Comedy Impact Report '08: Bigscreen Big Shots

A $63 million domestic gross may be small potatoes in Judd Apatow terms, but it’s a nice start for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” writer-star Jason Segel, transforming the “How I Met Your Mother” cast member into leading-man material.

“It’s funny how quickly things change, because now parts I couldn’t even audition for, people are calling to see if I want them,” says the actor, the latest “Freaks and Geeks” alum to graduate to bigscreen success.

It was on that show that Apatow offered Segel career-changing advice: “Judd told me, ‘The only way you’re going to make it is if you start writing your own material, because you are kind of a weird dude and you’ll have to pave your own way.’ It really turned out to be true.”

Now, studios are eyeing Segel as both a writer and star. Disney tapped him to make the next Muppets film with “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” helmer Nicholas Stoller (“Our idea is to try to bring the franchise back to its early ’80s glory,” Segel says). He’ll appear opposite Paul Rudd in “I Love You, Man” next January and is co-writing “Five-Year Engagement” with Stoller.

“It’s about relationships again,” admits Segel, “because we’re the least masculine people in Hollywood.”

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