Jonah Hill says he is taking an indefinite break from promoting his upcoming films, citing mental health struggles.
In an open letter published in Deadline, the filmmaker said that he realized he needed to take a step back from public appearances while directing “Stutz,” a documentary about mental health issues and his own mental health journey.
“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,” he wrote.
The actor and “Mid90s” director expressed gratitude that his second feature would be premiering “at a prestigious film festival this fall,” and hope that it would resonate with audiences. But he doubled down on his commitment to refrain from participating in any press surrounding the release, calling it “an 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,” he added.
Hill announced in Nov. 2020 that he was partnering with Netflix and producer Joaquin Phoenix on a documentary about his therapist, Dr. Phil Stutz. “The idea is to make a film that frames therapy and Phil’s tools for dealing with life in a way that isn’t corny or cheesy,” he wrote on Instagram at the time. “If you can’t afford therapy or there is stigma in your family and life, the idea is that you can privately use these tools based on the feelings you are having (depression, anxiety, regret etc), and use them in the privacy of your own home on Netflix.”
Ahead of last year’s “Don’t Look Up,” the 38-year-old told GQ that Phoenix had introduced him to his therapist a few months before he began shooting “Mid90s.”
“He invented a set of visualization techniques that greatly changed my life,” Hill said of Dr. Stutz. “Netflix let me make a doc on therapy and Phil’s teachings, and then it became about Phil’s life, and then it became about how insane it is that I am making a movie about my therapist, and now it’s become…I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s become very collapsed on itself.”
In recent years, Hill has been vocal about his struggles with mental health and social media, calling Instagram “the biggest killer” and “the cigarettes of this time” in the same GQ profile. In 2021, he asked Instagram users to stop leaving comments about his body after the Daily Mail published photos of him surfing. In a separate post, he discussed how “public mockery” by the media had contributed to insecurities about his body. His Instagram account has since been deactivated.
Read Hill’s full letter below:
I have finished directing my second film, a documentary about me and my therapist which explores mental health in general called “Stutz.” The whole purpose of making this film is to give therapy and the tools I’ve learned in therapy to a wide audience for private use through an entertaining film.
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.
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. 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.
I hope the work will speak for itself and I’m grateful to my collaborators, my business partners and to all reading this for your understanding and support.