He’s not yet a household name, but Jonah Hill is getting plenty of small screen face time in the weeks leading up to the release of the new teen comedy Accepted, courtesy chiefly of two clips — one in which, clad in a foam hot dog costume, he exhorts passersby to ask him about his wiener, and another in which he lets loose with an ear-piercing, high-pitched scream. The funny thing is, that scream isn’t really his.
Directed by Steve Pink, Accepted centers on an enterprising high school senior, Bartleby (Dodgeball‘s Justin Long), who, after getting rejected by every college he applies to, creates a fake university to serve as a post-graduation refuge for he and some friends. Hill plays Bartleby’s best friend, Sherman, who actually gets into a nearby school but helps his lifelong pal by designing said fictitious school’s Web site, among other things.
The set-up for the in-heavy-rotation scream occurs when Bartleby and his friends scout a condemned mental asylum to serve as the physical location for their mock university, and a skeleton falls from a ceiling panel, frightening Sherman. In an instinctual stroke of improvisational brilliance, Hill conspired with costar Maria Thayer. “When it came time for my close-up,” relates Hill, “I said to Maria, ‘Don’t tell anybody, but you scream and I’ll just mime it. But don’t say anything to anyone else, because it’ll be way funnier that way, if they’re not expecting it.’ So we did it and everyone around us kind of lost it. I totally didn’t expect them to put it in the movie, but they haven’t changed it. And it gets a huge laugh. That’s one of my most proud moments, because if you write or [come up with something on a movie like this] and it goes in, you feel like you really contributed toward making it a little funnier.”
Also co-starring comedian Lewis Black and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants‘ Blake Lively, Accepted now opens in theaters nationwide on August 18, after pushing a week. For more information, visit the movie’s Web site.