INTERVIEW: Jason Segel Talks Balancing Comedy With Grief in ‘Shrinking’
Shrinking is a new Apple TV+ show from the Ted Lasso team of Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence. The series takes us on Jimmy’s (Jason Segel) journey through grief while also dealing with his own patients as a psychiatrist. He works with his boss Phil (Harrison Ford) and his friend Gabby (Jessica Williams) who are his support system as well as his co-workers and the show, as a whole, is just a genuinely great series.
As part of the roundtable for the press junket, I asked Segel about how the show managed to find the balance between Jimmy’s grief mixed with the comedic elements of his relationship to Harrison Ford’s Phil. For someone like me who has seen a lot of Segel’s work, I pointed out that he manages to bring the absurd into his more dramatic moments in comedies and it makes for these instances where you’re crying over something like “Dracula’s Lament” from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But it works and that’s why you care about his characters and I told him as much.
Segel thanked me for the compliment on his work and explained how they found the humor in Jimmy’s pain. “You know what’s funny a lot of people sometimes when I’m just doing acting, regular in my mind, tell me, oh, that was so funny,” Segel said. “And I’m like, wait, no. But I was just doing acting. Like this happens on show, on movies when I do a drama. They’re like, ‘oh, we didn’t know that that scene was gonna be funny.’ And I guess like one of the things that I have learned about myself, which seems to be true, is that I think that I am, I’m overclocked in terms of like the way I feel stuff I maybe feel at 1.5 times the amount that you’re supposed to. And I think there’s something inherently funny about that, like watching a grown man feel too much, I think has always made me laugh and people relate to it because I think probably a lot of the time where we have reins on our feelings that we’ve been told like, ‘oh, don’t let those get outta control.’ I let ’em get outta control. Especially when they say action.”
He went on to talk about exploring that in Shrinking. “I think it’s really fun and I’ve always felt really safe doing it,” he said. “And then I think by nature, if like comedy is setting up two opposing walls, Harrison Ford’s kind of like superpower is the stoicism with which he can make it through the craziest things like that scene when the guy comes at Indiana Jones with the knives and Harrison Ford just calmly pulls out his gun and shoots him. That’s like a little bit what’s happening emotionally in these scenes. I’m coming at Harrison Ford like this and he just shoots me with the gun. So that would be my analysis of how that works. The thing when I’m proceeding with too much emotion just to loop it back around, I don’t understand that it’s funny until I see it. I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, look at that guy. Feel so much.'”
Jason Segel is absolutely incredibly in Shrinking and it is available on Apple TV+ on January 27th.
(featured image: Apple TV+)
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