How Bill Lawrence got Harrison Ford to join his new show

“What’s been amazing for us is that we’ve hired a cast, crew and writers, and when you’re like, ‘Hey, is anyone else dealing with trauma and grief right now?’ – everybody is! It’s a bit of a shitstorm. I got my massage the other night – because I’m a Hollywood elitist – and I asked her where you’re from and she said, “I’m actually from Ukraine, my family is there”. I thought holy shit! I think I’m either writing wisely or occasionally stupidly about how we’re all feeling at this time. And sometimes it starts and sometimes the audience is like, ‘Why don’t you shut up?'”

Ford with creator Bill Lawrence on the set of Shrinking.

Ford with creator Bill Lawrence on the set of Shrinking.Credit:AppleTV+

The universality of trauma is one of them shrinkageAllure: Although the story begins with Jimmy trying to break out of his grief, as the show progresses it becomes clear that everyone around him is dealing with their own pain. From his patients, to his daughter, devastated by the loss of her mother and the distancing of her father, to his colleague going through a divorce, to his neighbor whose exuberant facade hides her desperate struggle against loneliness. And above all, Jimmy’s boss Paul, who, like Goldstein’s father, has Parkinson’s disease and has to cope with the gradual loss of his own independence.

In a major coup for the creators, Harrison Ford plays Paul with gruff humanity. So how do you get Indiana Jones to sign on to your TV show?

“He came in and read, and we thought we’d take a picture of this boy,” says Lawrence. But seriously, “I finally got to the age about 10 years ago where I don’t feel like an idiot when people say no to me. I just keep walking I knew Harrison a little bit because we’re almost neighbors, and I sent him the script and said, ‘Hey man, I think you’d be great at it,’ and he called me and said, ‘Hey, that’s a good one Script. Am I more involved after the pilot?’ And I’m like, ‘Harrison, if you take the role, you’re going to be a ton at it, dude.’ And he’s like, ‘Ah, maybe I’ll do that.’ And I wasn’t prepared for him to say anything but no.


“But having him on set – we celebrated his 80th birthday on set – he’s so inspiring because he’s still wanting to try new shit. He called me and said, ‘I think I’m going to do one of these superhero movies.’ I said why?’ He said, ‘I don’t know because I didn’t do it – I’m doing your show for the same reason.’ Watching him do these things and still take these risks: man, that’s inspiring.”

Ford, like the rest of the cast — as well as Segel, series stars comedian Jessica Williams and sitcom veteran Christa Miller — is hilarious Shrinkage. It’s the clash of raw comedy and crushing sadness that is the show’s trademark, as Lawrence and Goldstein originally planned in this London pub.

shrinkagelike scrubsactually came from Lawrence’s frustration at the over-seriousness of the health professionals portrayed on television, so at odds with what he was seeing in real life.

“I thought, why are all these doctors so serious and stoic and dramatic? My buddy is a doctor and he’s the biggest silly prick in the world,” he says. “I loved as a child MASH because this is about war and everyone dies and it was the funniest show in the world.”

shrinkage might not MASHbut Lawrence may have once again found its way to the kind of show people need right now — one that celebrates the two things that are most human about us: tears and laughter.

shrinkage is January 27 on Apple TV+.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get the watch list delivered every Thursday. How Bill Lawrence got Harrison Ford to join his new show

Jaclyn Diaz

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