'Maniac' reunites Emma Stone and Jonah Hill: Chronicling the pair's incredible journeys since their debut together in 'Superbad'
'Superbad' was the movie that launched the careers of both Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. Now, 11 years since its release, the pair reunite for Netflix's 'Maniac'
Netflix's black comedy 'Maniac', is set to premiere on the streaming network this coming September 21 and is based on the Norwegian television series of the same name by Hakon Bast Mossige and Espen PA Lervaag. The latter followed a man in his 30s who's living a wonderful life, with every day being a party but with the caveat that this life existed only in his dreams. In reality, he's a patient in a mental institution who uses his vivid imagination to concoct game-winning touchdowns and battles with Hitler and zombies.
The upcoming reimagination of the show will see Cary Joji Fukunaga take over the reins to tell the story, with the likes of Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, and Justin Theroux starring. The trailer does not promise to hold back, and with Fukunaga at the helm, audiences can expect their fair share of gut-wrenching twists and turns; after all, this is the same Fukunaga who was responsible for a stellar first season of 'True Detective' — that won him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series — as well as 2015 war drama 'Beasts of No Nation.'
The theme, unsurprisingly, remains as dark as ever. Hill's Owen Milgrim is the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists and has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia; Stone's Annie Landsberg is disaffected and aimless, endlessly fixating on her imperfect relationships with her mother and sister. Both find themselves drawn to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial designed by Theroux's Dr. James K. Mantleray in the promise that the treatment will cure them of their ailments.
But what arguably stood out the most in the trailer was a subplot that hinted at a romantic angle between Owen and Annie. The trailer pointed towards their stories being inherently interconnected, with each inevitably finding the other as they plummet through multiple different realities in their head.
"Maybe these two have a cosmic connection," muses Sally Field's Dr. Greta Mantleray in the series' new teaser quite aptly titled 'Connection,' and one can't help shake the feeling that they do. And I don't mean just the characters, I mean the actors themselves. Having first made their debut together in 2007's 'Superbad,' the pair now find themselves occupying the upper echelons of Hollywood as they reunite once again on the small screen.
While both are now well-established A-listers, it was 'Superbad' that provided them with the platform to launch their careers in the industry. Before the movie, Jonah had had minor roles in other comedies such as 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin', 'Grandma's Boy', 'Accepted', and 'Click'. Emma, on the other hand, had struggled through far worse for roles. She made her debut in VH1 talent competition reality show 'In Search of the New Patridge Family' in 2004, but the resulting show, 'The New Patridge Family' would remain an unsold pilot. She then had a guest appearance in HBO's 'Lucky Louie', and failed in her audition to star as Claire Bennet in NBC science fiction drama 'Heroes', calling it her 'rock bottom experience'. But it would get worse before it got better, with the actress' Fox action drama 'Drive' getting the ax after just seven episodes.
As it turns out, 'Superbad' came along at just the right time. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the development for the script began when the pair were just 13-years-old and is loosely based on their experiences in the 12th grade in Vancouver in the 1990s — the main characters of the film, played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, kept the names of the writers, Seth and Evan. It was Jonah's first leading role, with the actor lucking out in his casting; Rogen had initially intended to portray namesake Seth, but decided against it because of age and physical size and took up the role of the irresponsible Officer Michaels instead. The movie, similarly marked, a milestone for Emma as well, with her role as Jonah's love interest Jules being her feature film debut.
Her chemistry with Jonah was awkwardly endearing and earned her a Young Hollywood Award for 'Exciting New Face,' though that would be the last we would see the two together until their most recent reunion in 'Maniac'. Eleven years after 'Superbad' hit the theaters, the pair will try to recreate the magic that made the comedy a massive commercial and critical success. But a lot has changed in the intervening decade. They are no longer the fresh-faced upstarts looking to make their mark and are accompanied by an enviable gravitas that only a few other celebrities can command; thanks to a CV of feature films that have gone to win some of the industry's most prestigious honors.
After his breakthrough in 'Superbad,' Jonah possibly made one of the few moves in his career he possibly regrets: he turned down a role as one of the three principle comedic actors in arguably the biggest comedy franchise of the century in 'The Hangover' so he could work with Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass on the now little-known 'Cyrus.' A few other missteps came in the form of 'Funny People' — which failed to even gross its budget — and 'Allen Gregory,' an adult animated series he created alongside Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul. Along with these failures came a vocal minority that questioned Jonah's acting acumen: Could he pull off a non-comedic role, they asked?
The answer was a resounding yes. A first-ever dramatic role as Peter Brand in 2011 film 'Moneyball' earned the actor a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Furthermore, the same portrayal would later earn him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor as well. He would follow that up by embracing his comedic genius once again, co-starring alongside Channing Tatum in popular buddy cop action comedy films '21 Jump Street' and '22 Jump Street,' as well as delivering a stellar performance as sleazy arms dealer Efraim Diveroli in 'War Dogs.' It probably didn't hurt that his incredible performance as Donnie Azoff in Martin Scorcese's 'Wolf of Wall Street' earned him his second Oscar nomination either, cementing an already burgeoning reputation.
Co-star Emma has had an even more impressive career trajectory. The 29-year-old also had a minor slump after 'Superbad,' with her portrayal of "straight-faced bass guitarist" Amelia Stone in 'The Rocker' receiving negative reviews. Her next, 'The House Bunny,' fared slightly better, but it was with horror comedy 'Zombieland' that she well and truly established herself on the scene. An excellent performance in Will Gluck's 'Easy A' earned her the adoration of millions, and similar to Jonah she went on to host an episode of 'Saturday Night Live.' And like Jonah, she felt she was getting typecast into a certain type of role: that of the "sarcastic interest of the guy."
Fed up, she co-starred with Viola Davis in Tate Taylor's 2011 period drama 'The Help,' which would go on to gross $216 million against a budget of $25 and become her most commercially successful film to date. But that would only be the beginning. Further commercial success with the rebooted Spider-Man franchise was followed by a starring role in the critically-acclaimed black comedy-drama 'Birdman,' which was nominated in nine categories at the 87th Academy Awards. Emma wouldn't win any awards, despite being nominated for several, but she wouldn't be kept waiting much longer. 2016 saw her join up with Damien Chazelle for musical comedy-drama 'La La Land,' which went on to become an unprecedented success. Featuring alongside Ryan Gosling for the third time, Emma's performance was lauded by critics and audiences alike and won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Now, both of them have come full circle, finding themselves reunited after journeys that have put their talent, versatility, and ingenuity to the test. They are now veterans who have touched the pinnacle of Hollywood but, at the same time, also boast the scars of failure which have hardened them against the many pitfalls of the industry. In the prime of their careers, they still have a lot left to give, and fans will hope that 'Maniac' marks just the first of many future collaborations.
Watch the trailer for 'Maniac' here: