As the title of this story suggests, Jason Segel is all kinds of funny. Sitcom funny (How I Met Your Mother), romantic comedy funny (next month’s The Five-Year Engagement, with Emily Blunt) and quirky funny (this weekend’s Jeff, Who Lives at Home, see trailer at bottom). How’s the one-time Freak and Geek do it all? We asked him about juggling work, dating, fitness and, of course, making people laugh.
MADE MAN: So besides How I Met Your Mother, you’re doing re-writes for a movie called Sex Tape and starring in multiple films. How do you balance everything?
JASON SEGEL: I work in my trailer and at night. I write a lot. It’s just sorta how I am built. I come from a family of people who work really hard. I learned first-hand the only way to get the opportunities I wanted is to literally make them. Judd Apatow taught me that. If I think of an idea for a movie, the only way it’s going to get made is if I write it.
I try to keep in relatively good shape. And if I am doing a movie where I have to look like my leading lady would ever conceivably sleep with me, I start dieting. It’s as simple as that.
MM: Between HIMYM and your two new movies, do you feel like you have learned anything about dating?
JS: I feel like I am the least masculine guy in Hollywood! I really like to write scripts about exploring complicated relationships. Those have always been the kinds of films I like—Broadcast News, Harold & Maude, Annie Hall—it’s just always been my area of interest…
MM: You have a basketball scene in Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Do you have a fitness tip?
JS: I have the body of a dancer. It’s just sorta natural. Ha! I try to keep in relatively good shape. And if I am doing a movie where I have to look like my leading lady would ever conceivably sleep with me, I start dieting. It’s as simple as that. I had way too good a time shooting in New Orleans. Too much crawfish! Jeff Who Lives at Home takes place in one day, and as many themes as we have, the movie is about a guy who gains 25 pounds over one day! The producer called it the Benjamin Button of weight loss, like I walk through a doorway and I’m ten pounds heavier. It’s remarkable!
MM: Anything else that motivates you to exercise?
JS: I look in the mirror and think ‘boy, better get moving, kiddo!’
MM: In the film, your character looks for signs he’s on the right path in life. Have you done that?
JS: Yeah, I definitely related to him. I remember a crazy period, from age 21 to 25, when I was out of work, and I was sitting there waiting for someone to cast me. And it very much was like Jeff. This was before I really starting writing hard. And I remember just sitting thinking, I’m going to wait for the sign that I’m worthy of being an actor. It hasn’t happened yet! No, it really hasn’t. Someday!
MM: What does it take to be funny?
JS: Well, I was just born hilarious. But beyond that, this movie was a no-brainer for me. I read the script and it was very clear what my job was—to show up and be regular. It was just so well written, there was no need to talk about what the character’s motivation was or anything. I knew what my job was, and it was just to show up and do what they had written. I didn’t try to bring any funny bones to it. I guess by nature we’re all a little bit funny, but the goal was just to be honest. I don’t like it when I see somebody trying to be funny. Whether it’s comedy or drama, the goal is just being natural. If it ends up being funny, it’s because we happen to be funny by nature.
MM: What does it take to get someone off the couch and out of their comfort zone?
JS: I’m still trying to figure that out.
MM: Who have been some of your favorite guests on HIMYM?
JS: I love working with Chris Elliot and Martin Short. I have gotten to work with some really great comedians that I grew up watching. That’s been the most fun for me, seeing some of my comic influences.
MM: So are we ever going to find out who the mother is on the show?
JS: We have to see if the Mayans were right. It might be December 21st, 2012, you’ll meet the mother! I’d like to see the story come to its natural end, whether it’s eight years or nine years, just whatever. I was so relieved when I found out there was an actual plan! I like the idea of seeing the story through until the end.