After reviving the Muppets last year, Jason Segel leaves the puppet world behind for the all-too-human dilemmas at the heart of "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," a dramedy about a day in the life of a dysfunctional family.
The 31-year-old star and writer of "The Muppets" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" stars as Jeff, a slacker who still lives with his mom (Susan Sarandon), spending his days planted on the couch and searching for his purpose.
He just might find it after he gets swept up in the events surrounding his self-absorbed brother Pat (Ed Helms), who discovers that his wife Linda (Judy Greer) may be having an affair.
amNewYork spoke with Segel about the movie, directed by Mark and Jay Duplass, which opens Friday.
What's Jeff's function in the story? He's a watcher, certainly. He believes that he has a destiny, and he is unwilling to compromise that that is what he's meant for. Nothing else appears on his radar. I'm not that dude. I kinda was for a minute when I was out of work, and then I decided you've got to take the bull by the horns and I started writing.
How was Jeff more of a challenge than some of the other parts you've played? What drew me to Jeff is that he's very much like Chauncey Gardiner from "Being There." What was scary and challenging about it was [that] my job was to do nothing. As an actor with an ego, you want to do something, you want to show you're good at acting, and the big challenge was to resist that and just do nothing.
What was it like to watch Bret McKenzie win an Oscar for his Muppet song "Man or Muppet"? Muppets-wise, it was incredibly validating. It was the end of a five-year, very hard battle. The Muppets were kind of languishing on a shelf. More than that, that night I was surrounded by Jonah [Hill] and Judd [Apatow] - all these people that, when we started 10 years ago, we dreamt and talked about, "We're going to take over Hollywood someday."
What did that feel like? It felt like we crashed a party we weren't invited to - the cool kids' party. But then we all realized [that] we had tickets. A couple of us were nominated. We kind of did it - a bunch of weird, fat underdogs did it.