Things are getting heavy on How I Met Your Mother.
The comedy best known for Robin Sparkles, Slapsgiving, and lots and lots of suits has received notice recently for its drama — namely, the surprise death of Marshall's father. Marshall's sudden brush with mortality has already inspired Barney to search for his real father. But how will it affect his best friend, Ted?
"He gets in a new relationship and that encourages his own version of that soul-searching," Josh Radnor told TVGuide.com. "I'm not prepared to say on the record if it's with Zoe or not, but perhaps it will be. Perhaps it won't be."
Speaking at a recent UCLA TFT Master Class session, Radnor is mum on spoilers and future storylines, preferring to focus on the present. In the meantime, this season's surprising dose of gravitas has — ironically — helped breathe new life into the series following a season that creators and executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas called "sitcommy" and "less emotionally interesting."
"It makes it feel more like life which I think is never a bad thing," Radnor says. "But it also confuses people in a sense because in the midst of this hilarious, fairly light-hearted show, it's this reminder: 'Oh yeah, people die.'"
Radnor keeps his distance from Mother — he says he rarely watches the show and never reads reviews or online message boards. However, he says he's seen and heard a notable uptick in positive feedback about Mother's sixth season.
"I do know that the first five or six episodes, I remember saying to the creators, these are good. These are really good," Radnor says. "This season in particular, it feels like all guns are firing."
Mother's creative resurgence also comes at an important creative turning point for Radnor personally. His directorial debut, happythankyoumoreplease, is scheduled for release next month. Radnor also wrote the script and stars in the film, about a group of young New Yorkers struggling with love, friendship and impending adulthood.
"You certainly have an appreciation for every step of the process," Radnor says. "I talk to the [director of photography] on our show because I'm curious what he's up to. The [post-production] guy, we talk about all this stuff. I just have a bigger perspective on what's actually going into [the show]."
Radnor is just the latest How I Met Your Mother cast member to move behind the camera. Aside from his many awards show gigs, Neil Patrick Harris directed a production of Rent for the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Jason Segel is the co-writer, co-director and star of the new Muppets movie, due later this year.
"It's a very creative group in all senses of the word. It's really fun and everyone is really supportive of everyone else's projects," Radnor says. "I think they know that they've got some restless actors on their hands who really love doing the show, but want to do these other things so everyone's been great about that."
So what do all these side projects say about the future of How I Met Your Mother? The cast is contracted for two more seasons, but cast mates like Segel have speculated they won't return after Season 8. Radnor is hesitant to look that far into the future.
"I don't know," he says. "Part of me worries that at a certain point people will be like, 'Ted, come on. It's time. You're a little long in the tooth for this.'"
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.