The real reason you don't hear from Jason Segel anymore

For a few years, it seemed like How I Met Your Mother (2005-14) star Jason Segel was everywhere…and then, well, he wasn't. What happened? Here are a few explanations for his unusually low profile.

He's not dating another celebrity

Segel made the most headlines when he dated Blue Valentine (2010) actress Michelle Williams from 2012 to 2013. They were adorable together, but the Daily Mail reported that their busy schedules and long distances apart (He was based in Los Angeles; she had a home in Brooklyn) led to their split. At the time of this writing, he's dating a non-celebrity, photographer Alexis Mixter, whom he brought with him to the Golden Globes and the Oscars in 2016.

He got sober

Radar Online reported that Segel entered a treatment program for alcoholism in 2013 after his breakup from Williams. Before he got sober, he was often photographed and videotaped outside Los Angeles nightclubs, and he was once caught on camera, drink in hand, serenading a fan with Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" in 2011. That video went viral, as did rumors of the actor's hard partying.

His TV show ended

When How I Met Your Mother ended its run in March 2014, Segel wasn't on our screens every week. As a result, he also wasn't on our radars. The series' conclusion coincided with Segel getting sober, so we didn't see him in the tabloids anymore either.

He didn't release any work in 2016

Per Segel's IMDb page, 2016 was a quiet year for the actor. He didn't log any acting, producing, or writing projects. In fact, his only appearance was at the Academy Awards, where he presented, and the Independent Spirit Awards, where he was a nominee. Though his role as author David Foster Wallace in the 2015 film The End of the Tour garnered tremendous critical acclaim, the project was a limited release, so not many people got to see him in what may have been his masterpiece.

His major movie flopped

Sex Tape (2014) was supposed to be a blockbuster, but it bombed hard—with both box offices and critics. This may have been particularly damaging to Segel's career (and ego) because he not only starred in the movie but was also a co-writer of the script. It earned only 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with one reviewer griping, "It's strange to watch a comedy full of talented people that does not work from the opening scene. It's like eating food and not tasting anything."

Even though the movie failed as a whole, critics didn't necessarily blame Segel, nor his co-star Cameron Diaz. The Village Voice noted, "Sex Tape is warmer and more amusing than its ads would lead one to believe. In fact, it's almost good enough, leaning a little too hard on the innate likability of stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel." Unfortunately, they weren't likable enough to sell tickets, and in Hollywood, like anywhere else, money talks.

He's not a token anymore

When Segel was heavier, he, like his pal Jonah Hill, was often viewed as a character actor specializing in slightly schlubby guys. Now that he's lean and toned, casting directors may not know what to do with him. He's not Brad Pitt, but he's not Seth Rogen. Since Hollywood tends to deal in stereotypes, a genuinely normal-looking person such as Segel may not have a place in a lot of scripts.

Segel told former Late Show host David Letterman in 2012 that he was forced to lose 35 pounds for The Five Year Engagement (2011). "I was told that it had to be conceivable that Emily Blunt would ever choose me to be her husband," he said (via Us Weekly). In 2013, Segel told Us Weekly his weight loss was a result of "living healthy, exercising, eating right…no more midnight pizzas."

He focused on non-Hollywood projects

In 2013, Segel signed a deal to pen three children's books. The result was the Nightmares! series, which he told The Hollywood Reporter was "a story about learning that we can accomplish anything, as long as we are brave enough to try." Segel said the idea started as a screenplay, but he later adapted it into prose. The series made the bestseller lists, becoming a hit with critics and readers alike.

Riding off of that success, Segel, along with his Nightmares! writing partner, Kristen Miller, inked a "six figure" deal with indie publisher Oneworld for a young adult trilogy called Otherworld. According to The Bookseller, the series is "part 'Tolkienesque' adventure and part sci-fi love story," and is intended to serve as a "cautionary tale" for gamers who get deeply involved in the fantasy worlds of virtual reality. Sounds like heavy stuff. With three weighty tomes to write now on his plate, it's no wonder Segel hasn't been hanging around Hollywood sets lately.

He's not always nice to fans

Radar Online reported that Segel and his Sex Tape (2014) co-star Cameron Diaz were downright mean to fans at the film's New York premiere. A witness dished, "When a 20-something fan asked Jason for a photo as he left the premiere he said 'no' and literally slammed the car door right in the fan's face. People gasped, that's how bad it was." Another insider says, "Cameron was as unfriendly as can be and it was really disappointing. And Jason was downright nasty to his fans." Those are the fans who will keep him relevant, so he and Diaz should probably rachet their attitudes down a few notches.

He relocated to a less photo-friendly locale

As part of his recovery process, Segel said goodbye to the Hollywood lifestyle and moved to a small town with a much smaller pool of paparazzi to catch him on that morning coffee run or out pumping gas. He told late show host Jimmy Fallon in 2015, "I moved out of L.A. a little while ago, and I moved to a small town that's very healthy—they almost shame you into being healthy." He added in a 2017 chat with Vogue that he regarded the decision to ditch LaLaLand and live on an orange grove to a college student being "ready to live off-campus" and "get off the hamster wheel" that is the Hollywood circuit.

That new living location may have provided him some much-needed peace and distance from the Hollywood nightlife scene, but it also means he's not one of those celebs whose A-list status is maintained by constant magazine features.

He's taken himself out of the rat race

Although Segel was a busy bee throughout How I Met Your Mother, simultaneously writing and starring in flicks such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), The Five-Year Engagement, and Sex Tape, after the show came to its finale, he decided to dial down his career momentum because he realized the fast pace wasn't taking him to any supposed finish line any time soon.

In 2015, he appeared on Variety's "Actors on Actors" series with Bryan Cranston and explained that he was in his mid-twenties when he landed How I Met Your Mother, "so these are pretty formative years. And I think that you spend your 20s trying to get somewhere, like I'm on the road to there. I think in my in early 30s, especially as the show was coming to an end…you have this realization that there is no there. This imaginary there just keeps moving equi-distance away from you. So, what I realized three or four years ago is I need to find a model that's sustainable, where I'm not constantly feeling like I have to arrive or I'm in a state of waiting for this thing to happen."

Rather than starring in strings of back-to-back comedies like he'd been doing, Segel began holding out for more serious material that "move[s] him," like what he did in The End of the Tour and his 2017 existential flick The Discovery. That might be a good career move towards getting him some credibility and prestige, but it still means we're seeing a lot of less him on-screen.

Maybe he's trying to avoid this guy?

We've established that it's fairly obvious Segel has voluntarily retreated from the spotlight and is intentionally pursuing headier projects. That said, there could be a more insidious reason for his noticeable Hollywood absence. And that reason could be that Segel is being held internet-hostage by Canadian YouTuber, Noah Maloney a.k.a. Dog Shirt, who has pledged to eat a printed out photo of Segel's face

It's possible Segel is being held internet-hostage by Canadian YouTuber Noah Maloney, a.k.a. Dog Shirt, who has pledged to eat a printed photo of Segel's face every day until the American funnyman eats just one photo of Maloney's face in return. Yes, this is a real thing that is happening.

According to The Daily Dot, Maloney has been at this since February of 2017, and according to his YouTube account— as of this writing—he's still doing it. Maloney even claims he almost died doing the silly stunt but has persevered. The Daily Dot also pointed out that Segel had a great opportunity to address the whole #EatingHisFacePhotoGate during a March 2017 appearance on The Tonight Show, but he didn't, leaving two possible explanations. 1.) He has no idea, as he rightfully shouldn't, that this is going on. 2.) He's icing Maloney out and beating the troll at his own game. Either way, this might be the best little-known internet thing happening right now.

How he can turn it around

Segel could try more independent films and dramas, such as The End of the Tour (2015), to build up his critical credibility. He starred alongside Oscar nominee Rooney Mara in the sci-fi horror flick, The Discovery in 2017, and while that seemed like a good move, the finished product was lackluster. His upcoming turn in the Netflix movie Come Sunday is another positive opportunity. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the real-life drama is "based on a 2005 This American Life segment titled 'Heretics.'" It stars Martin Sheen as televangelist Oral Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a minister "who loses his congregation of thousands following the revelation that he no longer believes in hell."

Segel's biggest box office success was The Muppets (2011). That statistic, combined with his success in writing children's books, suggests that children's fare may be his niche, so he may want to focus on kids' films instead of adult-oriented movies.

If all else fails: Segel said he's open to a How I Met Your Mother reunion, which could give his career at least a temporary adrenaline boost. "I'd be around for whatever those guys wanted to do. It changed my life," he told IndieWire in 2016. "I would leave [the reunion story] to the writers. One of the great things about my relationship to that show is I never got involved in the writing, I just tried to execute what these brilliant writers did, so I would leave that to them, as usual."