Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Nope, not gonna mention the kid doc by name for another 700 words or so. But boy, has Neil Patrick Harris
accomplished the almost-impossible, creating a character on CBS' hit freshman laffer How I Met Your Mother
(Mondays at 8:30 pm/ET) so fresh and different that we almost forget his original TV incarnation. (Of course, that little escapade with Harold & Kumar
helped the cause.) Just how much does the actor love creating Barney trouble? Here's what he had to tell TVGuide.com.
TVGuide.com: When I interviewed As the World Turns' Terri Colombino née Conn years ago, she mentioned that you were her prom date. What do you remember about that night?
Neil Patrick Harris: She's married now? Oh, I remember lots. That was really fun. We had a very good time.
TVGuide.com: Just how big and poofy was her dress?
Harris: [Laughs] I don't think it was a giant fluffy dress. It was 1991, so it wasn't cheesy '80s [fashion].
TVGuide.com: Having grown up in the Albuquerque area, I must ask: How many times have you dragged yourself to the annual International Balloon Fiesta?
Harris: Only twice. You need to get there by 5 am, and it's brutally cold, far too frigid to make it a yearly thing. But it is something everybody must see.
TVGuide.com: A year ago, were you prepared for How I Met Your Mother to be the show that would reclaim your place on the prime-time map?
Harris: That was certainly the big goal. I had low expectations, considering the success of television, because the odds are really stacked against you. I didn't think it would even get past the pilot stage.
TVGuide.com: Quality does not necessarily mean longevity.
Harris: Oh, my gosh, there are hundreds of reasons why it might not work — it could be a bad time slot, it could be a change in the network brass, it could be the end of someone's contract with a network.... But all of a sudden it was on a strong night in a good time slot up against not a lot of other things, so it took off in a great way. I can't wait to see what happens in Season 2.
TVGuide.com: Are you hoping for, dare I say it, growth for Barney?
Harris: Growth.... [Scoffs] To be honest, not really. I feel like Barney's the least full-formed of the gang, but that's with reason. The more you start learning about his family and his past and what really upsets him and stuff, then it's thirtysomething.
TVGuide.com: You gave me a scare with that Thanksgiving episode, thinking that Barney might really be some soup-kitchen saint.
Harris: Exactly. I think they're trying to never have you know exactly what he does at his work, too, which is pretty funny. I hope there's always some mystery, and he can just be the sort of chauvinist that he is now.
TVGuide.com: What's your favorite episode to date?
Harris: I really like the one where you found out who Barney was and how he became the Barney that he is, because I got to really behave like a tool, with a long ponytail, and sing songs and cry, which is always incredibly embarrassing and demoralizing. But that's what I do — I'm a jester these days. And there's one called "The Pineapple Incident" that I like. I like the shows where it starts off as one story and then kind of backtracks and you see the same thing again through a different character's eyes. I like when the structure doesn't feel like a regular sitcom.
TVGuide.com: Is it funny to have this language of lingo — Barneyisms — created by your alter ego?
Harris: It is pretty funny. I love that he commits himself to catchphrases even if they're not very good. There's an episode where he just kept saying "legendary" over and over, and at one point he said, "It's going to be legen — wait for it, and I hope you're not lactose-intolerant because the last part of that word is — dary."
TVGuide.com: When Barney "suits up," what labels are they putting you in?
Harris: Hugo Boss is nice, and I have to say that Dolce & Gabbana is really nice. When you're dealing with the suits — and we talked about this a lot — I didn't want them to be period-specific. Because let's say we go into syndication, I didn't want to look back at my suits as if they're bad Cosby sweaters. I prefer slender suits that are sort of Rat Pack-y and timeless.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about playing "Loverboy" on Howard Stern's Son of the Beach. Something you did to make the folks proud?
Harris: [Laughs] Actually, I'm friendly with David Arquette, and he was doing that episode, so they asked if I wanted to do it. I watched some episodes and they were funny — incredibly lowbrow, but unashamedly so. I thought it was fun. And I got to make out with that girl [Jaime Bergman] who was married to David Boreanaz. Anytime you can hook up with a Playboy Playmate, I really think you should.
TVGuide.com: OK, time to hit this topic, if only for my own selfish reasons. I had the biggest crush on Wanda. What happened to her?
Harris: That's an interesting question, because I was looking around on Amazon.com to see when Season 4 of Doogie Howser comes out, and you can click on cast names to see what else they've done. I clicked on Lisa Dean Ryan and there was some movie she had done in, like, 2001, and that was the last thing. I lost track of her.
TVGuide.com: Vinnie, of course, grew up to be on The Sopranos. But I think we all saw that coming.
Harris: [Laughs] Yeah, that was in the stars. With an accent like that, how can you not be on The Sopranos? He's so good on that. I'm so happy that Max [Casella] is doing that. It's perfect for him.
TVGuide.com: You did an L.A. production of Rent. Ever get a chance to see the movie?
Harris: I did. I auditioned for it, so.... It felt like it was documenting and preserving the original show, and you can't knock that. But I don't know about that opening scene, where everyone on the Lower East Side is throwing out burning pieces of paper. That seemed a little bit like Newsies.
TVGuide.com: Any new stage shows you're liking?
Harris: I went to that cool, creepy [production of] Sweeney Todd where they all play their own instruments. That will make any actor feel like they're not very talented. And I just saw Jersey Boys, which has a strong cast and the book is really good. I had a kickass time at that. But how do they sing those Frankie Valli songs, falsetto, eight times a week? Can't they Milli Vanilli that?
TVGuide.com: What are your plans for hiatus?
Harris: I'm doing a play at the Geffen [Playhouse in L.A.] called All My Sons. I'm doing incredibly heavyweight tragedy for six, seven weeks, sobbing myself to the bar every night. You should come see this play — it will rip your heart out and shove it down your throat. Then make you spit it out and eat it.
TVGuide.com: What say we work musical theater into Barney's story line?
Harris: [Laughs] I'd love to do a big musical episode of How I Met Your Mother. Alyson Hannigan did it on Buffy, and Jason [Segel] can sing.... Cobie Smulders is taking voice lessons, I know.
TVGuide.com: You need to make that happen. It's going to be a thing, I tell you.
Harris: It's going to be legen — jump the shark — dary.