Newsflash: Jonah Hill is a controlling, emotionally abusive dick. As much as it breaks my heart to say this, it only took a couple of screenshots shared by the Superbad actor’s ex-girlfriend to confirm the sad reality that even nice guy Jonah is… well, not so nice. But looking back, we should have known that the behaviour displayed by the 39-year-old was too good to be true.
Before we delve into the specifics of Hill’s therapy-obsessed public persona, it’s important that we first clarify how the whole controversy began. Starting on Friday 7 July 2023, professional surf instructor Sarah Brady (who dated the star for about a year back in 2021), began sharing a series of Instagram stories detailing Hill’s alleged “emotionally abusive” behaviour by posting DMs and texts she claims were sent by him.
“Sharing this publicly now because keeping it to myself was causing more damage to my mental health than sharing it could ever do,” Brady wrote on the social media app. Among some of the screenshots posted publicly, one alleged conversation appears to show the actor scolding Brady for posting images of her surfing in a swimsuit. A gentle reminder that she’s a freaking surf instructor…
Outlining his “boundaries” for their relationship, Hill went on to ask Brady to remove said pictures from her Instagram account, which she actually did. In response, the actor said it was “a good start,” but added that she still doesn’t “seem to get it.”
“But it’s not my place to teach you. I’ve made my boundaries clear,” Hill continued, according to Brady’s post. “You refuse to let go of some of them and you’ve made that clear and I hope it makes you happy.”
If you think that’s bad, wait until you hear the other rules Hill listed for his then-partner. “Surfing with men,” modelling, posting pictures of herself “in a bathing suit,” and having friendships with “women who are in unstable places from your wild recent past beyond getting lunch of a coffee or something respectful,” aren’t allowed if you’re dating the 21 Jump Street star, apparently.
Brady also claims she and Hill were seeing a couple’s therapist who instructed her to “paddle away” from men while surfing and tell them: “I’m going to go talk to my boyfriend.” It’s safe to say that I personally wouldn’t recommend whoever it is that they consulted for advice.
As you can expect, as soon as Brady shared these private messages on Instagram, shit pretty much hit the fan for Hill, who was, until now, mostly known for his down-to-earth and anti-toxic masculinity behaviour.
The couple made their red carpet debut in December 2021 when they wore matching blue suits and loafers at the Don’t Look Up premiere. They reportedly split sometime in 2022, and Hill has since recently welcomed his first child with now-girlfriend Olivia Millar.
For quite some time now, the actor had been very candid about his personal struggles and how his journey with therapy has helped him throughout some of his life’s hardest moments. He was so pro-therapy in fact, that he eventually directed the Netflix documentary Stutz, which focuses on Phil Stutz, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist who has, as Hill puts it, “changed my life.”
Reversing the roles, Stutz saw Hill interview his psychotherapist while also diving into his own struggles with weight, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Released in 2022, the documentary did a great job of shedding light on the numerous benefits therapy can provide while also platforming Stutz’s unique visual model. I can’t say that, at the time, I didn’t feel moved and inspired by the message Hill worked so hard on getting across.
Unfortunately, the actor’s introduction to therapy is probably what led him to present this controlling behaviour with Brady as him setting his “boundaries”—a term often given by therapists to their clients to ensure that uncomfortable mentally damaging situations are avoided. In Hill’s case, just like many other abusers, he took this language and weaponised it as a defence for his harmful actions.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t insist enough on how important therapy is and how helpful it can be—trust me, I’ve got years of shrink-induced realisations to back up this claim. The issue we’re currently facing is how people, mostly men, are now using terms, models, and insights they’ve gained from therapy to justify controlling and abusive behaviours.
Manipulators like Hill can use the incredibly helpful tools presented to them through therapy, and turn them around to work in their favour, in turn giving them a new sense of superiority, and making them that much more dangerous and toxic.
As American comedian cleverly wrote on Twitter, “give a man some therapy, and you heal him for a day; teach a man therapy words and you feed his manipulation for a lifetime.”