Imagine Roy Kent and Indiana Jones walk into a bar. Roy: “Hey.” Indiana: “Hey.” That is exactly what happened when Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso‘s Roy Kent) first met Harrison Ford when he agreed to take on a lead role in Shrinking, a drama that finds laughter in sadness. Goldstein, together with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and Jason Segel came together to create this drama about mental health and grief. Goldstein, who’s wearing his executive producer and writer hat, and writer Neil Goldman sat down with SheKnows to chat all about what makes their deeply sad show, funny and entertaining. And, of course, how they were able to convince Harrison Ford to do their show.
The show centers on Jason Segel’s character Jimmy Laird who is spiraling after the death of his wife. Oh and he’s also a therapist and father of a teen that is actively ignoring him. Segel’s signature humor centered around his awkwardness is at the heart of the show. At work, Segel’s therapist works alongside Ford’s Dr. Rhodes and Jessica Williams’ Gaby. The first half of the pilot shows Laird being a fairly wild therapist that speaks the truth. In fact, it’s a bit reminiscent of Jim Carrey’s character in Liar, Liar, an attorney who couldn’t help but speak the truth after his young son made a magical wish that his dad couldn’t lie anymore. Segel’s Jimmy is exactly that guy except he’s the super nice version of him.
When asked if Liar, Liar was an inspiration, Goldstein laughs, “We saw Liar, Liar and thought that needs to be longer. That needs to be a 10-part (series).” Goldstein went on to explain how they decided to do a show about grief, “The thing I get really angry about with drama, when I see a drama when it doesn’t have any humor in it at all, I always think that that’s bad art. Well, you haven’t been watching life. Because that’s not how people behave, you know people in war zones laugh. People under extreme emotional distress will love and laugh. And there’s joy in these weird moments. And so, I think we’re always looking to make something that can express that.”
Sidebar: Goldstein is the exact opposite of his Ted Lasso character on the outside, and answered everything in the sweetest, non-swearing, least Roy Kent-way. To be honest, I was mildly disappointed when he didn’t swear at me Roy Kent-style.
When asked what their initial reaction was when they found out Harrison Ford agreed to do their show, Goldman says simply, “Disbelief. The disbelief continues to this moment. It was one of those things, you do this in every show, you start off with sort of the dream person in mind that you’ve got no chance to get.” Goldman continues, “In this case, we were like… let’s find out that he doesn’t want to do it and move on with our lives. But miraculously, he read the script, he loved the script. And Brett was in London and Brett met with him because he was doing Indiana Jones at the time.” Goldstein interjects, “Ever heard of it?” Goldman replies, “This small movie, no Liar, Liar. But Brett charmed the pants off him.”
Without missing a beat, Goldstein picks up the story, “It’s insane that we’ve got him… I mean we’re very, very lucky. He read it. And he liked the script. And he connected with the character and he wanted to talk about all the things that that it reminded him of from his life.” Goldstein describes the first read-through with Ford, “Having seen him at the read-through, the joy in his eyes getting laughs, he’s so funny. And I think he was just really excited to do a comedy. Like, I don’t think he’s really been let off the leash comedically.”
Asked if he recalls the first thing Ford said to him when they first met, Goldstein replies, in the best gruff Harrison Ford-impersonation voice ever, “Hey.” Goldstein and Goldman say they had both Ford and Segel in mind when they were casting their roles. Goldstein reveals, “I mean, I swear down. We wanted Jason. We didn’t think we’d get him. And then when we got Jason, that was amazing. And then Harrison was beyond the pipe dream. Harrison was like, ‘Well, obviously not Harrison Ford. But someone like Harrison Ford, because we’ll never get Harrison Ford.’ And we got Harrison Ford. So yeah, it wasn’t I mean, like, seriously, it’s not like there’s any list where Harrison Ford is your second choice! Oh, we didn’t get God. So I guess we’ll have to go with Harrison Ford.” If you cast them, they will come, it seems. Maybe Liar Liar’s Jim Carrey might make a cameo, Goldstein replies, “Now you’re talking.”
So get ready to weep a lot and laugh a lot. Because in Shrinking, Goldstein is about to kick a soccer ball through your heart and somehow get you to laugh at the pain. Crying is fun. 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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