Retired at 35
Working hard or hardly working? For at least one of the stars of Retired at 35, it's the latter.
"It is like hardly working. I can tell you that's the best kind!" George Segal tells TVGuide.com. "It's [shows] like this that keep you from even considering retirement."
Retired at 35 star George Segal: Will work for cigars, banjo
On the new TV Land sitcom (premieres Wednesday at 10:30/9:30c), Johnathan McClain stars as David, a 35-year-old stressed-out business drone who abruptly quits his job while visiting his parents, Alan (Segal) and Elaine (Jessica Walter), and subsequently moves in with them. His epiphany inspires his mother to dump Alan, leaving the two men to adjust to their new lives together.
"It's very fish-out-of-water, but very relatable and funny," Segal says, adding that the series is much more grounded in reality than his previous TV venture, Just Shoot Me. "Just Shoot Me could get crazy without explanation. This deals with family problems. You can't suddenly go outside of logic to do surreal things. You have a son and separated parents, and you must address them and the fact that the son is unemployed."
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While both Segal and McClain understand why burned-out David throws in the towel, neither of them has considered retirement or a hiatus from the crapshoot of a career that is acting.
At 40, McClain — a self-professed "journeyman actor" who auditioned to play Buster on Walter's previous show, Arrested Development — says the only time retirement crossed his mind was "when the idea of quitting acting was forced upon me."
"I'll steal a line from Jessica: As an actor, I'm perpetually retired," McClain says. "I've spent half my life unemployed. But I'm sympathetic to the idea. My dad's been working for 45 years. I said to him recently, 'So you thinking about retiring soon?' And he said, 'If I can! I don't know!' I know how hard it is to make things happen for yourself, so I think from that standpoint, it's an interesting subject and a delicate subject. You want to be sympathetic to the fact that people in the real world have to work and make a living."
By contrast, Segal, 76, has been a well-regarded name in the business for six decades following his breakthrough, Oscar-nominated role in 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
"That kicked it all off. All of that stuff was fabulous. I had a great run in the '70s," he says. "What happens is that becomes residual. You've got to show the universe that you're interested in continuing and the universe will respond... And there's one great advantage of being an actor. Besides never knowing what's coming next, it never is a grind. David was in a grind and that's why he quit."
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David may be unemployed in the literal sense, but retirement doesn't mean he can kick back and start living the good life right away. In addition to his parents, he must deal with his best friend, Brandon (Josh McDermitt), and his former flame, Jessica (Ryan Michelle Bathe).
"Where the comedy comes from ... is that he doesn't actually get out of the rat race. He just trades one set of problems for a different set," McClain says. "In New York, he worries about everybody, he tries to make his boss happy. He thinks he's getting away from it, but winds up breaking up his parents and has to take care of a new set of people. He's not working for money, but he's working to care for the people in his life."
But it won't be too long before David re-enters the work force — or tries to at least. Having grown tired of his son's continued presence, Alan forces David to apply for jobs later on this season. Which begs the question: Can one stay retired at 35?
"That's tough. I don't know. David's at a crossroads. In his case and if we're lucky enough to come back, I hope so, so I won't be 'retired' again!" McClain says with a laugh. "George doesn't want to retire and I feel the same way. My dream is to drop dead on a soundstage in the middle of a line. That's my goal. If my death can be captured on camera — that would be ideal for me."