Jason Segel to star in David Foster Wallace biopic

Actor Jason Segel poses for a photo at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles.
Actor Jason Segel poses for a photo at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Jason Segel, who has made a career out of playing adorable goofy guys, will portray David Foster Wallace in an upcoming biopic, The Wrap reports.

Wallace was the author of the monumental novel “Infinite Jest” and has been described by The Times’ David L. Ulin as “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years.”

Segel is certainly talented, as evidenced by his performances in “The Muppets,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Freaks and Geeks” and his other projects. But do his comedic skills really suit the brilliant writer?

Maybe they do -- I never met Wallace. Maybe he was a funny guy.


Or maybe that’s how David Lipsky saw him. The film is based on Lipsky’s book “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” published in 2010. The book was taken from transcripts of five days Lipsky spent on the road with Wallace during his 1996 book tour.

The book has a somewhat unusual history: Lipsky’s trip was for a Rolling Stone article that didn’t run as intended in the magazine. After Wallace’s 2008 suicide, the article was revived and published, then expanded into the book.

Jesse Eisenberg will play Lipsky in the film, to be titled “The End of the Tour.”

There is a more traditional biography of Wallace, “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story” by D.T. Max, which evolved out of a New Yorker article written and published after Wallace’s death. Max detailed Wallace’s severe depression, which had been treated with various drugs and even electroshock therapy, to intermittent success.

The rights to film Wallace’s own works have been carefully guarded. There has been just one film made from one of his works, “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” a strong directorial debut from John Krasinski (another actor who is often cast as the adorable goofy guy).

Since “The End of the Tour” is taken from Lipsky’s book, it doesn’t need permission from Wallace’s estate. Production is tentatively slated to begin in February or March of 2014.


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