Born on January 18, 1980, Jason Segel started making movies as a teenager. He discovered acting in high school and landed his first television role at the age of 18. After two failed series, Segel scored a hit with How I Met Your Mother in 2005. He has also enjoyed success on the big screen with such films as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets.
The son of a lawyer, Jason Segel grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles. He was raised Jewish, but he attended a Christian elementary school. There Segel was sometimes picked on by his classmates for his religion. He also started to stand out in other ways. By the age of 12, Segel had reached his full height, standing 6' 4". He later described himself as "this weird, gangly kid who was like ET trying to figure out how his limbs worked."
As a teenager, Segel started making movies on his own and developed a passion for puppets. The puppets "were a really convenient solution to not knowing any actors," he later explained. Attending the prestigious Harvard-Westlake School, Segel used his substantial height to his advantage, becoming a member of the basketball team. He discovered acting in his senior year and was spotted by a film casting executive during a performance.
Instead of going to college, Segel decided to pursue a career as an actor. He was only 18 years old when he auditioned for writer-director Judd Apatow. Apatow cast Segel in a new television series called Freaks and Geeks, a 1980s high school dramatic comedy. The show, which also featured James Franco, Seth Rogen and Linda Cardellini, lasted only a season, but it later developed a strong cult following.
Segel paired up again with Apatow for his new college sitcom Undeclared in 2001, but the show didn't attract enough of an audience to stay on the air. For a time, Segel floundered professionally before landing a leading role in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. The series, which followed a group of five friends, slowly and steadily grew in popularity following its debut in 2005. Segel played Marshall Eriksen, an earnest lawyer from the Midwest, with Alyson Hannigan starring as his wife, Lily. Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris rounded out the cast.
With the success of How I Met Your Mother, Segel finally got the green light for his own film project. He wrote and starred in the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, about a songwriter who runs into his famous ex-girlfriend (Kristen Bell) and her new boyfriend (Russell Brand) in Hawaii. Showing no reservations, Segel filmed the pivotal breakup scene completely naked. The movie helped advance his film career.
Recent Television and Films
In demand, Segel balanced his How I Met Your Mother television role with numerous other projects. He co-starred with Paul Rudd in the 2009 comedy I Love You, Man and with Jack Black in 2010's Gulliver's Travels. That same year, Segel voiced a supervillain in the animated hit Despicable Me.
Segel shared the screen with Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake in the 2011 comedy Bad Teacher. Later that year, he brought a pet project to life. Segel helped revive the Muppets film franchise with the musical comedy The Muppets. A longtime fan of Jim Henson's famous puppets, he starred in the movie and co-wrote its screenplay with Nicholas Stoller. Segel also served as a producer on the movie.
Continuing to write and produce his own material, Segel in 2012 starred with Emily Blunt in The Five-Year Engagement, and also appeared in the Judd Apatow film This Is Forty with Megan Fox, Leslie Mann and Melissa McCarthy. In 2014, he reunited with Diaz for the raunchy comedy Sex Tape.
Segel broke new ground with his portrayal of author David Foster Wallace in the 2015 film The End of the Tour. Displaying a complex, conflicted persona unseen in earlier screen roles, the erstwhile funnyman found himself the subject of serious Oscar buzz upon the film's release.
Segel lives in Los Angeles. He dated his former Freaks and Geeks co-star Linda Cardellini for five years.
A minister in the non-denominational Universal Life Church, Segel officiated a wedding on The Tonight Show in 2010.
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