Bright and early, funnyman (and one of my personal celebrity crushes) Jason Segel comes in for our interview, coffee in hand, and says jokingly, "It's Saturday morning, but I'm happy to be here. Went out last night and thought, Where would I like to be at 9 a.m. tomorrow?" Gotta love the guy for being a trooper.
Jason's best known for his roles as Marshall Eriksen on the hit TV show, How I Met Your Mother, as well as films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man, but has been working on something a little different recently. He's starring as Vector, a villain in the upcoming family animated film, Despicable Me, and gives us the scoop on what it was like working on an animated film, how he was as a child, and his next big project.
You're used playing a good guy, how did you feel about playing a villain?
It was exciting for me, I've been wanting to play a villain for a long time. The thing about a villain is that you're free from limitations. You know, a normal person is forced to be regular. But a villian, by definition is "unhinged," so playing him I got to be anything I wanted to be. I didn't have to feel grounded or normal or anything like that. It's the same with animation, suspension of disbelief sort of goes out the window, you can do anything you want, so that was exciting for me.
Villains to me were always compelling, like Dracula. I'm obsessed. I think Dracula is the coolest, he's so misunderstood. But when I look back, Disney, though this isn't a Disney film, always managed to nail the villains. They're always so compelling and so evil, even though they're kid movies. Like Ursula, she's scary and awesome. So when I was pitched this movie is strictly about villains, I couldn't have been more excited. I would love to see the Ursula movie. And that's what this movie is. It's how villains became villains, their motivation, and their story behind it.
What was it like working on an animated film?
The process is pleasant and easy. You go in for three hours a day over two years, I think I probably went in like six times. You're alone, you go in, and they let you improv for three or four hours. It was sort of my dream come true.
They gave me a sketch very early of the character, and I came up with two voices and they picked the one they felt was best. From there, it was easy. I would go in and do my scenes, literally doing everything I could think of for those four hours, and then they chose the best of the best. Gosh, there must be hundreds of hours of me just being a jackass.
I had a real advantage in that I have background in puppetry. In puppetry, you're used to picking voices and doing characters that are not limited by your physical body because you have this puppet that looks nothing like you. It's very similar with animation, and that's what I loved about it. You're not limited by how you look. I look very particular, I'm a 6'4" dude, I'm a lumbering man, so a geeky voice doesn't sound right coming out of my body, but all of a sudden it wasn't my body, I was this 5'3" nerdy dude.
How was it to be in a kids' movie?
I'm good at the R-rated comedies and have written a lot of the stuff that I've done, but for some reason, kids' movies are sort of where my heart is. To this day, some of my favorites are like Labyrinth and Goonies, it's a bit of who I am. Some of these movies, when I was young, made me feel like I could do anything, I could accomplish anything, or this crazy adventure could happen in my life, because when you're young you don't know that these things aren't true, and I'm still drawn to that. I like the idea of making kids feel like they can do anything.
Vector always wore an orange jumpsuit. What is your go-to outfit to make yourself feel powerful?
Yes, I have an orange jumpsuit [laughs]. Well, it's funny you should ask that, because you know how I'm a writer as well, and for some reason, I wear a suit every day when I write, even alone in my house. I guess because I want it to feel like a job and that I have things to accomplish? So I get up, shower, and even if I'm not leaving my house, I put on a proper suit and sit alone in my house in a full suit. It's very strange.
What kind of kid were you growing up?
I was an odd kid. I wore a Superman cape until I was 12 years old. I'm not joking. I would wear it underneath my clothes to school. What stopped me from wearing the Superman cape was my older brother. He's five years older and a proper basketball star. I remember going to the state championship game, and running up and down the side of the court in my Superman cape going, "You can do it, Adam!" and at one point in the middle of a play, he takes the ball and is like, "Sit the f*** down." That was the last day I wore the Superman cape.
I also remember getting a spanking in the Superman suit, which is just bizarre. It's like, you're not that heroic when you're getting spanked.
Do you have any kids in your life, like nieces or nephews, that are excited about this movie?
I don't have any kids in my life, but to be honest, I'm excited about this movie. There's just something so beautiful about this movie because a family can watch it and everyone is enjoying it on their own level. There's something really special about genuinely enjoying something together. Like Barney for instance. Yeah the kids are enjoying it but the parents are rolling their eyes and wanting to blow their brains out. But it's really cool when everyone in a family can enjoy something together because you don't get that often. You can try with dinners and whatever, but a family for two hours laughing together is a great bonding experience.
Super-excited for your next project, The Muppets. Can you tell us anything about it?
Yeah, we start shooting in September, I couldn't be more excited or happy. We've been writing this for about 2 1/2 years, and it's finally getting made. We got a Christmas Day release next year. My goal is to bring it back to the late '70s, early '80s Muppets. We get asked a lot, "Is this going to be a dirty version of the Muppets?" No, not at all. I'm trying to restore the Muppets to their full glory.
A big thank you to Jason for taking the time out to talk to us! Look forward to other interviews with the rest of the Despicable Me cast later this week!
Are you a Jason Segel fan? Looking forward to the movie?
Images via Universal Studios