Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace, Road Rage and Dreams About "Witches Eating His Toes"
In this rapid-fire Q&A, the 35-year-old star of 'End of the Tour' also gets grilled on junk food favorites, industry pet peeves and L.A. lawn care.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
What do you hate most about Hollywood?
How you feel like you're being judged and ranked and compared to your peers in some quantifiable way.
What do you hate most about seeing yourself on the big screen?
It can be equated to when you hear your voice on a tape recorder, and you say, "That is not what I sound like." Unfortunately, that is what you sound like, and that is what I look like.
Segel (left) as Wallace and Eisenberg as Lipsky, who interviewed the author in 1996.
What was the scariest thing about playing David Foster Wallace?
How I Met Your Mother is on TV, like, three times a day, so one of the things that was scary was the chance viewers refuse to accept me [in this role] no matter how good a job I did.
What surprised you most about your co-star Jesse Eisenberg, who plays writer David Lipsky?
That I think I found a new lifelong friend — which is not always the case in movies because it's a very intense, compressed relationship where generally you have the best intentions to stay in touch, but you don't.
Wallace and Lipsky eat a lot of junk food in the film. What's your favorite?
I don't know if it's junk food, but it turns out when I eat this, it's very fattening: a giant bowl of cashews and dried fruit. I think I've zeroed in on the problem: the size of the bowl.
Which food trend annoys you?
Recently I would have said this whole kale bullshit, but now I live on a farm [in Santa Barbara], I grow kale, and I feel better than I've ever felt in my life.
Have you let your lawn die?
I don't have a lawn, but this week I watched a man clean his sidewalk — a job that should be done with a broom — with a hose. Spraying water, standing absentmindedly, having a conversation. It was frustrating.
What's your best tip for avoiding traffic in L.A.?
Pick a route, and stick to it. Now people think, "Oh, I'll use Waze." Everyone else is using Waze, too. There are no more shortcuts. Just deal with it — leave 15 minutes earlier.
What's the worst road-rage experience you've ever had?
I don't understand road rage. You're sitting, you have music on, yet people get furious at someone on a bicycle. That person is working much harder than you, and you speak to him in a way — if you spoke to another human like that in the supermarket, you'd be taken to a mental institution.
What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?
I had a recurring nightmare about witches eating my toes from ages 8 to 14. I think it's because when you're a baby, adults stand over your crib and tell you they're going to eat your toes. This is very terrifying.