Jonah Hill, star of Get Me to the Greek and Cyrus, opens up in the current issue of Rolling Stone , revealing his childhood traumas and burning ambition. In this excerpt from Associate Editor Brian Hiatt’s feature, Hill reveals — for the first time — the origin of the mysterious scar on his right arm.
There’s an old, angry scar on Hill’s right arm that spiders past his elbow — too big and deep to hide. It looks like his arm was torn in half and then pulled back together, which is more or less what happened. “This is one of the biggest things ever in my life,” says Hill.
When Hill was in middle school, his mom was battling cancer. Convinced that she was going to die, he started acting out (she’s since made a full recovery). He took up skateboarding, started smoking weed. His grades were bad. “I was, like, not a good kid,” he says.
Hill was 15 when it all came to a head. He and a friend snuck out one night in an SUV. Hill stuck his elbow out the open window as they headed into the night, and his friend started turning the wheel back and forth, joking around. The car flipped over, skidded along the road and dragged Hill’s arm with it.
Hill woke up in the hospital, and he heard two doctors discussing whether or not to amputate his arm. At the same time, he saw his dad and ailing mom crying. “I said to myself, ‘I’ll never let them down ever again.’ I said, ‘I’m going to be fuckin’ successful. I’m going to resurrect what I put these people through by being a little asshole.’ So I look at this scar every day. That reminds me to work hard.”
Hill also has other, less-visible scars. “Every teacher I ever had told me I was never going to be anything,” he recalls.
This article originally appeared in RS 1107 from June 24, 2010. The complete story and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via All Access, Rolling Stone’s premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about All Access.