SI.com: So, I read that you used to be quite the basketball player back in the day.
Segel: I got a state championship, as a matter of fact. It's just a fond memory of when I was in shape.
SI.com: And is it true that you used to be called "Dr. Dunk?"
Segel: Yeah, it was such a terrible nickname. I competed in a national dunk contest and I finished second to Tim Thomas, or maybe KevinFreeman. And so then the newspaper called me Dr. Dunk, and the next thing I knew, I was Dr. Dunk.
SI.com: Why Dr. Dunk and not Mr. Dunk?
Segel: Well, it's obvious. It's because I operate. [laughs]
SI.com: What kind of dunk did you do to place second?
Segel: It was three dunks. I did one where I lobbed it to myself and did a reverse. And I attempted the 360, but it was a narrow miss. And then another where I pulled my jersey over my head and dunked, which seemed cool, but I could totally see through my jersey. It was a black jersey, too, but I could see right through it.
SI.com: See, now, I'm going to have to expose you as the dunking fraud that you are.
Segel: Absolutely. I'm going to lose my medical license.
SI.com: So are you still a big basketball fan then?
Segel: I am. Most of my family is from Boston, and we're the one satellite family from Los Angeles. My brother lives in Boston now, for example, and I've got, like, 15 family members strong in Boston.
SI.com: Celtics or Lakers then?
Segel: Lakers, but I have a great affinity for the Celtics. If the Lakers aren't in the playoffs and the Celtics are, then I'm a Celtics fan. The '80s were just the greatest family rivalry time, even though I was so young. And then last year, it was unbelievable. I stuck with the Lakers, but there were some really nasty texts going back and forth.
SI.com: Do you have advice for people who have intra-family sports rivalries?
Segel: Yes. Basketball is more important than family. If it comes down to it, you gotta choose your team. You know, you can get another mother or father. But you can't get another basketball team.
SI.com: Are your parents Lakers fans?
Segel: My father is a Celtics fan.
SI.com: So, it's, 'Sorry, Dad. I think I'm going to have to trade you. But your pro-rated salary's gonna fit in nicely under the other family's salary cap ...'
Segel: Yeah, totally. Exactly.
SI.com: Do you get to catch a lot of Lakers games then?
Segel: Yeah. When I was pursuing Gulliver's Travels, there was a moment before I had officially gotten the offer, where the studio was considering many different people. And the producer really wanted me to do the part. So we had to woo the studio a little bit. The head of my agency has courtside seats and he invited the head of the studio to come to the basketball game. And what he didn't tell him was that he also invited me. My job was to sort of try and buddy-up with the head of the studio.
So we get there and we're sitting, and immediately, the head of the studio sees what's going on and you can tell he's just like, 'Oh, god.' And you know, it's going OK, but it's really awkward. It's like being set up on a blind date. And so I'm sitting there and thinking, 'Oh, this is not going well,' when all of a sudden, Kobe Bryant saw me. And he walked over and he goes, "Oh, [snap]. You're a funny [expletive].' He goes, 'Ay, you know Sasha Vujacic? Does he look like Aldous Snow [from Forgetting Sarah Marshall] or what?"
And then he gave me a high-five and walked back onto the basketball court. And the offer came in the next day.
SI.com: Had you ever met Kobe Bryant before that?
Segel: I had never, ever met Kobe Bryant, but I can officially thank Kobe Bryant for getting me my part in Gulliver's Travels.
SI.com: Who are you in the movie?
Segel: I'm playing Horatio, Gulliver's Lilliputian buddy, which is also hilarious because I'm gigantic. I'm 6-foot-4 and they're shrinking me down to 6 inches tall.
SI.com: That's pretty ironic.
Segel: Yeah, you know, I've always been called an oaf ... but when you're 6-4, anyone under 6 feet looks exactly the same height. I cannot discriminate between 5-8 and 5 feet. I have no idea. All I can see is the top of your head. I can tell you what the top of your head looks like.