Jason Segel on the Good Times of Bad Teacher, and the Dramedy of Five-Year Engagement


Bad Teacher is a pretty typical comedy, but you've been very good in the past when given the opportunity to flex some dramatic muscles. Do you want to do more drama in the future?

I do, yeah. Unfortunately, it's a slower transition for a comedian. If a dramatic does a comedy, everyone is just pleasantly surprised at how funny they are. Unfortunately, when a comedian does a drama, there's an immediate backlash because it wasn't funny. People always expect that there will be some sort of humor to it. You have to sort of slowly make that transition, I think, for people to accept you doing a dramatic role. It's like for Jim Carrey: Truman Show split the difference, and then he was able to do Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

You were so great with some very heavy stuff on How I Met Your Mother this year. Do you think that can help ease the transition?

I don't know if there's much of a connection between TV and movies, unfortunately. But I think that Sarah Marshall sort of started it for me -- and the movie I'm doing now, Five-Year Engagement, definitely splits the difference between comedy and drama.

I know you're filming Five-Year Engagement now. Were there any films in particular you thought of while writing the script?

Well, it hopefully is a very unique film. But we watched Annie Hall a few times, and When Harry Met Sally. Hopefully it's one of those -- that's shooting for the stars, but: hopefully it's one of those romantic comedies in the tone of life, versus being a broad comedy or a hard drama.

On the flip side of that, there's The Muppets. The marketing so far has been ridiculously spot-on. The parody trailers strike the exact right tone. Were you involved in the selling of this movie at all?

I must say, that's the Disney marketing department. They've really been on it. They're so behind the idea of bringing the Muppets back, and everyone brought out their best creative ideas. I've been really, really pleased.

You've been working on The Muppets for four years. Is it rewarding to see the positive reaction online so far? It seems like people are really excited to have it come out over Thanksgiving.

More than anything, I'm just excited for the Muppets. I think they deserve the attention this movie will bring them, and hopefully it will bring them back to the late '70s/early '80s glory. We're trying to hearken back to the first three Muppet movies. We even hired Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords, and he wrote the music for The Muppets.

I know you've written a lot of songs for Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. Did you get to write any songs for The Muppets as well?

I do a lot of the singing and dancing, but I had my hands full with the script and the acting. But there's no better match than Bret and the Flight of the Conchords sensibility. It was a great collaboration.

You're a movie star, successful screenwriter, producer. Any dreams of adding director to your hyphenates?

You know what? No, it's not really my thing. I don't have that kind of focus on a moment to moment basis. I prefer to leave that in the hands of professionals.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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