JASON SEGEL (Gary/Written By/Executive Producer) first gained wide attention for his role as Jason in Judd Apatow’s hit comedy “Knocked Up.” He subsequently wrote the screenplay for, and starred as Peter, in director Nicholas Stoller’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” He also served as co-producer and received a writing credit on that film’s sequel “Get Him to the Greek.”
Segel’s other feature film acting credits include “Bad Teacher,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “I Love You, Man.” In addition, he provided the voice for Vector in the animated hit “Despicable Me.”
He will soon be seen in “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” as well as “The Five-Year Engagement” (for which he and Nicholas Stoller also wrote the screenplay), opposite Emily Blunt.
On television, Segel currently stars as Marshall, opposite Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor and Neil Patrick Harris, on the hit CBS comedy series “How I Met Your Mother.” He had a recurring role as Eric on the FOX series “Undeclared,” produced by Judd Apatow. He also portrayed Nick Andopolis, a lanky, fun-loving freak dreaming of stardom as a rock-and-roll drummer on Apatow’s Emmy® Award-nominated NBC series “Freaks and Geeks.”
Segel was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he continues to reside.
A CONVERSATION WITH JASON SEGEL…
Why did you want to help bring the Muppets back to the big screen?
It started when I was a kid—the Muppets were my first comic influence and I was in love with puppetry. I just thought it was an amazing art form. “We ended ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ with a lavish puppet musical and The Jim Henson Company designed the puppets. Something started growing in my belly and Nick and I came up with this idea and pitched it to Disney. Disney liked the idea so we wrote the script.
Our whole goal was to make sure that if we were going to do a new Muppet movie that it live up to the expectations of how everyone feels about the Muppets. Whenever I tell anyone, the response is always two-fold: “Oh my God, that’s awesome.” And then, “You better not mess it up.”
Describe your character, Gary.
Gary is from Smalltown, USA. He’s very naïve, sweet and innocent, and he’s very much in love with his girlfriend Mary. He’s torn between his brother and growing into a new phase of maturation where it’s time to be with his girlfriend. He’s lived with his brother forever so that is his big struggle.
What is Disney’s “The Muppets” about?
The movie starts out with me and my brother Walter, whose wildest fantasy is to meet the Muppets. My goal is to take a vacation to L.A. with my girlfriend Mary. So we all come to L.A. and while taking a tour of Muppet Studios, which are now decrepit, we find out that they’re going to be torn down to drill for oil. So we have to find Kermit, reunite the Muppets— who are now disbanded because of professional rivalries—and put on a show to raise enough money to save the studio.
Can you share more about Walter?
Walter the character—it’s funny, that’s his actual name as well—weird coincidence—Walter is naive, sweet, innocent, wide-eyed, he’s very much like Kermit before Kermit became famous. But he just wants to belong. He’s looking for a family, really. The Muppets are the only people he’s ever seen who were like him, so his quest is to become one of the Muppets.
Describe some of the other characters in Disney’s “The Muppets.”
Mary is a bit of a tomboy—she teaches shop and fixes cars. But her big dream is to marry Gary—me—which, you know, who doesn’t have that dream? Amy Adams is super sweet and super innocent and with credits like “Enchanted,” she was just perfect for this role. She just really gets the joke and she’s willing to play. We really lucked out.
Kermit’s the every man. He’s like Atticus Finch. He just wants to be an upright citizen and be kind. It’s all about laughter and love and doing what’s right.
Fozzie is a lot like me. Fozzie has never said a bad thing about anyone and his jokes aren’t that good, but he’s going to keep on trying.
Gonzo’s a wild card. He’s the loose cannon of the group, but like all of the Muppets, he’s incredibly nice.
Miss Piggy is the ultimate diva.
Animal is the part of all of us that is unhinged. Animal is like our Id. He’s like Caliban from “The Tempest.”
Rowlf’s really cool, sweet and mellow. The entire Electric Mayhem band is like New Orleans: they’ve got a little Cajun to all of them, they’re super nice and a little funky.
How did you feel about singing and dancing with the Muppets?
In the finale of the movie, there are 200 extras, 100 dancers and 50 Muppets. It was very surreal and it happened to take place on my birthday. I walked out from my trailer thinking I was coming to film and everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” including the Muppets. I kept thinking, “I’ve tricked everyone. Somehow I’ve made this weird childhood dream come true.” It was the craziest thing ever.
What makes the Muppets so special in your eyes?
Modern comedy makes jokes at other people’s expense. The Muppets never make fun of anybody. They’re all about being good and nice and trying to make the world a better place. It’s easy to get a laugh out of making fun of somebody, but the Muppets never relied on that.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze Muppet Studios and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the studio, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. With a screenplay written by Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller, the film is directed by James Bobin. Featuring signature celebrity cameos, Disney’s “The Muppets” hits the big screen Nov. 23, 2011. The film is rated PG by the MPAA.
Don’t forget to check out MUPPET MONTH on Sorcerer Radio as well as upcoming reviews from The Muppets coming soon!