While making the Netflix film — titled Stutz after his personal therapist Dr. Phil Stutz — Hill came to understand that he has spent “nearly 20 years experiencing anxiety attacks, which are exacerbated by media appearances and public facing events.” As such, he plans to step back from promoting the doc “or any of my upcoming films while I take this important step to protect myself.”
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The actor-director announced the decision in a lengthy statement first reported by Deadline, and the reveal comes ahead of the documentary’s fall festival debut, though Hill does not specify which fest, only referring to it as “prestigious.” The doc marks his second feature directorial effort after 2018’s Mid90s. More recently, Hill directed an episode of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty for HBO.
Hill, who also has a Netflix film titled You People set for release later this year from a script he co-wrote with Kenya Barris, last made the publicity and promo rounds late last year ahead of the debut of Adam McKay’s starry Don’t Look Up, also for Netflix. His retreat from the public eye also includes his Instagram, which appears to have been deleted.
“I usually cringe at letters or statements like this but I understand that I am of the privileged few who can afford to take time off,” said Hill. “I won’t lose my job while working on my anxiety. With this letter and with Stutz, I’m hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff. So they can take steps towards feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their issues more clearly.”
In a 2021 story for GQ penned by McKay, Hill name-checked Stutz many times, opening up on how he started seeing his therapist in 2017 at the suggestion of Joaquin Phoenix, his friend and co-star in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.
“He invented a set of visualization techniques that greatly changed my life. Netflix let me make a doc on therapy and Phil’s teachings, and then it became about Phil’s life, and then it became about how insane it is that I am making a movie about my therapist, and now it’s become…I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s become very collapsed on itself,” Hill told McKay, who revealed that he used to see Stutz’s partner, Barry Michels. “The person that I vent to while I’m making a film, I now can’t vent to, because the film is about him, and I can’t let him know it maybe isn’t going to work.”
It’s not fair to say that mental health has become a popular topic in Hollywood as it’s more realistic to say that it’s an ever-present conversation happening across the cultural landscape and in many industries. Hill is just the latest high-profile individuals to address the topic and his own struggles, joining a list that includes gymnast Simone Biles, entertainer Lady Gaga and blockbuster star Tom Holland (who just announced a break from social media to protect his mental health).
Read his full statement below.
I have finished directing my second film, a documentary about me and my therapist which explores mental health in general, called Stutz. The whole purpose of making this film is to give therapy and the tools I’ve learned in therapy to a wide audience for private use through an entertaining film.
Through this journey of self-discovery within the film, I have come to the understanding that I have spent nearly 20 years experiencing anxiety attacks, which are exacerbated by media appearances and public facing events.
I am so grateful that the film will make its world premiere at a prestigious film festival this fall, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences around the world in the hope that it will help those struggling. However, you won’t see me out there promoting this film, or any of my upcoming films, while I take this important step to protect myself. If I made myself sicker by going out there and promoting it, I wouldn’t be acting true to myself or to the film.
I usually cringe at letters or statements like this but I understand that I am of the privileged few who can afford to take time off. I won’t lose my job while working on my anxiety. With this letter and with Stutz, I’m hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff. So they can take steps towards feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their issues more clearly.
I hope the work will speak for itself and I’m grateful to my collaborators, my business partners and to all reading this for your understanding and support.
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