Just two days before the news hit, the Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared alum and How I Met Your Mother co-star had just made his leading man debut when the R-rated comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. For those who had watched the buzzy future box office hit in Austin, the news made some sense: The breakup story ends with Segel’s Peter staging an elaborate puppet vampire comedy-rock musical.
On the other hand, the movie also became almost immediately infamous for its shots of Segel’s full frontal nudity, a thinly veiled metaphor expressing Peter’s newfound emotional vulnerability. Released a month later, Forgetting Sarah Marshall grossed an impressive $100 million-plus worldwide.
Also an unqualified success: 2011’s The Muppets, which hit theaters 10 years ago today. The charming, funny, star-studded musical also co-starred Segel as Gary, who along with his Muppet brother Walter, Amy Adams, Kermit, Piggy and gang, must raise enough money to save their beloved theater from a sinister oil mogul. The film scored loads of praise from critics, $165 million worldwide and an even an Oscar win for Best Original Song (“Man Or Muppet”).
The internet will tell you that Disney originally balked at Segel’s initial pitch to make a new Muppets movie because of the actor’s recent towel-dropping, but in an interview earlier this year promoting his weighty family drama Our Friend, Segel says that was never the case. Or at least he chooses to deflect with humor.
“I don't think so, because Kermit is always pantless,” Segel tells us (watch above).
What Segel is serious about is what “an absolute dream come true” making The Muppets was for him. “It was a gift to my childhood self, and I watch it sometimes,” he says now.
Segel also says that the past decade has given him time to reflect on the personal messages the film conveyed.
“I don't know what I'm writing about when I write something… I watch that movie now, and I think that as much as it's a love letter to the Muppets, it's a movie about me saying goodbye to my adolescent self. That was probably the last comedy that I wrote. [Now] I watch it and I'm like, ‘Oh, you're Gary and Walter.’ And these scenes of saying goodbye, ‘I'll always care about you, but you need to go be with those silly guys. And I need to go be a grownup.’ [That] was probably exactly what I was going through at the time. Subconsciously.”
Watch Segel explain why he hasn’t made a comedy since 2014:
— Videos produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Steve Michel