nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for 2011’s Money Ball, right?

Yeah, but this is different. Scorsese is my hero, and then to play this part opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in a Scorsese movie? That’s stuff you can’t even allow yourself to ever think is a reality because it’s usually not. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The whole thing was like a dream.

Like most of the characters in The Wolf of Wall Street Donnie Azoff is a pretty despicable person. What shocked you most about Donnie and was there anything in the script that made you say, “Holy shit, you want me to do what???”

I’ve played flawed characters before, but at the end of the day I thought they all had a good heart. And this is the first time I played someone who I didn’t think had a good heart and wasn’t a good person. And that was challenging to do because Donnie didn’t treat people right. He treated people horribly. I would feel fine during the day because I was so focused on the scene, but on the drive home every night I would feel really guilty about what I had to do that day.

And one of those scenes that everyone is talking about is of you and Leo taking an obscene amount of Quaaludes, which leads to some hilarious yet disturbing acts. Can you talk about how crazy it was to film that scene?

It was really physical and really exhausting. And because we were on these really strong Quaaludes, we had a drug expert and I would ask a lot of questions about what the drug felt like. The way she expressed it about being on that many Quaaludes is that your finger feels like it weighs 10 pounds. So I imagined that there was a tiny version of myself actually in my body having to move around dead weight. So it was physically exhausting; it took a week to shoot. And Leo beat the crap out of me. I can tell you that I have never been so proud of a performance in a movie.

That’s an understatement. When Leo was beating you on your chest to bring you back to consciousness were you thinking, “Okay, anything for the scene?”

Yeah…I was down for anything. I left everything on the floor.

During an interview Scorsese really made it a point to say that the only difference between a street gangster like Goodfellas’ Henry Hill and a Wall Street crook like Jordan Belfort is that Jordan’s criminal behavior looked a lot more respectable because he thrived within the corruption of the financial world. Do you share that view?

I look at Henry Hill and the characters in Goodfellas and I see people that were at least up front about what they were doing. They were putting a gun in someone’s face and stealing a truck. I think what’s less respectful is what Donnie and Jordan did, which is selling people a dream and selling them something that’s not real that you know is going to hurt them. They’re both not right, but one is even more gross.

Even though The Wolf of Wall Street is being billed as a comedy, there is some cringe-worthy shit going on, right?

Right. But Martin Scorsese also called Goodfellas as comedy [laughs]. And it is…it’s the funniest movie ever made. I truly believe that. There’s ugly stuff happening, but it is funny because it’s so outlandish and casual. People are doing these horrible things so casually and that’s what’s funny about Wolf of Wall Street. If you were to call this a comedy I would definitely say it’s the darkest comedy of all time. The things you are laughing it are despicable.

I mean you guys are playing a game of midget tossing, which actually happened in real life, right?

Yeah. That really happened. It’s actually from Jordan’s book.

Do you think after all the financial scandals and our last global economic meltdown that Wall Street has learned anything?

I don’t know. The Wall Street guys we shadowed and met with they let us in their lives and on the surface seemed like respectable people. For me, it’s about my love for making movies. That’s what I wanted to dedicate my life to. And if you make money as a bi-product of that then that’s incredible and you are lucky. If I wasn’t making money off of this I would still be passionate about it. But Wall Street inherently is you are doing this job to become excessively wealthy. And anytime you are doing something just to become excessively wealthy I think things get corrupted a little bit. You want to win at all cost. That’s a quality that we all share and hopefully can limit. But Donnie is 100 percent that quality [laughs].

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Genres Aside, Here Are Our 25 Favorite Songs Of 2018

Keeping up with all of the music from 2018 was a full-time job, with loads of songs releasing every week and not enough ears to keep track. But the volume of music comes with an advantage: there’s something for everybody. Fittingly, our list of the 25 Best Songs of 2018 represents the multi-genre mayhem that is in everyone’s playlists this year.

Some of the entries on our list, like cuts by Drake, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, were at the forefront of the conversation in 2018, dominating streaming services and radio around the country. Indie darling Saba made waves, and he’s included here as well. Jazz wizard Kamasi Washington dropped some of the best protest music of the year. But there are also some songs on this year’s list that spoke to the VIBE Tribe in a different way. Cardi B had hits all year, but an album cut impressed us most; Usher and Zaytoven’s new album didn’t make a huge splash commercially, but one of its songs appears here. And Beyonce appears on one of the best songs of the year that never even saw an official release–but that didn’t stop us from including it here.

Music broke the rules this year, and so did we. Read below, and tell us what surprise choices are making your songs of the year list.

READ MORE: Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

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A look back at the collaborator's up and down relationship.
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Remember The Time: 10 Times Drake And Kanye West Were Stronger Together

Kanye West and Drake aren’t exactly in the best place at the moment. West’s Dec. 13 Twitter rant detailed their issues, in which he accuses Drake of “sneak dissing” and threatening him.

“You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking about how’s the family.” he wrote among many other tweets and allegations against the Scorpion MC.

While this is a bump in the road, the two haven’t always been enemies. Despite the shenanigans surrounding them, Kanye West and Drake have had a very fruitful relationship. All drama aside, the duo have created many memorable moments in hip-hop and pop culture. They’ve written and recorded some incredible songs and shared countless stages during concerts and tours.

To abstain from dwelling on the negativity, VIBE has collected a list of moments taking you through the high points in the rappers’ relationship. Check it out below.

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Drake's Freestyles Over Many Beats By 'Ye

Before he was one of the most sought-after rappers in the world, Drizzy has looked up to Kanye West and sampled his work. For “Say What’s Real,” a single off his mixtape So Far Gone, the “In My Feelings” MC sampled Yeezy’s “Say You Will” off of his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. The admiration continued throughout the years, resulting in more freestyles over songs like “Swagga Like Us” and “Barry Bonds.” Both tracks feature beats created by the Chi-town native. 

‘Thank Me Later’ Proves Their Shared Power 

After meeting in 2009, the duo came together to bring Drake's Thank Me Later album to the next level. They collaborated on two tracks- the futuristic love songs “Show Me A Good Time,” and “Find Your Love.” With West holding down production, deep-pocketed 808’s and table-top scratch sounds were highlighted. The accolades for the latter song resulted in the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as they created their own lane.

Drake Calls Kanye “The Most Influential Person”

In a 2009 interview, the then-industry rookie had some nice words for West. Speaking specifically about the 41-year-old’s 808’s and Heartbreak album, the Toronto rapper described ‘Ye as "the most influential person” who was important to young emcees in the game.

"Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes," Drake said. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most influential person as far as a musician that I'd ever had in my life."

Their Collaborations On Wax 

The pair has been making music together for nearly 10 years, with some standout tracks including “Forever,” the remix to “All Of The Lights,” and “Pop Style.” On their 2017 song “Glow” off of Drake’s playlist More Life, both rappers discuss their growing, limitless success. West was rumored to initially appear on Drizzy’s smash-hit “Nice For What.” He reportedly had a verse on the critically-acclaimed track until the beef between Drake and his G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha T became lethal.

The Joint Mixtape That Never Happened

Drake and Kanye are no strangers when it comes to making joint albums with other artists. Drake worked with Future on the platinum-selling album What A Time To Be Alive, while Kanye released Watch The Throne with JAY-Z to critical acclaim. However, it has been hinted for the longest time that the two were working on a full-length album of their own.

Kanye confirmed the plan to release an album with Drake to Vogue in 2016, shortly after hinting at a joint project during OVO Fest. The Take Care rapper co-signed the announcement, saying "What my brother was asking before was, are you ready if we make an album?"

Drake Writing For Kanye’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’

Drake wrote a song for Kanye’s 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo. The Canadian hip-hop star helped pen the Isaac Hayes and Nelly-sampled “30 Hours.” Drizzy was also reportedly on the original, unreleased version of Pablo’s “Wolves,” which featured Icelandic artist Bjork (the album version features Vic Mensa and Sia).

The Duo Become Friendly, Competitive Neighbors

By the time of their initial meeting in 2009, Kanye already clocked in nearly a decade of music industry knowledge, and Drake was making the transition from teen TV star to full-time rapper. But who would have thought the duo would have eventually become actual neighbors?

Drake eventually moved to Calabasas, Calif.- a neighborhood in Los Angeles many celebrities call home- around the same time West began publicly dating his now-wife, Kim Kardashian. In the 2016 bop “Summer Sixteen,” Drizzy jokes, “Now I got a house in LA, now I got a bigger pool than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I’m saying.”

 

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There goes the neighborhood

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Nov 7, 2016 at 3:05am PST

Kanye Supports OVO Fest

Drake created a hip-hop festival called OVO Fest in 2010. Not only does it feature notable acts in urban music, but it also gave a platform to upcoming artists from Canada who might not have gotten a platform back home. Kanye West was one of the first supports of the music event, performing at three of the festivals.

He also admitted that Drake inspired him and JAY-Z to record Watch The Throne during 2013’s OVO Fest, stating, "Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this ni**a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects.”

Kanye Apologizes To Drake Over G.O.O.D. Music Album Rollouts

Earlier this fall, Kanye West apologized to Drake in a series of tweets for planning the rollout of albums by artists under his G.O.O.D music roster around the proposed release of Scorpion.

In one of the tweets, Kanye wrote “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.” In another tweet, ‘Ye revealed that he never listened to the diss tracks between him and Pusha, and didn’t have conversations regarding Drake’s child with him.

Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place … We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.

— ye (@kanyewest) September 5, 2018

They Shared Laughs Over Meek Mill Memes

Drake and Meek Mill were in an infamous feud back in 2015. After performing his diss track aimed at Meek- "Back to Back”- at the 2015 OVO Fest, Drizzy, Kanye, and Will Smith enjoyed a laugh over the countless memes mocking the Philly MC.

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Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

What a year 2018 has been for music lovers.

Listeners enjoyed a buffet of diverse melodies, savoring in the choice of curating the tunes they craved as opposed to consuming more than they can digest. Rumored albums from veterans like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and The Carters' first joint project battled its way to the top of our personal charts alongside music's innovators like Noname, The Internet, Buddy, and Janelle Monae.

Within that aforementioned list of artists, a new generation of lyricists and vocalists found their footing with fans and critics alike. The rising crop of talent released projects that should motivate each of them to carve out space for forthcoming awards. While we took into account the albums released from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 20, 2018, that moved us emotionally, we also checked off a list of requirements like replay value, overall production, critical reception, and cultural impact.

Here are the 30 albums (in alphabetical order, not ranked), that instilled pride in our culture, made us take a look within, and encouraged us to appreciate music all over again.

READ MORE: 25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

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