'Bad Teacher's' Jason Segel: How I Got My First Role (Video)

Bad Teacher Cameron Diaz Jason Segel 2011
Columbia Pictures

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in Columbia Pictures' comedy "Bad Teacher."

Former president of casting at Paramount, Deborah Aquila, discovered him in a high school play.

Jason Segel co-stars with Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake in Bad Teacher, which hits theaters today. How did he get his start in movies?

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"I got seen in a high school play when I was 17 years old," Segel said Thursday on the Late Show With David Letterman.

"Who sees you in a high school play high school kids," joked Letterman.

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"I grew up in Los Angeles, went to a chi chi private school," said Segel. There, he was approached by a woman in the audience. "I said 'who are you?' and she was like 'the president of Paramount.' It was Deborah Aquila, the president of casting."

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But after the fast start, he still had problems landing roles. He was up against James Van Der Beek for Varsity Blues. The role eventually went to Van Der Beek.

"I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting it. I was sitting for the final audition as cool as a cucumber, when I heard a wild celebration in the room: 'We got Van Der Beek, I can't believe it!'" Segel recalled to Letterman. "A second later, they called down, and said to me, 'We're ready for you.' It was like the last showing in a haunted house, where everyone wants to be done, they're taking off their costumes."

Van Der Beek recently starred on Segel's successful CBS show, How I Met Your Mother. "He was fantastic," said Segel.