Shalom Life | August 04, 2015

Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian)

The comedian sits down with Marc Maron to discuss his childhood

By: Maria Cruz

Published: August 3rd, 2015 in Culture » Film » News

Jason Segel Opens Up About Growing Jewish (and Christian)

Photo: Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in 'The End of the Tour'


In an interview with Marc Maron on his podcast “WTF with Marc Maron”, actor Jason Segel shares his experiences growing up from a family with a Jewish father and a Christian mother.

Segal, who is set to work on the new Lego movie, is a published author, actor, songwriter, and musician admits, despite all his accomplishments today, that he was the “awkward kid” growing up.

“I grew up going to a school called Saint Matthew’s during the day and I would walk to Jewish school at night,” he says. “Your father wanted some Jew in ya,” Maron jokes back but Segel says his parents let him decide. Admitting that it was a stupid decision because, as a child, he didn’t care which religion he would belong to, Segel decided to try and merge the two together.

He also acknowledges the strange spot he was put in being of both Jewish and Christian religions. “At Christian school you’re the Jewish kid and at Hebrew school you’re the Christian kid. I think that’s the nature of groups,” he explains. “And so everyone wants to compartmentalize people and I think I decided at that point, like okay, it’s me versus the world kind of.”

He decided that he would invite his Christian friends to his bar mitzvah. Sounded like a good enough idea until he was asked by his headmaster to stand up in front of the school during Communion and tell the confused Christian kids what a bar mitzvah actually was. “So then you cut to the next day with little 13-year-old Jason Segel standing there like, ‘On Saturday I become a man’ and it’s literally a direct cut to getting punched in the face,” he says. “It’s literally not how you wanna do it.”

Segel faced some flack that day but this is exactly what would lead him into his acting career. His parents stuck him in acting class in an attempt to break out of his shell (I literally would have cried and peed myself from stage fright so good on Segel for not doing that) and meet some new people, which is exactly what wound up happening to him. He compares the people he met to a quote from a beloved Muppets movie, “a bunch of weirdos make a family”.

Segel also mentions that it was in his senior year was that he started auditioning for more parts after acting class. He landed a few roles in indie pieces before he wound up landing a main role on Judd Apatow's short-lived Freaks and Geeks. From there he went on to star in several notable roles such as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother and most recently, as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour. The film has received some criticism from Wallace’s estate as well as some critics who knew the author, but the movie has mostly been generating positive buzz.

The plot revolves heavily around Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s (played by Jesse Eisenberg) transcripts from interviewing Wallace over the last five days of his tour for the mammoth novel of over 1,000 pages, Infinite Jest.

Segel says that he and Eisenberg would spend the majority of the time off set together as well. They would practice scenes together and drive to and from set together. “It was the most intimate experience I’ve ever had acting.”

Listen to the whole podcast here.

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