Despite being canceled after just one season, “Freaks and Geeks” went on to have an enduring legacy while introducing a cast who would go on to be incredibly successful in the near future.
But it took time.
Jason Segel broke out on “Freaks and Geeks” as Nick Andopolis, a sweet and goofy, but misguided member of the freaks who dreams of being a professional drummer.
After the show was cancelled in 2000, Segel was in his early 20s and struggled to find work for a few years. “Freaks and Geeks” was such a rewarding experience to Segel that it almost spoiled him, as he thought he would just easily move “onto the next groundbreaking show.”
During a conversation with David Fear at 92nd Street Y, where he was promoting “The End of the Tour,” which opened July 31, he revealed he realised it was going to be much more difficult than that.
“I spent three years out of work. And that’s when I started writing.” Segel told the crowd.
The decision to start writing stemmed from some good advice from “Freaks and Geeks” executive producer Judd Apatow.
“Judd came to me and said, ‘Listen, you’re a weird guy. You need to write your own material. And that was the best advice I ever got, the Albert Brooks model of ‘If you want to do a certain thing, you better make it happen.'” Segel said.
When he first met with the producers of “The End of the Tour,” they asked him why he started writing. He summed it up in a more succinct way: “No one’s knocking on my door asking me to play Captain America.”
Segel took Apatow’s advice to heart.
The first script he ever wrote was “Nightmares!” which never became a movie, but it did become a highly successful horror book for kids. His second screenplay, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” was made into a movie in 2008. The R-rated romantic comedy was a hit, grossing $US105.2 million worldwide. Most importantly, the fact he wrote the screenplay gave him the freedom to create a comedy that showed a more personal side of himself than people might have been used to on, say, “How I Met Your Mother.”
Plus, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” ends with a charming and elaborate Dracula musical starring a bunch of puppets, which is not typically the way most romantic comedies end. This eventually led to Segel receiving more creative clout in Hollywood and then getting to make one of his dreams come true: Bringing the Muppets back to the big screen. Segel wrote and starred in “The Muppets”, which came out in 2011.
So while Segel might never be aksed by Marvel to play Captain America, he can at least say he got to sing alongside Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.