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Monday 11 December 2017

Segel proves he is lord of the ring

Star Jason tells Paul Byrne why he's happy to play the lovelorn slacker once again

I blame Judd Apatow. He was smart enough to realise that the true modern male -- the belching, farting, comic-book-collecting, plate-licking male -- was not represented in Hollywood's vision of the world. And he was right.

Hollywood's idea of a real man could bring his woman breakfast in bed, jog up Everest, foil both pesky kidnappers and the stock market, and then play a mean Motown medley on the piano.

In truth, your average modern male is far more Tommy Cooper than Tom Cruise, content to find most of his thrills and spills whilst livin' la vida sofa.

A perfect example is Jason Segel.

"I think most people feel unworthy when they make it in Hollywood," says the 32-year-old, LA-born Segel.

"And so, yeah, I definitely feel like a cuckoo in the nest. But then I look around and realise that everyone's a cuckoo. The trick is to try and do some good work and have a good time."

Apatow gave Segel his first big romantic lead, in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel teamed up with Paul Rudd for I Love You, Man the following year. Segel repeated the lovelorn lug trick in 2011's over-rated Bad Teacher and the recent indie flop Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

And here he is again, in a romantic lead, with Emily Blunt, in this week's The Five-Year Engagement, another Apatow offering.

"Doing the romantic stuff is hard," sighs Segel, "but it certainly helps when the person you're getting romantic with is someone you know, and like.

"There's no real guide book about these things -- well, there are, but they're all generally rubbish -- so you just have to throw yourself into the situation and believe in that situation.

"Jesus, I'm beginning to sound as though we're making Shakespeare here, or a Gulf War drama.

"This is comedy, so, you know, the main thing is that we make not only each other laugh but also that invisible audience out there watching us ... "

The Five-Year Engagement is smart and honest but more than a little too long. Still, you have to admire Apatow and co for their determination to show the warts alongside the wonder when it comes to love.

"That's where comedy lives," says Segel. "All of us fear that we're not good enough, that we're doing this love thing wrong, that we're idiots compared to everyone else, but, truth is, none of us are supermen or superwomen when it comes to life.

"You just have to be honest with yourself and your loved one, and everything else will work out."

Segel recently completed another Apatow outing, This Is 40, and is currently filming The End Of The World.

After that, he might just be able to take a break. Maybe have a nice cup of tea with Michelle Williams, Segel having been reportedly dating the actress. Not that he's about to reveal any details.

"Life is good," is all he'll say. "I'm making movies -- something I've always wanted to do -- and I'm getting to hang out with the most incredible people.

"It also helps you realise that we're all pretty much the same deep down. I think that's what great art taps into -- this universal recognition. That, despite the different customs and costumes, we're all looking for love, some good food and good company, and a warm bed. What more could you want in life ... ?

The Five-Year Engagement hits cinemas on Friday

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