Jason Segel has stood up and officially thrown his hat into the Oscar ring. His 9.26 interview with the N.Y. Times Oscar-season “bagger” Cara Buckley about his attention-getting performance as the late David Foster Wallace in James Ponsoldt‘s The End of the Tour (A24, 7.31) pretty much constitutes an official announcement. The theme of Segel’s campaign will be one that any working actor can relate to — the occasional need to gather one’s courage in order to stretch and break the mold and defy typecasting.
The End of The Tour‘s Jason Segel.
Segel “had grown weary of rote rom-com roles and was ravenous for change,” Buckley writes. Portraying a much-worshipped writer “was such a U-turn from Mr. Segel’s regular fare [that it] made the part only more tantalizing. ‘I knew I was going to try it, immediately,’ Mr. Segel said in an interview in the lounge of Manhattan’s Bowery Hotel. ‘When you start repeating yourself, it gets boring for everybody.'”
But if Segel and his handlers are smart, they’ll focus on the Best Supporting Actor race rather than Best Actor. The Best Actor situation is already half-locked down at this stage, and there’s just no way in hell that Segel will be able to elbow aside Black Mass‘s Johnny Depp, The Revenant‘s Leonardo DiCaprio, Trumbo‘s Bryan Cranston, Steve Jobs‘ Michael Fassbender, The Danish Girl‘s Eddie Redmayne (that’s five already!) and Snowden‘s (or The Walk‘s) Joseph Gordon Levitt (six!). Not to mention Love & Mercy‘s fully deserving Paul Dano and John Cusack, who’ve been looking at an uphill climb since last June.
Segel’s Wallace can easily be sold as a supporting performance. Jesse Eisenberg‘s David Lipsky is the main protagonist, the instigator, the guy carrying the ball. Wallace is kind of “the ball” in a sense.
On top of which Segel, Ponsoldt and A24 will be facing little pockets of pushback over the “hulking genius behemoth” aspect of his performance. Some kind of argumentative assessment by Glenn Kenny, who personally knew and worked with Wallace back in the ’90s, will be appearing two or three days from now in The Guardian.