Written and directed by Hill, “Mid90s” follows Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic), a Los Angeles tween being raised by his single mom (Katherine Waterston) and physically abusive older brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges). He finds solace in a group of older skateboarders, learning some valuable, if occasionally troubling, life lessons along the way.
The “Superbad” and “Moneyball” actor told DeGeneres the movie is a nod to his own teenage years, during which he immersed himself in LA’s skater culture.
“I think everybody has a version of themselves ― I call it a snapshot ― at some point in [their] life of the person [they’re] trying to hide from the world. Even if you get success or grow up or become good-looking or whatever … you kind of carry some part of that with you. For me, it’s definitely being like this 14-year-old kid, being overweight, wanting to fit in with these skaters and hip-hop kids, and just feeling lonely and maybe not understanding my own worth.”
“Mid90s,” which hits theaters on Friday, coincides with the release of Hill’s new, self-published magazine, Inner Children. The magazine features interviews with stars like Edie Falco, Michael Cera and Q-Tip, as well as Hill’s sister, “Lady Bird” star Beanie Feldstein, all of whom reveal some of their early struggles.
“It took a long time ― honestly, until right now ― for me to come out as the person, artist, mind, what I represent, how I feel, how I’d like to be spoken to, how I speak to the world,” Hill said, “in a way that actually represents who I am as a person as opposed to me trying to be something else that I’m not.”
Early reviews of “Mid90s” have pointed out that the film doesn’t shy away from the more problematic elements of ’90s skater culture, including misogyny and homophobia.
Hill told DeGeneres that depicting that toxic masculinity was very much intentional.
“It’s been really interesting to hold a mirror up to a lot of the things we learned in generations past that we’re now dealing with and facing,” he said.
Watch the full clip of Hill’s appearance on Ellen below.