Being nice to your neighbors is always important, we’re told.
But it’s especially important if your neighbor is Hollywood’s all-time box-office champion. That sort of explains why Harrison Ford has a supporting role (ahown here)n in “Shrinking,” the witty new Apple TV+ show that debuts Jan. 27.
“Harrison’s my neighbor and so I knew him a little bit …. He’s a good dude,” Bill Lawrence told the Television Critics Association, sounding fairly casual about living near Han Solo and Indiana Jones.
Lawrence has already led “Scrubs,” “Cougar Town,” “Ted Lasso” and more; now he’d linked with Jason Segel and Brett Goldstein, to write a comedy/drama about Jimmyh, a therapist whose life has crumbled.
“Rock-bottom is … very hopeful, because there’s no place to go but up,” said Segel, who stars. “Grown-ups (being) desperate are really funny.”
Lawrence wanted his neighbor, 80 – who was busy making an Indiana Jones film in London – to play Jimmy’s boss and mentor. He sent the pilot script.
The response? “He’s like, ‘I like it. Am I going to be in the next one more?’”
Lawrence promised he would and said Segel would star. “He goes, ‘Who’s Jason Segel?’”
At that point, Lawrence could have sent Ford episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” or “Muppet Movie” or such. Instead, he sent “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – a movie that Segel wrote and starred in, including a moment of full-frontal nudity.
Ford’s response, Lawrence said, was a complimentary note that said, “nice nude body.”
Except, Segel corrects, “it doesn’t say ‘nude body.’”
Whatever anatomical phrase it used, the note is now framed on a wall at Segel’s home.
The good-neighbor policy soon paid off. For the second episode, the show needed to re-shoot a scene with Ford on the phone. The final version was shot in Lawrence’s back yard.
“The crew call was 8:30,” Lawrence said. “At 8 o’clock, my doorbell rang. It was Harrison …. He was like, ‘Give me a cup of coffee.’”
And afterward? “He’s like, ‘Is it possible that we shoot all my stuff here?’”
Not really. “Shrinking” sprawls all over Jimmy’s world, as he starts getting involved in his patients’ lives. Co-stars include Christa Miller (Lawrence’s wife) as a semi-tolerant neighbor, Luke Tennie as a client with anger issues, Lukita Maxwell as the daughter of Jimmy and his late wife and Jessica Williams (“The Daily Show”) as a fellow therapist
Williams said a meeting with one of the writers was a pleasant surprise. He “said, ‘We only have the first couple of episodes written and we want to figure her out around you — which – especially as a Black actress, six feet tall – that’s like a gift.”
And yes, Segel is a fan of therapy.
“I had an ex-girlfriend who kept saying, ‘You should go to therapy,’” he recalled.
“And all I heard in my head was like she was criticizing me. And then I went to therapy and I was like, ‘Oh, she loved me. She just wants me to be happy.’”
Now his character helps others find their happiness His own is more elusive.