Jason Segel Reveals He Was 'Really Unhappy' During Final Years of 'How I Met Your Mother'

Jason Segel
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The 'Shrinking' star recently opened up about working on his previous hit TV series. 

Jason Segel is opening up about his time spent on How I Met Your Mother, revealing that he was "really unhappy" with his life and career during the final years of the show. The 43-year-old actor, and current star of the Apple TV+ series Shrinking, reflected on the hit CBS sitcom during a roundtable interview for The Hollywood Reporter.  

"There was a period in my life and career around the last couple of years of How I Met Your Mother where things were firing in both movies and TV, and everyone was telling me how well it was going and I was really unhappy," he revealed. 

About a father named Ted recounting his adventures of living with his friends in New York City, How I Met Your Mother ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2014. During that time, Segel played Marshall Eriksen alongside Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby, Alyson Hannigan as Lily Aldrin, Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson and Cobie Smulders as Robin Scherbatsky.

After starring in the breakout romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall in 2008, Segel started starring in more movies, including 2011's The Muppets and The Five-Year Engagement as well as This Is 40 and Sex Tape during the final seasons of the CBS sitcom. 

"And so I then had to grapple with why? What's off about this equation?" Segel shared. "I think the thing that I was confronted with is that it's really great to make the decision of 'f**k it, I do what I want,' but unfortunately there's a system of permission in place where people will go, 'We don’t give a sh*t [what you want to do].' Like, 'Good for you, man.'"

Segel then went on to explain how he had to fight for various things in his career while realizing he reached the point that it was time for him to start doing what he wanted.  

"I had to fight hard to put a Dracula puppet musical at the end of a movie. All my ideas are [often met with] people being like, 'No, that's stupid,'" the actor recalled. "So, it's about summoning the will to say, 'OK, sh*t, I have an idea and I believe in it and it won’t leave me alone and now I’m going to do the three or four years of fighting through all the permissions and pushing the boulder up the hill.' And then sometimes you get the boulder right to the top of the hill and they still say no, and three years are gone." 

He continued by saying, "It's tricky. Part of the equation is getting to the point where you ask yourself, 'What is worth trading my time for? What am I going to give over nine months or three years for?' Because I look back at the ones I didn't like and I'm like, 'That was not worth age 28.'"

Segel also looked back on his career right after How I Met Your Mother ended, when he was trying to figure out what to do next in his career, including taking a stab at a different genre of acting.  

"I really wondered if I was actually good enough to do drama. I took a movie called The End of the Tour to play David Foster Wallace. The degree of difficulty of it not looking like a Saturday Night Live sketch, when you get the glasses and the bandanna and you're saying the lines, felt so high," he revealed. 

"I also had no system of prep because you prep differently for comedy. There was a lot of improv in how we came up, and these were big chunks of dialogue. I literally just played in my head, 'What would Edward Norton do?' I got a dialect coach and I did all these things that I heard you do if you're a real actor," he continued. "But man, I was scared…"

Since then, Segel has found success playing a therapist on Shrinking, a dramedy he co-created alongside Bill Lawrence and Ted Lasso breakout star Brett Goldstein. When asked about his character behaving badly on the series, which has been renewed for season 2, Segel admitted, "I'm flawed."

"I have stuff that I've done that I'm not proud of, and I have friends and family who know these things and still love me," he shared, explaining, "My acting idol when I was young was Kermit the Frog, and then that gave way to Tom Hanks and Jimmy Stewart. It's the same style of acting, as a surrogate. I am you on this journey, so put all of your stuff onto me." 

"There's another type of acting that's aspirational, they're way cooler than you, like George Clooney. I don't watch him and think, 'That's me,' he continued. "I think that’s who I aspire to be. So, as long as I'm playing it like I’m all of us, and, 'God, look at this f**king terrible thing I'm doing,' people will be like, 'Oh, I’ve done stuff like that.'"

Segel's full interview with Steven Yeun, Mo Amer, John Mulaney and Tyler James Williams can be read at THR.com.