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INTERVIEW: Michael Urie Talks ‘Shrinking’ and Friendship

Michael Urie in 'Shrinking' playing tennis

When it comes to comedy shows that will make you cry, Apple TV+ has you covered. And their latest is the show Shrinking from Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein that takes us on Jimmy’s (Jason Segel) healing journey after the death of his wife. But Jimmy would be nowhere without his friends who are ready to help him pick up the pieces (when he’ll have them).

One of those friends is Brian (played by Michael Urie). Brian is Jimmy’s best friend who hasn’t seen him in over a year and while he has his own relationship with his boyfriend, he’s still worried about the well-being of his best friend and getting to speak to Michael Urie about the series was a blast!

“What’s really wonderful about this show is that Jason’s sort of the nucleus,” he said. “Jimmy’s the heart and all the veins that go off to his neighbors or his kid or his patients or his coworkers or his best friend. The lines get blurred and we all kind of know each other. And it’s all the people in Jason’s life and the relationships that they develop around him, which I love. And when I was reading the script, I was like, ‘oh wow, now I just get to have a scene with Harrison and I I can have a scene with Jessica and I know all these people.’ When I first got the job, I was like, ‘I wonder if I’ll only be a side side character that deals with Jimmy since I’m his friend and it’s not like that.”

Urie went on to talk about the ensemble of the show. “And it becomes a really wonderful ensemble. And building the relationship, specifically the relationship with Jimmy and Brian knowing they’re best friends, but they haven’t talked to each other for a year. And Jimmy is a different person now. It kind of made for a wonderful rebirth of the friendship. And we were able to kind of build it from the beginning and we would occasionally talk about like ‘what do you think we were like before?’ Because the characters went to college together. So like ‘what do you think the characters were like in college? What was this transition like? What was that transition like?’ And, it was great. It was a really great acting exercise to be like 1, 2, 3 best friends, but best friends who’ve been estranged.”

The benefits of an ensemble

Talking about how the show is an ensemble piece and reminds me a bit like theatre in how these characters interact with each other, I asked Urie about whether or not he preferred ensemble pieces to things where he is part of a larger story but might not work with everyone. For Urie though, he loves the ensemble work he’s doing on Shrinking.

“I was on tons of episodes of The Good Wife and The Good Fight and I never met anyone that was on that show. Because I was always like in a different storyline. I mean, I met them at the wrap party, but I never got to work with Christine Baranski or Juliana Margoles. And I was always sort of bummed by it. I was like, ‘God, I’m sort of sequestered my own little world.’ But on a show like Shrinking or when we did Ugly Betty, you have these different characters. No two characters that are alike, which is so great. And you could have any combo and something fun would happen. And there was no character on Ugly Betty that I never worked with.”

He went on, talking about how the characters all work together. “At some point they put all the characters together and figured out what that was. What does this chemical mixture produce and Shrinking is like that too. You put two characters together, who have Jimmy in common, and what will happen. And, I got in trouble once for saying, it writes itself. A writer got mad at me for saying it writes itself. Of course it doesn’t write itself. Somebody writes it. But when you put two characters together, there’s inspiration that comes and it can be really exciting. And I love that about the show. I love that my character can have a scene with Harrison Ford or with Jessica Williams, even though my friend is Jimmy. It’s really special. And I think what’s great about it is you don’t have to see the big intros. You don’t need it, this show’s so good about picking up mid scene or picking up in mid relationship. It’s not all about showing your homework kind of, or a bunch of exposition. It really asks the audience to join us where we are. And I love that. I think that’s great. I love that when I’m watching TV and I think audiences love that too. “


Shrinking airs on Apple TV+.

(Featured image: Apple TV+)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.