Since Jason Segel completed the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother in 2014 he has done several shorter-term television projects, including Shrinking, a series that Segel also co-created. In a conversation with Variety, Segel spoke about how his approach to his career has changed with projects like Shrinking.
Segel notes what he enjoys most about acting. He explains, “The actual acting process to me is the most peaceful, simplest time of my life. Your job is to make sure you know your lines perfectly, and show up there on time. For everything else, someone else’s in charge — including the scene. You can’t really have too firm a plan, because then you’re not leaving space for what Harrison Ford’s going to do. If your plan is too firm, you’re not going to have the magic.”
He admits that he has more time now to focus on acting because he is no longer starring on a sitcom that shoots two dozen episodes a year. He says, “I was on this track where every year, I was doing How I Met Your Mother for eight months of the year, writing a movie during that year which would then shoot during the hiatus. It was amazing, but there wasn’t much time to think about approach or to be too conscious about stuff that I now look at. I wasn’t being as thoughtful as I am now. Around 33, I realized I was going to shift from working with friends as the priority to working with people I admire, so that I could learn from them.”
You can’t really have too firm a plan, because then you’re not leaving space for what Harrison Ford’s going to do. If your plan is too firm, you’re not going to have the magic.”
On that new strategy, Segel says, “It was a weird decision, but it all led me to how I feel now when I’m acting in Winning Time or Shrinking. I feel as though I have built together a backpack of advice. I have a lot of different, really smart people’s words in the back of my head.”
Regarding writing his Shrinking character, Segel adds, “When we were writing Jimmy, I said I want him to have Michael Keaton energy — that kind of I’m pretty sure that I can keep it together. But there’s a chance I can’t. That’s kind of where that character is centered, where you’re just really, desperately trying for there not to be a scene.”