Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jason Segel – Movies Spotlight – November 2011

Jason Segel, 31, is probably best known for his role as Marshall on How I Met Your Mother. He got his break on TV, but has started to become a feature film comedy star, writing, starring and producing his own work. This month he stars in The Muppets, which also co-wrote. It is directed by James Bobin (of The Flight of the Conchords) and also stars Amy Adams and Chris Cooper.

Early Career:

Segel planned to be a professional actor while still in college. He got his start with three small feature roles in 1998 (Can’t Hardly Wait, Dead Man on Campus and SLC Punk!).  He also got roles in Slackers, 11:14, an episode of Alias, and a three episode arc on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. However his first breakthrough came in 1999 when Paul Feig and Judd Apatow cast him as a series regular on Freaks and Geeks.

Judd Apatow and Good TV:

Freak and Geeks is thought of as one of the best TV series of all-time, and yet it was cancelled after only one season. Segel played Nick one of the Freaks. On the show Segel met Judd Apatow, who was coming off The Larry Sanders Show and joined Freaks and Geeks as a producer (on his way to becoming the most proficient comedy producer working today). With the failure commercially of Freaks and Geeks, Apatow pitched a new show to Fox and had his first show as its creator – Undeclared, bringing with him from Freaks and Geeks Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, David Krumholtz, Busy Philipps, Sam Levine, and Segel. The show is also excellent and also cancelled during its first season. Segel played one of the series regular’s crazy boyfriend and is hilarious. In 2005, Segel got his a big break securing a series regular role on How I Met Your Mother, playing the show’s protagonist Ted’s best friend Marshall. The show is currently in its seventh season and is a huge hit for CBS. In 2007, Segel reunited with Apatow to take a supporting role in his second feature Knocked Up. He is again very funny playing one of star Rogen’s friends.

Writing, Producing & Starring:

With the success of How I Met Your Mother and Judd Apatow (as a comedy guru), Segel was able to get his script Forgetting Sarah Marshall greenlight. The romantic comedy is produced by Apatow and directed by Nicholas Stoller, who also worked as a director on Undeclared. The film is one of the best comedies of the decade (and my personal favorite rom-com of the decade). The film is about a guy who goes through a tough breakup with his high profile girlfriend. He decides to go to Hawaii to get away and ends up running into her and her new beau. Stoller and Segel have since become a creative team. Their second project was Get Him to the Greek, centered on Russell Brand’s character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel wrote new songs and produced the film. Next they pitched Disney an idea to revive The Muppets. The Dracula Musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the puppet bits on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson presented Segel as the pefect person to bring them back, and Disney agreed. The film comes out this month written and produced by Segel and Stroller, Segel also stars and worked on new songs with Bret McKenzie. Coming April 2012, Segel and Stroller have their fourth feature – The Five-Year Engagement. It is about the ups and downs of a couple, starring Segel and Emily Blunt. They also have a number of projects they are working on.

Becoming a Comedy Star:

How I Met Your Mother and Forgetting Sarah Marshall have propelled Segel to the top of the feature comedy game. His first project as a leading man without Apatow producing came in the form of the buddy-film I Love You, Man co-starring (Apatow alum) Paul Rudd, who Segel worked with previously on Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Knocked Up, and directed by John Hamburg (who directed three episodes of Undeclared). The film is very funny. Next, he took the role voicing Vector the villain opposite Steve Carell in Despicable Me. Then he took supporting roles in Gulliver’s Travels (which Stroller wrote jokes for), Bad Teacher (neither is very good though) and the funny rom-com Friends with Benefits (though his role is more of a cameo).

Future Projects:

Segel has four films scheduled for release in 2012. First he stars in the Duplass Brothers’ (Jay and Mark) new comedy Jeff Who Lives at Home opposite Ed Helms, Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon. It is about Jeff (played by Segel) a detached slacker who might discover his destiny when he helps his brother track down his possibly adulterous wife. Next, he stars in The Five-Year Engagement (detailed above). After that, he reprises his voice role as Vector in Despicable Me 2. Finally, he reprises his role in Judd Apatow’s fourth feature This Is Forty, a spinoff of Knocked Up focusing on Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters.

Jason Segel Career Highlights:

1)      Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)* – principal cast member (DVD)
2)      Undeclared (2001-2002)* – supporting (DVD)
3)      How I Met Your Mother (2005-present) – principal cast member (DVD, Streaming)
4)      Knocked Up (2007)* – supporting (Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming)
5)      Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)* – writer, leading (Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming)
6)      I Love You, Man (2009) – leading (Blu-ray, DVD, Streaming)
7)      Get Him to the Greek (2010) – producer (Blu-ray, DVD)
*Editor’s picks

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