Hollywood loves a good laugh. And Judd Apatow, producer and writer behind such recent hits as "Superbad," "Knocked Up," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," seems to be supplying most of them recently.
With former "Freaks and Geeks" star Jason Segel handling writing and acting duties, the two have embarked on a new tour de force, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," a wild break-up comedy that begs the question: "How much of Jason Segel do you really want to see?" The two recently sat down with Peter Travers for "Popcorn" on ABC News Now to discuss the movie, their past work experiences, muppet aspirations and… getting naked.
"Well," Segel said on the inspiration behind their new movie, "it's basically just ten years of hapless dating. I'm not very good at dating or relationships and I always end up generally getting dumped and some woman leaves my house just wildly relieved to be free and so it seemed like a good area for me."
Surviving the Naked Break-Up
Segel explained the origin of the soon-to-be notorious break-up scene, where his character gets dumped in the buff while the offending woman stammers the hurtful words. "I had a naked breakup, earlier on in my twenties. This woman called me from the airport and said, 'I need to come see you,' which I don't know, I thought that meant let's have sex. But, she arrived at my house and I was there waiting for her naked. I thought that would be cute, which I've never done. I was clearly delusional, because the first thing out of her mouth was, 'We need to talk.' And then this breakup begins and all I kept thinking to myself is,'Tthis is the funniest thing that's ever happened to anybody.' So I put that in the old storage unit and I started writing it when Judd told me the only way I would ever work again is if I wrote my own material."
To read Peter Travers' Rolling Stone Review of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," please click here.
Apatow continues, saying "It makes for a hilarious scene, because the scene is actually very sweet. It is about being blind-sided, where you think your relationship is going okay and someone just knocks you out in one punch. And then from there, it really becomes about trying to get over somebody and how difficult it is, even when the relationship is a mess."
Confronted with the relationship horrors that their film's alter egos regularly go through, Apatow and Segel readily admit they have no shame. "I feel like I was born without a sense of shame for sure. Yeah, absolutely. I'm pretty pitiful in most ways," Segel confesses.
Apatow adds: "I'm not sure I'm making him have no shame. Making him… be naked, which is something I've always wanted. I don't know why, but I've always wanted him to be naked."
While Apatow was able to lend his legendary producing skills to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Segel was the creative force who wrote the script. "I've always said to Jason, 'If you want to get to the place, where you can be a lead in movies, you'll probably have to write it yourself, because you don't fit into maybe the parts that people are casting for.' People like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey, they wrote their first movies. That's how they broke through,'" Apatow explained.
Creating A Musical Vampire
Fans of the short-lived 1990's TV show "Freaks and Geeks" will remember Segel's proclivity for music. It was that leaning that produced one of the more memorable sequences from "Sarah Marshall," a musical Dracula puppet story, with the vampire in the hero role. The musical was written with an entirely different intention. Segel recalls: "This is embarrassing. That wasn't particularly written for this movie. In this terrible out of work period I thought I would re-launch my career by putting on a lavish Dracula puppet musical. My problem was, though, I was doing it without any sense of iron, like I thought it was going to be a very serious piece. And I played it for Judd. And Judd started laughing. And I got really hurt."
This won't be the last puppet story for Segel. "Nick Stoller, the [Sarah Marshall] director and I are writing the new Muppet movie for Disney, which is my dream come true, honest to God, so I'm very excited about it," he said.
Remembering Your Favorite Moments
Asked to share their favorite moments from "Sarah Marshall," Apatow and Segal recall: "There's a scene in the movie, where Jason's ex-girlfriend suddenly decides she wants him back," says Apatow, "and she wants to make love to him and he is unable to, because he's fallen out of love with her and they keep trying. And I like it because it's really dirty and it's really sweet and heartbreaking at the same time that it's just…it's over. Their moment is over and they're trying and it all goes terribly wrong."
"For me," Segel says, "the scene that makes me smile, not because it's funny but because it makes me feel like we made a really good movie. Throughout most of the beginning of the film, you're convinced that this is just the villainous ex-girlfriend and then, all of a sudden, there's a scene where I kind of confront her about cheating and 'I wish you would just try harder,' I say. And she flips the switch and says, 'You don't think I tried? I've tried everything. You wouldn't get off the couch, you know. I wanted to bring you with me and you wouldn't come along.' And all of a sudden, the movie becomes more complicated and it becomes a movie about how…how relationships really…they're a very fluid thing and nobody's to blame. And when I watch that scene, I smile, because I feel like we made a good movie."
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" opens on Friday April 18.