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Jeff, Who Lives at Home’ explores universe beyond the basement

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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As a mainstream actor with a hit TV series and multiple movies under his belt, it might be hard to think comedic actor Jason Segel could identify with an out-of-work and friendless loser like his character in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” but Segel said he can identify with Jeff’s life from his own experiences.

The Lantern participated in conference calls about the new film with Segel, who stars in “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Muppets,” as well as co-star Ed Helms and producer Mark Duplass.

The film is scheduled to be released Friday.

In Segel’s new movie, he plays 30-year-old Jeff, who, as the title states, lives at home in his mother’s basement and does not have a job or any relationships outside his family.

“I had a really unpleasant out-of-work period from like, 22 to 25 where I was just waiting around,” Segel said. “I think I related back to this time.”

The film takes place over the course of one day, and in that day, Jeff decides to find signs from the universe to figure out his destiny.

Segel said waiting to be cast was similar to Jeff waiting for a sign.

Susan Sarandon plays Jeff’s mother, Sharon. Sarandon being on set proved to be a bigger challenge for Segel than any other scenario thrown at him.

“The hardest thing for me acting-wise in the whole movie is that I’ve had a crush on Susan Sarandon for like such a long time, and so just to act, just to suppress that I was wildly attracted to the woman playing my mom was easily the hardest part of the movie for me,” Segel said.

Helms, who plays Andrew Bernard on “The Office” and Stu in “The Hangover” films, plays Jeff’s brother, Pat.

Helms said his character presents a “chasm.”

“Pat is someone who is very — is desperate to kind of portray himself as someone who really has his s— together, but who doesn’t really have his s— together at all,” Helms said. “And it’s that sort of chasm between what he wants to be and how he wants to present himself and what he really is that kind of defines this guy.”

Mark Duplass, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with his brother, Jay, said this film follows the same theme most of their movies have, where there is no obvious good guy or bad guy. Mark Duplass and his brother also directed the generally acclaimed 2010 film “Cyrus.” Mark Duplass said they are just movies about life and the sad events that might transpire.

“(It’s) what we call tragic comedy, which is that comedy that is rooted in an inherently seemingly-sad situation,” Mark Duplass said. “But for us, at the end of the day, we just love these guys so much and we root for them and we want them to win.”

The Duplass brothers pull a lot of inspiration from documentary films.

“We love these sort of iconic … lovable, loser-person personalities to anchor our films and Jeff … is a character who is an unlikely hero and certainly has that lovable loser quality,” Mark Duplass said.

That regular type of guy is what drew Segel to the role.

“It was so simple, at least in my mind,” Segel said. “You just show up and be really regular, and so I think that’s what really drew me to it and then the story I think is, it’s just unbelievable.”

For Mark Duplass, the highlight of the film was the experience of filming with a bigger budget, which gave him opportunities he hasn’t experienced before.

“I got to shoot car-chase scenes for the first time,” Mark Duplass said. “I got to put a Porsche on the road and drive it fast and shoot it with Jason Segel sticking out of sunroof.”

Segel said his favorite part of filming was that this acting job was almost a vacation compared to other sets he has worked on.

“Previous to this I had been doing a lot of writing and producing of the movies that I was doing and so on this one, I got to just be invited to the party,” Segel said. “And so my job was just to show up and have a good time at the party. I really enjoyed that element of it.”

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