From Forgetting Sarah Marshall and How I Met Your Mother to Freaks & Geeks, Jason Segel knows how to make people laugh. In Shrinking, Segel will make you cry. And laugh – and cringe – as downward-spiraling dad and widow, Jimmy Laird, a therapist who embodies the saying, “Physician heal thyself.” Segel chatted with SheKnows to break down his new role and tell us exactly what it was like to have Harrison Ford agree to be in his show.
In Apple TV+’s newest drama, Segel plays a therapist, father and widower. And he’s struggling with every single one of those roles. He is estranged from his daughter, played by Lukita Maxwell, who Segel said at The Paley Center for Media’s premiere Q&A he knew instantly should play his daughter. Maxwell returned the compliment to her TV dad, calling him, and fellow executive producers Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso) and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), the most “confident soft boys she’s ever met.” Pretty much, the best line of the panel which, of course, was met with uproarious laughter and wild affirmative nodding from everyone in the cast.
As a therapist, Segel’s Jimmy works alongside Jessica Williams’ Gaby and Dr. Phil Rhodes, played by a new up-and-coming actor named Harrison Ford. Yes, THE HARRISON FORD. We asked Segel if he remembers the exact moment when he learned that Ford wanted to be in the show. “You offer something to Harrison Ford, knowing he’s going that he’s going to say, ‘No.’ But you get this week, where you get to tell people that you’ve offered it to Harrison Ford. That’s kind of the purpose of offering something to Harrison Ford. But then he said, ‘Yes.’ So then, [laughing], it’s like you’ve asked the prettiest girl in school to prom, and now she’s said, ‘Yes,’ and then you’re like panicked. ‘Wha, wha, what am I going to wear, where do I take them to dinner – Oh no, I don’t even really know how to dance.’”
Segel continued, “You know, all of these feelings come into play. And then the most generous thing about Harrison Ford is that the second arrives, he tries to break through any sense of awe that might be in the room and treats everybody like a peer. ‘We’re here to make something together. What part can I do?’ I learned so much about who I want to be by working with Harrison Ford.” Did Jason Segel just tell us he’s the next Indiana Jones? I think so.
The cast chemistry was not only apparent when Segel was talking about Ford, but on the Paley panel, when Segel’s co-star, Christa Miller, told a story about coming upon Segel on set when he was chanting silently, “Energy, access. Energy, access,” over and over. Thinking it was some form of acting zen method, Miller asked Segel, “Listen obviously these words speak for themselves, but can you tell me what these words mean for you in terms of your technique?” Thinking he was about to tell her the secret to his acting process, Miller listened carefully. Segel confessed, “I was so delighted because I saw what was happening.” He explained to Miller, “No those were my cue lines, he says, ‘Energy,’ then she says, ‘Access.’” Miller joked that before every scene, they all now say, “Energy, access.”
Segel brings his unique dose of awkwardness and humor but reveals a new layer to his talent in Shrinking, and you can’t help but root for his daughter to forgive him and his patients to realize they have an amazing bat-shit crazy therapist. But, most of all, in Segel’s performance, your heart will ache and like Jimmy, you will wish his wife hadn’t died. Shrinking is streaming now on Apple TV+.
Before you go, click here to see the top 10 TV shows that don’t shy away from dealing with grief.
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