Would Jonah Hill have been cast in a Martin Scorsese drama if he still possessed the physical stature that first brought him fame in a series of juvenile comedies? An Oscar nomination coincided with a dramatic loss of weight that transformed him from looking like Zach Galifianakis's younger brother into looking like k.d. lang's younger brother. Hill's appearance as a result of skinnification has apparently also lent him a gravitas that was lacking in his more rotund manifestation.
Scorsese has proffered Hill an opportunity to follow up his Oscar-nominated in turn in "Moneyball" with an even more darkly dramatic role in "The Wolf of Wall Street" as Danny Porush in a real life tale of Wall Street success and malfeasance. One wonders whether the more robustly physical version of Hill would have been given this opportunity even if that XXL façade had been on display in his Oscar-nominated performance in "Moneyball."
Scorsese is famous for taking a chance on actors you might not immediately think appropriate fodder for his legendary status as filmmaker. Shelley Hack, Jerry Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, and Mark Wahlberg all seem at first to be highly unlikely candidates for an actor with the nose for dramatic talent that sits prominently upon Scorsese's face.
In the end, all but Wahlberg delivered the goods. But none of those actors carried the taint of nearly a hundred years of the comedic stereotype of the fat jolly elf.
Could Fatty Arbuckle, Lou Costello, John Belushi, or Chris Farley have transformed from comic actor to dramatic actor without going the route Jonah Hill chose to take? The immediate result of Hill's substantial weight loss has been a physical appearance that not only makes him look less heavy but more androgynous.
Apparently, there is more natural dramatic acceptance inherent in the face of thin androgyny than there is as a bearded, overweight comedian. Jonah Hill circa 2012 is much slimmer than Jonah Hill circa 2008, and the inescapable argument is that such a change seems to carry with it the mandate for directors that a skinnier actor is inherently more dramatic than a chubby actor.
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