“It’s time to get things started!” In part two of our interview with co-writer and star of The Muppets, Jason Segel, we discuss the highly effective marketing campaign for the film, his status as what he describes as, “The least masculine man in Hollywood,” and his next dream project — a kids adventure film that Segel describes as a hybrid of Labyrinth and Goonies.
If you haven’t seen it yet, but sure to take a look at part one of our Jason Segel Muppets Interview.
Screen Rant: Your films have the best marketing campaigns. Of course, writers and directors aren’t typically involved, but in this case it did feel like some scenes were shot specifically for the parodies. The Wanda Sykes/Danny Trejo scene in The Hangover parody in particular.
Jason Segel: “All the credit goes to the Disney marketing team. They turned out to be crazy Muppet geeks also, which is fantastic. You never felt like they had to make a big effort to figure out how to promote this movie. As soon as the doors opened to start having teaser trailers, they were ready and they had a million ideas, which speaks to how much people love the Muppets.”
You’ve got so many great cameos, and I won’t say where, but I read a scene a long time ago with Gonzo and Christian Bale (as Batman) and I so wanted to see that happen.
“Yeah, we had a bunch of cameos, a bunch that we shot actually. The original cut of the movie was three hours long.”
A Muppet epic.
“Exactly. People really turned out in droves to be a part of the movie. I think if you grew up with the Muppets and especially if you have kids you want to be a part of it so you can say to your kids, ‘Hey look I’m friends with the Muppets!’”
Is the DVD already being created? And will some of the cameos that were cut end up on the DVD?
“I think they’re already working on that, and I think the plan is to have those cameos (at least the ones who agree to it) which will be really cool because some of those scenes are hilarious. This will be a spectacular DVD and one of the cool things is that family movies are sort of the last frontier of DVDs at this point. So we make it count, you know?”
You’ve got a ton of upcoming projects. Have you competed production on Judd Apatow’s This is Forty?
“I’m done with that, we just finished. It’s the same character (that Segel played in ‘Knocked Up’) and it’s only a few scenes. I just pop in. The next one we have coming out, Nick and I, is called the ‘Five-Year Engagement.’ So that one’s finally done and I’ve seen it now and it’s awesome. And then I have a movie called ‘Jeffrey Lives at Home’ coming out in March.”
Sex Tape sounds like a fun one, you and Reese Witherspoon?
“(Laughs) Yeah, we haven’t even gotten into talking with her about that one yet. It would be really fun. Nick and I, as you can tell, try to keep things mixed up. We like to explore new challenges for ourselves. So “Sex Tape” is definitely different than ‘The Muppets’ which is different than ‘Five-Year Engagement.’ It’s fun.”
How different was that on-set atmosphere on This is Forty now that you guys have all kind of taken off on your own careers?
“That was kind of like a cameo that I did in that, which was fun. I’ve never done anything like that. I popped in for a couple of days and they treated me real nice. It was very little pressure. It was just about coming in and being funny and hanging out with the old gang. It was actually really fun.”
Since we’re on Apatow, Freaks and Geeks seems like it was such a fertile atmosphere to start out in, in terms of learning how to write comedy. The marriage of Apatow and Feig is so specific because there’s a sweetness to Paul Feig. You’ve gone more in that direction in your own career.
“Yeah, I think Nick and I as a team are very… I don’t know what the right term is. We’re like the least masculine dudes in Hollywood. You know, our bench is more towards relationship stories and sweetness and I have no problem doing kids stuff. I think it’s really fun. So yeah, I guess that’s just how I am and there’s nothing wrong with being hard and raunchy and all that. And we’re capable of doing that, we inject bits of it, but we like the softer stories and happy endings.”
When Sarah Marshall came out, you were asked what property you wanted to tackle and you said Muppets. Now that question comes up again. What else would you like to tackle if you were given that carte blanche?
“I actually just got back the rights to the first script I ever sold when I was 21-years-old. It sat on a shelf and they didn’t know that it was the same Jason Segel. So it just sat there and I came to them because the contract was up and I went to buy it up and they were like, ‘No, wait, that was you? That was your script?’ And I was like, ‘Yep, sorry dudes.’ So I now own it and I want to make it. It’s a kids adventure movie in the style of “Goonies” or “Labyrinth.” I think that’s the next big thing I’d like to try to tackle.”
You’ll be in it?
“Yeah, there are parts I could play, but I’d be happy to just produce it. It’s a really cool kids adventure story and there could be puppets involved.”
Excellent news for puppets lovers (like myself) everywhere.
What kinds of puppets? Do you think that you might direct?
“Maybe at some point. I must say, I don’t have the burning desire to direct. I know too many people in my life who are better suited for that. So I don’t feel the need to direct something just for the pride of saying I’ve directed. I’d rather it turn out great and put some pride aside and have a friend direct it. And I have an idea for a type of puppet I’ve never seen before.”
Can you briefly describe the story?
(Smiling coyly) “I don’t want anyone to steal it right now.”
Do you see yourself continuing to bounce back and forth between TV and features or do you have a preference?
“I like doing movies best of all. Just in that you do it for a short period of time and then you’re free from it and you move on to something else. The TV show’s been an amazing blessing, but it’s been seven years now. We definitely have an eighth year. It’s a long time to play the same character. I couldn’t be more blessed to be around a better group of people. And if I’m going to be on a TV show for this long, this is the one to be on because it’s the best thing ever. But I do enjoy the lifestyle of going in with intense focus for three months and moving on to another type of thing.”
You can see Segel’s latest endeavor when The Muppets opens in theaters on November 23rd.
Follow me on twitter @jrothc
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