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I Love You, Man - Paul Rudd and Jason Segel interview

Jason Segel in I Love You, Man

Interview by Rob Carnevale

PAUL Rudd and Jason Segel talk about working together for the third time in new comedy, I Love You, Man, following their work together in Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Jason also reveals what it was like to be wrestled by The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno, while Paul discusses playing the guitar and occasionally playing things a little more edgy.

Q. This is your third film together but the longest you’ve ever shared screen-time. Did you enjoy that aspect of I Love You, Man?
Paul Rudd: We both enjoyed it. I had a great time working with Jason, albeit briefly, on Knocked Up, which was the first time we’d ever worked together. We actually had more to do in Knocked Up than you see in the movie. On Forgetting Sarah Marshall we spent more time with each other and I think clicked and became friends, so this was fun. I was really excited by the idea of working on a movie with Jason.

Jason Segel: It’s a really nice thing when you’re doing a comedy, and especially when our movies tend to have a fair amount of improv, to have a relationship with someone where there’s a short-hand already in place. So, there’s not this period of learning each other’s rhythms. Instead, we were able to step in and we both kind of knew what each other were good at and were able to set the other one up. We’re also both a bit pride-less about not having to take the punch-line.

Paul Rudd: And I do have short hands….

Jason Segel: But it’s nice that no one is a punch-line hog. We’re both happy to let the other one shine at the appropriate moment and that’s a really nice thing to have.

Q. Did you have nicknames for each other like you do in the movie?
Paul Rudd: I called John [Hamburg], the director, the Ham-burger.

Jason Segel: Sometimes you’d call me dickhead!

Q. There’s a lot of guitar playing in the movie. Do either of you actually play guitar?
Jason Segel: Paul can slap some bass!

Paul Rudd: I can’t really. I play guitar like actors play guitar, which is annoying. I’m an annoying guitar player and I’m not very good. Jason is actually a very accomplished musician. He’s a very good piano player. He wrote all the music in Sarah Marshall. And we did sing in the movie. I did also learn the bass.

Q. Do you think that most men will envy the way that your character, Sydney Fife, lives?
Jason Segel: I must say, having nothing to do with my performance and having everything to do with the writing, I think that Sydney Fife is a pretty amazing character. He’s bereft of a quality that I don’t have, which is: “This is who I am, take it or leave it.” I’ve never been that guy. That’s why I was so excited to play a character like that. Someone who is so comfortable in their own skin is a very appealing role because I usually play a more neurotic type of guy.

So, it was neat for me to play a guy who was just super comfortable. It changes your whole body language. I didn’t realise until I was playing the character, but you walk differently, you think differently, and sit differently. You don’t fidget. In life, I tend to be a fidgeter but not when you’re playing a guy like Sydney Fife. This was a very comfortable few months for me. But then immediately after the movie I went back to being myself.

Q. Your character is quite neurotic and awkward around people. Are you anything like that in real life?
Paul Rudd: Well, really I’m quite relaxed. But I think there are elements of the character that I feel. It’s heightened a little bit for the movie but I do know those feelings of over-compensating to cover insecurities. I think that’s a pretty common feeling.

Q. But you’re the perfect guy for this part… the kind of guy that a mother would love…
Paul Rudd: Nothing threatening… [laughs]

Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

Q. Would you like to be more threatening in another role at some stage?
Paul Rudd: Well, sure. Absolutely. But I like playing lots of different roles. In fact, the one I did just before this was not a very dark, sinister part. But my character in Role Models was a bit more of a misanthrope, a bit more pessimistic. One of the things that I found really appealing about this part was playing somebody who was optimistic, who was not afraid to show his emotions, and who was not mean-spirited in any way. So, that is very much a facet of my own personality, just like the character in Role Models exists within me. You know, we all have different sides of our personalities, so I’d love to play some more different parts too.

Q. I gather John Hamburg held off on shooting this so that he could get you for the role?
Jason Segel: It was probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever done. There are a lot of good actors around and my schedule was particularly tough to work out because it was the strike year, so my TV show production schedule got pushed into when we should have been doing the movie. So, for about three weeks I was doing days on the TV show and nights on the movie. But it would have been very easy for John to say this was too much trouble and just hire another actor. But he didn’t do that and he adjusted the schedule. It obviously paid off for him!

Q. You have a pretty cool man cave in your house. Have you ever had anything like that in real life?
Jason Segel: Well, the man cave is a converted garage that my character has turned into the ultimate centre for male bonding. And there is a masturbation station! I’ve not had anything like that in my life. I live alone in my house so I’ve never had the need to put together a man cave or hide any of my things. The last time I had a designated masturbation station was when I was 12-years-old and that was my parent’s bathtub.

Q. How was being wrestled by Lou Ferrigno?
Jason Segel: Being wrestled by Lou Ferrigno was… I fancy myself a big dude. He is gigantic and very strong. So he put me in a sleeper hold that had he wanted to, he clearly could have crushed my larynx!

Read our review of I Love You, Man