Jason Segel Talks Challenge of Portraying David Foster Wallace in ‘The End of the Tour’

August 17, 2015

Jason Segel opens up about the challenges of portraying the late author David Foster Wallace in ‘The End of the Tour.’ The movie, directed by James Ponsoldt, is based on the memoir of the same title, written by the Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky who followed the ‘Infinite Jest’ author on a book tour to interview him.

Jason Segel

That interview and that memoir by David Lipsky is a story unto itself. But now, just a few years after the tragic death by suicide of David Foster Wallace, a biopic has hit the big screen and that it yet another story, as is often the case with biopics whose subjects have died fairly recently.

And portraying him is Jason Segel, the 35-year-old actor who rose to fame in the hit sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ And for some, to think of the actor, so closely associated with that series and with comedy in general to portray such a literary giant of our very recent past, may be a stretch.

Evidently with this in mind, Jason Segel opens up about the challenges in his interview with Ryan Seacrest. He says, “I was very self-conscious about it.” He went on to say, “He also wears a bandanna all the time. I didn’t want to show up on set and feel like I was putting on a costume. So I spent a few months — I actually moved out of L.A., found a little town to live in where I can sort of do these things without feeling completely self-conscious and be photographed.”

Segel also said that he had read David Foster Wallace’s 1996 masterpiece, ‘Infinite Jest,’ an expansive and complex novel which clocks in at 1,079 pages. He went on to say, “It’s an intimidating thing playing a real guy because he took his own life in 2008. It’s a sensitive issue and there are people who care about him and love him in varying capacity. So you really want to honor that and make sure that you’re proceeding with a lot of love and empathy.”

The intimidation factor is certainly understandable. Perhaps especially for Segel, being so closely associated with HIMYM and with comedy in general. It would be challenging for any actor to portray the likes of David Foster Wallace, but, as we know the rewards can be immeasurable. Critical acclaim, awards, a potential place in cinematic history. The stakes are high. And when they’re met we all benefit; just think of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s unforgettable portrayal of Truman Capote which won him the Oscar in the 2005 biopic ‘Capote.’

Critics have been universally laudatory, as it’s no small feat for a movie to have an average of 93 percent at Rotten Tomatoes! So we may well see many Oscar nods to follow for Segel, of course, as well as his co-star, Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays the journalist David Lipsky

Listen to the full interview with Jason Segel below, and see ‘The End of the Tour’ trailer video.

Pictures: PR Photos

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