"It's very tricky for men to make friends with strangers," says actor and writer Jason Segel. "I think women have it a lot easier. You guys can, like, walk into a women's restroom and come out with a new best friend. But for men, it's just — it's not the same thing."
Of course in his recent movie I Love You, Man, Segel's character Sydney Fife does do almost that. He strikes up a conversation with Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) at a real-estate open house, placing a bet about — of all things — whether a guy who's touring the property needs to pass gas. And from there, the womanizing Fife and the sensitive, woman-attuned Klaven become best friends, unlikely as it seems.
Segel tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross that unlike some of his buddy-comedy roles — the needy Peter Bretter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall comes to mind — "[Fife's] got this attitude that I don't possess in life, which is this is who I am, take it or leave it. Which is what really drew me to playing that part."
Fresh Air talks to Segel about why the so-called "bromance" movie has recently become so popular, about how he mortified his brother at summer camp and his mother at a movie screening, and about his work on I Love You, Man and other comedies — learning, among other things, the story behind his full-frontal appearance in the opening scenes of Sarah Marshall.
"That was taken from the pages of real life," Segel acknowledges. "I once got dumped while I was naked, but she asked me to put clothes on during this real breakup — my real life breakup."
It was a tough moment, Segel says: "Picking out an outfit for the second half of a breakup is like the hardest outfit you'll ever pick out in your life."
Segel got his start as the teen-drummer wannabe in the TV series Freaks & Geeks and currently co-stars in the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
This interview was originally broadcast in March 2009.