Interview: Jason Segel Talks The Discovery, Robert Redford and Dramatic Roles.

Jason Segel talks The Discovery, Robert Redford, and Dramatic Roles.

The Discovery hits Netflix on March 31st and has been the talk of the town at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The Discovery is a movie that personally blew me away, which you can read in my formal review here. This small little Indie sci-fi drama about characters first, with the afterlife being a backdrop is one that’ll strike up a conversation with film-buffs and audiences alike. Charlie McDowell directs this gem grounded in reality, with real human emotion from its cast.

The main protagonist in The Discovery is Jason Segel, who steps out his comedic comfort zone and gives one of the best performances of his career, thus far. I was fortunate enough to talk with both Jason and Charlie about their experience making the film, working with the iconic Robert Redford, and how passionate they both felt about the story itself.

You can listen to the full-length interview in the audio clip below.

Charlie, what do you want audiences to take away from The Discovery? 

Charlie: “I think that we, regarding when we started writing it, for us, it was how do we explore this idea where we go when we die. I never wanted to be a sort of preachy film of, this is what I believe the afterlife is. But more something that would lend itself for people to think while they’re watching the film and brings their life into the idea of where we go when we die and what their belief of the afterlife might be. And so we leave it a little ambiguous regarding the direction that we take it.”

You guys nailed it, because even the discussions I’ve had with people who’ve seen the film, it’s a movie that causes conversation in a good way.

Jason: “I think one of the things I loved when I read the script was that to go off what Charlie was saying, is that it’s a movie that asks as opposed to giving an answer. So, you’re left when you exit the theater; it’s kind of like the function of art, I think, is that you then go with your friends to experience the movie as well and have a conversation which, to me, is cool.”

Charlie: “Yeah. I think, for me, I see every film in the theater and I love all forms of entertainment. But I guess for me as a filmmaker, the thing that I’m just interested in doing is telling stories that hopefully, people can relate and connect to in some way. But ultimately, we’re telling them in a way that hasn’t been done a million times before. And so hopefully it’s making people think as a result.”

Jason, what did you feel like when you were playing this role, what did you want to bring to this character? It seemed like you were the most grounded out of the bunch. And is that something you wanted to bring?

Jason: “I felt like my job was to be a surrogate for the audience. I represent any one of us going through this situation. So yeah, I thought my job was to service Charlie and Justin’s story and take us through it.”

Charlie: “Just to piggyback off of that, for me, what’s so incredible working with Jason is just that he’s an actor who is taking risks regarding the art that he’s doing. But he’s also really helping and servicing the story that we wrote and created, and not a lot of actors do that. A lot of players will focus specifically on their character or their performance in a way that’s like, okay, I could showcase myself individually in this way. And I feel like Jason gave this incredible, subtle performance that was real to help the story and the characters, and less about, okay, I’m gonna showboat myself.”

The little mannerisms, the subtle ones, the human ones that you were giving to Rooney Mara or Robert Redford during certain scenes were so human, it felt like you weren’t acting, which is a compliment.

Jason: “Yeah, it’s the best compliment. I have to say, a lot of my job is taken care of by acting with people like Rooney and Mr. Redford. If you arrive ready to listen and pay attention, then they do take care of half of your job.”

“I felt like my job was to be a surrogate for the audience. I represent any one of us going through this situation.” -Jason Segel

Were you always planning on making this film more grounded than sci-fi?

Charlie: “Yeah, that always feels like something that I can add stylistically regarding how I shoot it or what the production design is. I think if you can ground it and the actors are playing it real and honest, then you can take the idea to a sort of fantastical place. So regarding this film, do I believe that millions of people would commit suicide if the afterlife were proven? It’s possible, but it’s not likely, I would say. But it’s grounded enough in the reality of the story and what we’re exploring that you believe that’s going on. So that’s the focus for us is telling true human character stories, and then the sort of backdrop of the world can be sci-fi. But it’s not the focus of it.”

How was your experience at Sundance premiering this?

Charlie: “I only had one other experience with “The One I Love,” which was such a small kinda little premier that floated under the radar. And this was the complete opposite because one, we’re coming with such a huge cast and incredible actors. But then also, of course, Robert Redford is in our film, and it’s opening weekend. So it was intense, it was incredible, and it was also exhausting and tiring as well. But yeah, it was a lot of emotion, but mostly it was nice to celebrate and hang with my friends and the people that we made this film with.”

Jason, I love seeing you breaking out of comedic roles and doing films like this. You do have a knack for a more grave and nuanced presence on screen.

Jason: “Thanks. You know, it’s part of getting older, I think is always checking in on where you are in your life is a crucial thing to do if you’re gonna try to take this seriously.”

I’ve got one final question for both of you. What is your favorite scene in the movie?

Jason: “Well, mine’s probably the bunk bed scene. Where Rooney and I first kind of open up to each other. It’s just quiet, and you can’t hide in that scene. It’s two people acting, and it’s either going to be believable, or it’s not. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Charlie: “Yeah, that’s the same for me. Regarding the most fun, interesting day, it was the water stuff. Because we were all in it together and it was cold, and so it was fun to do. But the bunk bed scene’s was my favorite in the script; it’s my favorite in the film. I always wanted the beginning of the film up until that scene to feel a little disorienting and almost like what the afterlife might be, and a little disconnected in a certain way. Then the bunk bed scene hits, and it’s two people, it’s two shots, and it’s them connecting really for the first time. I just thought it was such a beautifully acted scene.”

Full Audio Clip Below!

The Discovery will be available on Netflix on March 31st, 2017


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