Jonah Hill’s directorial debut explores skate culture | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut explores skate culture

Skateboarding has been around for a long time, and most people know the stereotypes associated with them: the ballcaps, surfer dude slang, ripped jeans. As you might imagine, this isn’t what skating is really like, as the stars of “Mid90s” discussed.

“No movies have managed to authentically capture skating culture,” Sunny Suljic, who plays main character Stevie in Jonah Hill’s writing and directing debut about a 13-year-old growing up in L.A., said to The Triangle. “If you want to make a film about skate culture, you have to know what you’re doing, because people tend to over exaggerate how skaters act.”

The cast sang the praises of Hill; Olan Prenatt, who plays F—s—, says that because Hill grew up in skating culture when he was younger, he’s able to more accurately depict what it’s like on screen.

“I’m appreciative of Jonah Hill and ‘Mid90s’ because it shows skateboarding without making Hollywood changes,” Prenatt said.

Out of the four main cast, only Suljic has had prior acting experience; previous roles include “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” The young actor felt his role in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” helped him in this role.

“In [‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’], my legs don’t work for a lot of it, and in this one I can’t skate very well. There’s a lot of physicality involved,” he said.

For the others — Prenatt, Na-Kel Smith and Ryder McLaughlin — this is their first role in a feature film; all of them have been skating since they were young. All spoke highly of Hill’s directing.

“Jonah is a great actor, and he can explain things really well from an actor’s standpoint,” Suljic said. Smith noted that the wardrobe also helped them get into character, and the attention to detail helped sell their performances on camera. None of the actors, who all grew up outside the era of the film, had difficulties adjusting to the period.

“The hardest thing for me was the slang,” Prenatt said. “I used to never say ‘dope,’ but now I say it all the time … it’s my little souvenir from the movie.”

“Mid90s” opens later this month at the Landmark Ritz Five, but it has already been released in several other cities. Reviews have been positive, complementing it as yet another strong entry into the canon of coming-of-age films. It will be fascinating to see if Hill, who became famous for his work in comedies before branching to serious films like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” will transition into writing and directing full time, as well as the material he will tackle in the future.