Yes, Neil Patrick Harris was the boy genius on Doogie Howser, M.D for four seasons. But that was more than a decade ago. Since then, Harris, 30, has taken on an array of anti-Doogie roles, including parts in Starship Troopers and Undercover Brother, as well as the lecherous emcee in Broadway's Cabaret. Starting July 11 at 10 pm, he lends his wholesome vocal cords to Peter Parker in MTV's super-stylized animated version of Spider-Man. Here Harris happily spins a web for us.
TV Guide Online: When superheroes fight, it seems like they're always crying out in pain: Ow! Umph! Does that get tedious to record?
Harris: No, I enjoy that. That's when you get to use your imagination, because we don't see the animation. We just hear the director say, "At line 154, Spidey is electrocuted and shot through the window and falls down the stairs and lands with a grunt. And go!"
TVGO: What do you bring to the Spidey character?
Harris: I wanted it to be faster paced and kind of snappy. I mean, Peter Parker's got a bit of a higher voice than Spider-Man, and he stammers a bit more and stutters. Spider-Man is the antithesis of that. So it's kind of fun to play both extremes, to have Peter unsure of what to say around Mary Jane and then Spidey completely confident in his banter with Dr. Octopus.
TVGO: Were you into superheroes as a kid? Did you have the Underoos?
Harris: (Laughs) Did I have superhero Underoos?... (Pauses) All right! I had some Superman Underoos.
TVGO: Was that so hard?
Harris: No. But it's not Spider-Man, it's Superman.
TVGO: Is that why you were hesitant?
Harris: That was why I was hesitant, yeah.
TVGO: We hear you're into reality shows. Would you do a celebrity Survivor?
Harris: I would love to. They asked me to be a part of Celebrity Mole and I wanted to, but everyone involved in my career [thought] it was not a smart move.
TVGO: For your role in Cabaret, you danced with someone from the audience each night. Any mishaps?
Harris: Yeah. There was a woman that started to come up and then decided that she didn't want to, but she was halfway up. So it turned into a big comedy tug-of-war of me trying to drag her up on stage and her sort of squatting and refusing. And I won. But I made sure to be nice to her for the rest of the show.
TVGO: So let's wreck your wholesome image. How many speeding tickets have you racked up?
Harris: Not many. Maybe three. But it's funny that you mention tickets. I had just arrived back in L.A. for a friend's wedding, and got in my car to go to an In-N-Out Burger. And I rolled the right-hand turn onto the freeway, didn't stop completely. Got on the on-ramp, looked, and there's a cop right behind me. Lights [go on], he pulls me over. Well, it turns out, my tags were expired on my car and had been for three months, so he should have had to impound my car.
Harris: And then it turned out there was a ticket that I received a fix-it ticket months ago that I forgot to pay and my license was suspended. So I just wanted to go get a hamburger, and I ended up almost losing my car and losing my license and having to go to jail.
TVGO: Okay, here's your obligatory Doogie question: Don't you wish the character hadn't been saddled with such a goofball name?
Harris: Yeah, it would have been awesome if it was Thomas Smith, M.D. (Laughs) I wouldn't carry quite such an albatross... I feel for Urkel.