This image released by Gravitas Ventures shows Dakota Johnson, left, and Casey Affleck in a scene from “Our Friend.” (Claire Folger/Gravitas Ventures via AP)
NEW YORK – If his new movie, “ Our Friend, ” makes audiences cry, Jason Segel can sympathize.
He recalls being on an airplane and watching a movie that made him break down so uncontrollably that it got the attention of a woman seated next to him.
“I was weeping, full-on weeping, crying so hard, and this woman couldn’t resist trying to find out what I was crying at. And she, like, peeked over and it was ‘Dreamgirls.’ This grown man, bawling his eyes out to ‘Dreamgirls,'” the actor said, laughing, in a recent interview.
“Our Friend,” premiering Friday in theatres and video on demand platforms, certainly covers emotional territory. Segel plays Dane, the best friend of married couple Matt and Nicole (played by Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson). When Nicole is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Dane moves in with the family to help them during the time she has left.
It’s based on the true story of an experience written about by journalist Matthew Teague in 2015 for Esquire. He wanted to write about what going through a death is really like.
“I felt so unprepared to meet death, even caring for somebody who was dying and that I felt even almost betrayed by the culture. In a way, I feel like we don’t discuss this very openly or very honestly,” said Teague.
Production on the film wrapped before the pandemic but Affleck understands it will strike a chord with viewers about grief and loss.
“I think a lot of movies are probably going to be seen through the lens of the experience that we’ve all shared over the last year, whether or not they were intended to be about those things,” said Affleck.
Johnson hopes the movie will remind others to “feel a bit more grateful and a bit more compassionate with themselves and others.”
From experiencing his own loss, Teague offers advice on what to say to those who know someone who is going through it.
“It’s hard to know what to say. And I think sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there and just offer yourself in some way and to not expect some emotional reaction. Even now, years have passed. I’ll still be in a restaurant and someone will come up and say, you know, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ And I feel like there’s an expectation that I reciprocate emotionally in some way. And so something I learned is just let people grieve on their own terms.”
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This story corrects the spelling of Jason Segel’s last name.