Jason Segel may be known for his comedic role on the CBS series How I Met Your Mother, but he’s about to prove he has serious dramatic acting chops too. The first trailer for Segel’s upcoming film, The End of the Tour, has only just been released, but his portrayal of famed author David Foster Wallace is already earning the actor some early award season buzz.
Written by Donald Margulies and directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), The End of the Tour centers on Wallace’s story, but it’s not exactly your typical biopic. The film follows a five-day period in which Rolling Stone reporter and novelist, David Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg) interviews the acclaimed author, shortly after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking novel, Infinite Jest. As the days go on, the journalist and his subject begin to develop a tenuous yet intense relationship, sharing laughs and revealing frailties without ever knowing how honest the other is actually being. Ironically, the interview never ended up making it to print and the two men did not ever meet again. Wallace committed suicide in 2008 and Lipsky eventually used the hours of audio tapes from the interview to write the 2010 book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip, which serves as inspiration for The End of the Tour
Though photos from the set began circulating last spring, the first trailer gives viewers their first real look at Segel’s insightful and unexpectedly mature turn as Wallace, for which he dons glasses and the author’s signature bandana. “The more people think you’re really great, the bigger the fear of being a fraud is,” his character says in the dialogue-heavy clip, which also shows the two men laughing, talking and hitting up Minnesota’s Mall of America. Meanwhile, Eisenberg’s Lipsky calls the interview the “best conversation I’ve ever had.”
The role is a surprising one for Segel, whom audiences are used to seeing in more lighthearted fare. In addition to starring in the favorite sitcom How I Met Your Mother, he’s also previously appeared in films like 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 2011’s The Muppets, 2012’s The Five-Year Engagement and last year’s box office flop Sex Tape. Though he dabbled in drama with 2011’s Jeff, Who Lives at Home, The End of the Tour marks Segel’s most serious and ambitious role to date and some are already predicting the performance may land the actor a spot on this year’s award season circuit.
It seems as if the film has the critics on its side. The End of the Tour earned overwhelmingly positive reviews after premiering at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and currently holds a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Eisenberg was lauded for his subtle but powerful portrayal and the film overall has been dubbed “thought-provoking” and poignant,” but it’s Segel that’s justly getting the most praise. Critics have labeled the role a “revelation” for the actor, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “easily Segel’s best work since Freaks and Geeks, devastating strictly on its own quiet terms.” With the flick set to hit theaters this summer, audiences can expect the attention surrounding it – and Segel’s individual performance- to only continue to grow.
Regardless of whether The End of the Tour ends up turning Segel into an award contender though, the movie certainly seems to signal a new level for him as an actor. The film is set to hit theaters on July 31.