Jason Segel only met Kobe Bryant once, but he remembers it “very vividly.” As he told Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night, the legendary late Lakers star inadvertently helped him land a film role at a time he wasn’t well known.
At the time, Segel had just made 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and was not a studio head’s first pick for an upcoming movie. His agent had arranged for Segel to sit next to the unnamed film executive at a Lakers game by separately handing them tickets for adjoining seats, in the “crazy story” he told Kimmel, which starts at 9:16 in the clip from Thursday’s episode.
“He had no idea who I was,” said Segel of the lukewarm exec. ‘I don’t think he even saw [‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’].”
That all changed when Bryant spotted him and raced over. “[Kobe] ran over and gave me a hug and he said, ‘You’re a funny motherf—er!’ and then he went back and started playing basketball. I got the job the next day,” Segel said.
The kicker? The movie, which the actor didn’t identify, “ended up not being very good.” And, Segel later learned, Bryant may have mistaken him for fellow comedian Seth Rogen.
Segel, a lifelong Lakers fan who “grew up in the Kobe-Shaq Era,” plays former coach Paul Westhead in HBO’s series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.”