On Judd Apatow's revenge campaign and why Muppets are good for humanity.
by Jason Segel
With The Muppets coming out on Wednesday, we asked star and writer Jason Segel to sit down with us and give us a blow-by-blow of some of his biggest and best roles to date. Sadly, we didn't make it to SLC Punk.
1. Nick in Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000):
Freaks and Geeks, to this day, might be the thing that I'm most proud of. It was so weird and before its time. To do a show like that when you're eighteen-years old — you're so naive, you assume it's all going to be like that. But nothing has ever come close to how special that show was. When you think about the fact that it was most of our first jobs, and it was me and Seth Rogen, and James Franco, and Linda Cardellini, and Judd Apatow — we were all so young and so naive, and we all went on to do really well. I look back at those times and think, "Boy, if we knew what was going to happen back then, we wouldn't have believed it."
2. Eric in Undeclared (2001-2002):
That show was the tipping point for when Judd became Judd. It was really good, and they canceled it the same way they'd canceled Freaks and Geeks, so that was the moment when Judd was like, "All right, watch this: I'm single-handedly going to make all these people movie stars. You think you're so smart, network? Watch what I'm about to do." And from that show being canceled, Judd went on a Count of Monte Cristo-style revenge mission to make every one of us famous. It's not even that we're that talented — it's that Judd wanted to give everyone the finger.
3. Marshall in How I Met Your Mother (2005-):
How I Met Your Mother came along and sort of revitalized me. I was sort of doing bit parts and was kind of unemployed for about three or four years, and then How I Met Your Mother came along and if nothing else, made me feel like I was worthy again.
4. Jason in Knocked Up (2007):
Judd literally made it a competition. A lot of those scenes were improv, so at one point, he said to us, "Whoever's funniest is the one that's going to be on film. Aaand, action." It was truly a comedy competition.
5. Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008):
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the first thing I wrote that got made, and so it's probably my favorite movie that I've done. It was, all at once, terrifying and exhilarating, and I don't think I'll ever have the same kind of feeling that I had doing it. It was the first lead I had done, so I knew that it kind of rested on my shoulders, which had never happened before. That's when I found out that I thrive on the feeling of being afraid. It brings out the best in me. I want to be scared, because it makes me want to come in there and just slaughter it.
6. Sydney in I Love You Man (2009):
That job was really easy. The way I thought of that role was just like, Super Casual Guy, and so the best way I can describe it is I just showed up to the set and read what was in the script. My job was to make it look like Paul Rudd and I were friends… which we already were.
7. The Muppets (2011):
The Muppets is the film I feel most proud of in the sense that it's good — not quality-wise, which it is. What I mean is that it's a good thing, what the world gets to experience with the Muppets. The Muppets are never mean to anybody, and their whole message is "We're stronger together than we are apart, and you don't have to get laughs by making fun of other people." They sort of remind us of who we wanted to be when we were kids, before the world got hold of us and beat in the harsh reality of how things really are. You watch The Muppets and you're instantly transported to the best version of yourself. That's the thing I'm most proud of.
As told to Alex Heigl.