Josh Radnor and Britney Spears, <EM>How I Met Your Mother</EM> Josh Radnor and Britney Spears, How I Met Your Mother

It's been quite a week for struggling cult favorite How I Met Your Mother (Mondays on CBS at 8:30 pm/ET). First it was revealed that Ted's (Josh Radnor) dermatologist crush, Stella, would be played in a multi-episode arc by Alicia Silverstone, leading a lot of fans to theorize that she was indeed the future Mrs. Mosby. Then later in the week we learned that Stella would instead be played by Scrubs' Sarah Chalke, and, in a casting shocker that was truly legendary, one Britney Spears will be playing Stella's Ted-loving assistant, Abby (about which Radnor told us, "The only thing 'scandalous' about all of this is how non-scandalous it is"). Before the first post-strike Mother episode airs tonight, we dialed up Ted Mosby, Architect, himself to see what he had to say about catching "the Barney disease," how Mother has expanded his vocabulary, and when we can expect to see that mysterious yellow umbrella again.    

TVGuide.com: In the episodes we've seen so far this season, Ted is changing, he's becoming more of a player… getting tramp stamps, riding tricycles.
Josh Radnor: You think? Well, everyone evolves, I suppose. [Laughs] In a way there was no way to sustain narratively a guy who's just obsessed with finding a wife… unless he's Amish or something. One of the things I love about the show is that above all it remains committed to a verisimilitude — I'm gonna drop that word on you, I rarely use that many syllables, but I did it — so I think psychologically they were trying to track the arc of this pretty traumatic breakup with Robin. And it's his reaction to the breakup…. Girls cut their hair off and guys ride the tricycle.

TVGuide.com: So it is a reaction, then?
Radnor: I think it is, but I can tell you there's going to be a little course correction in that area. You're not going to be seeing Ted be a rake for much longer. In the episode airing Monday, Marshall gives him a talking-to.

TVGuide.com: Well, Marshall's the man to do it! So the change isn't permanent.
Radnor: No, as much fun as I've had with this little phase of Ted Mosby, I think we've seen the end of it. Because ultimately he's a good guy who functions better in a relationship. He hasn't totally caught the Barney disease.

TVGuide.com: You called Barney a disease.
Radnor: [Laughs] Well, I'm sure he has a few.

TVGuide.com: Have you or any of the cast members been known to suggest ideas for storylines from your own personal experiences?
Radnor: Yeah, I actually asked them if I could keep my beard for a little while because I always grow a beard over hiatus, and Carter [Bays] was like, "A breakup beard, that's great! " And then they wrote all these hilarious jokes about me coming back in these different patterns of facial hair. They do pick up on little quirks — like Jason Segel does actually sing songs about himself a lot, although I hope that I don't correct people that much. [Laughs] There is a kind of give and take with the writers…. It becomes symbiotic.

TVGuide.com: Symbiotic!
Radnor: [Laughs] You know, I’ve noticed that we do a HIMYM vocab word of the week. We always seem to drop some word that's not commonly used… like the word "ineffable," and then we explain what it means.

TVGuide.com: Speaking of your beard, I saw you in the short "The Negotiating Table" during the strike — how did you get involved in that?
Radnor: Oh, with Seth MacFarlane, yeah. Nick [Kroll] and I had done a parody on Family Guy called "How I Met Your Father," which had us furiously making out with each other… but I knew Seth from that. And I knew Kat [Foster] from my years in New York. But I actually had the beard already, and when Seth MacFarlane saw me the first thing he said was, "You look like someone who could get me some great pot." [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Do you consider HIMYM a bubble show? Do you think the strike had a negative effect?
Radnor: Um, I don't understand your fancy TV terms, "bubble."

TVGuide.com: You understand "verisimilitude" but you don't understand "bubble"?
Radnor: [Laughs] Exactly. I don't know, but I trust that our loyal fans will stage something…. I did hear that we did well in reruns, so I'm not sure [the strike] affected us. But we're a very TiVo'd show, and a very talked-about show, and the people who love the show really love it.

TVGuide.com: A lot of viewers are wondering how it's going to work with the mother — are we going to meet the mother in the final scene of the final episode, or will we have a chance to meet her and watch your courtship and marriage?
Radnor: That's an option, sure. I'm not in the writers' room and I'm not sure they've fully cracked the meet-the-mother story themselves…. I think they're as taken with the mystery of it as everyone else is. They'll find the mother when it's time to find the mother — or when Les Moonves says, "It's time to find the mother." [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: So then they have to have someone set up as an option in that situation.
Radnor: Well, the very last scene of the very last episode could be a point-of-view shot, and Ted just opens the door and there she is.

TVGuide.com: Do you have a preference between the meet-the-mother/end-scene scenario, or the watch-your-courtship scenario?
Radnor: I don't know that I'd want to go through a wedding, but maybe that's my own fears coming through. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Ah, Barney!
Radnor: [Laughs] No, it's not that bad, trust me.

TVGuide.com: What about Stella, does she have a chance of wedding Ted?
Radnor: You know, anything's possible. I'm not being evasive, I have no idea. I could speculate, but my guess would be as good as yours.

TVGuide.com: Hmmm, does Stella own a yellow umbrella, by any chance?
Radnor: The yellow umbrella comes back in Monday's episode, actually.

TVGuide.com: Oh, really! And what about the slapbet, will there be any slapping?
Radnor: Slapping? I don't know… but I love a good slap. [Laughs]

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