Jason Segel, best known for his work on the nine-season sitcom How I Met Your Mother, has a knack for making us laugh from our TVs to the big screen, but being on stage and cracking jokes is another story. In his latest film, Our Friend, the actor plays the real-life devoted pal to a couple (played by Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck), who lends an extra hand to them, especially with some much-needed levity when terminal cancer hits their family hard and fast.
Jason Segel portrays Dane Faucheux, who has aspirations to pursue a career in standup in between the family’s woes. It’s an endearing aspect of Our Friend that turned out to be an especially nerve-wracking part of the role for Segel to prepare for. In his words to CinemaBlend:
Man, I was so embarrassed doing that standup sequence. I don’t do standup and I also knew it needed to be mediocre standup and doing a mediocre performance is kind of my nightmare and so I wrote three or four jokes and they are so bad, they are so bad.
Many of Jason Segel’s famous friends know the feeling of getting up and doing a standup set, ala a young Seth Rogen, who got his start performing at bar mitzvahs as a teenager before he and Segel both got an early start together on Judd Apatow’s Freaks & Geeks. But oddly enough, it wasn’t until Segel joined Our Friend that the 41-year-old actor got to dabble in standup comedy, and in the context of Our Friend, it was not supposed to be good. He continued during our interview:
I may have gotten up in a different context like hosting something and told a few jokes, but no I’ve never gotten on stage and said ‘I’m Jason Segel, and I’m here to entertain you… with comedy,’ so it was really uncomfortable.
Standup comedy is a completely different muscle to flex than reading lines and improvising material based on the situation created by other actors. Many comedy actors we know and love have roots in the profession, but it really is an odd and complex kind of performance when you think about it.
And although comedians don’t tend to get handed out the gold trophies come Oscar season for their sharp jokes, some of the most incredible dramatic performances have come from actors with loads of comedic experience before. I’m looking at you Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Jonah Hill and Adam Sandler! Jason Segel has worked outside of comedy more than usual lately, but Our Friend might just be his best performance yet.
The actor uses his natural comedic timing to elevate sequences between Dakota Johnson's Nicole, Casey Affleck’s Matt Teague and the kids in the movie. But he also brings a standout and complex performance as the titular “friend” a struggling family needed most.
Our Friend is coming to theaters and to VOD this Friday, January 22. Check out what other movies are coming soon with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule.