Josh Radnor Josh Radnor

Last week CBS honored three of its freshman series with full-season orders. Among the lucky lot was How I Met Your Mother (Mondays at 8:30 pm/ET), a sitcom starring Josh Radnor as Ted, a likable lad whose story of how he came to meet his wife is told in flashbacks narrated by Bob Saget. Thrilled to see a scripted series (and a sitcom no less) score big, begged for a Q&A with Radnor (who, in the interest of full disclosure, shares a name with the Pennsylvania town in which TV Guide was born. But that did not influence us. Honest.) I've gotta tell you up front, man: Each week it unnerves me how much you look like Jimmy Fallon.
Josh Radnor: [Laughs] Yeah, I seem to be getting that a lot. I'm not him. Maybe there's a future story line there: Ted scores a date with a hot girl, but only because she loved the box-office hit Taxi.
Radnor: We all did. They made a John Cusack [comparison] in this last episode, but no Fallon joke. But we'll see. Were you waiting with bated breath when the premiere's ratings came in?
Radnor: You know, this is all so new to me. I did this show [2002's The Court] with Sally Field, and everyone was devastated by the ratings, while I was like, "You know, nine million sounds like a lot of people!" [Laughs] I didn't quite understand it, and I'm still kind of figuring it out. But I always had a quietly good feeling about this show. I wasn't nervous about the ratings. So many new sitcoms have trouble finding an audience. Why do you think Mother succeeded, and has been able to hold onto it?
Radnor: I dunno, [maybe] because they promoted the hell out of it? [Laughs] No, I think it's because it's about young people but it doesn't sound like it was written by 55-year-olds. Thirty-year-old guys created the show, so it feels pretty authentic. And it's not one of those shows that's ironic or cynical — we have that element, where its sincerity is tempered by the Barney character [Neil Patrick Harris] — but for the most part this show wears its heart on its sleeve in a really nice way, not an overly sentimental one. These are characters who really care about something, versus [making] "joke-joke-joke-joke." What'd you think when you first read the pilot script, where it's revealed Robin isn't Ted's future wife?
Radnor: I loved it. Sadly, I think Cobe [Smulders] and I have great chemistry and we'll see how much we can explore that. If Cobe was the mom, you don't have a series because the mystery is not there. But if she's not the mom, you have people upset — and some people do seem to be pretty upset about that! [Laughs] Eh, a couple of years in they can turn Robin into a shrew, kill her off and have Ted meet the mother at the funeral.
Radnor: Yeah, let's kill her off! That's a good idea. What would people be surprised to know about Josh Radnor?
Radnor: That he doesn't have cable, and the TV he does have in his bedroom doesn't get CBS. Get out of town!
Radnor: I'm serious. I still watch the show, but I have to go across the street to my friend's. Les Moonves needs to do something about that.
Radnor: I know. But now that we've got the back nine [episodes ordered], my first thought was, "Maybe I should get cable?" And what would we be surprised to learn about one of your cast mates?
Radnor: That Jason [Segel, who plays Marshall] is a great singer-songwriter. That's pretty cool, right? There's an episode where he sang half his dialogue and that was all his stuff. We still sing those songs, because they were actually pretty catchy. So no infighting? You're not beating up Neil Patrick Harris in an alley for getting the juicy zingers?
Radnor: [Laughs] No, I'm happy to let everyone have their day. It's a pretty happy set. I know it sounds political when we say that, but it's true. What was your favorite prime-time guest-starring role?
Radnor: I really loved doing Six Feet Under [in March 2003] because I got to play this '70s hippie dude who didn't look or sound like me at all, and you don't get to do that much as a young actor out here, to really transform. And I loved doing ER — I had a really pleasant time dying of anaphylactic shock. Was there a lot of pressure when you made your Broadway debut in The Graduate?
Radnor: There was, because I was in every scene with two weeks of rehearsal. But I like working pretty fast. I've never had a hard time just taking a script and getting it up quickly. Hmm, that sounded dirty. But this [sitcom] moves pretty fast — you do a table read, you throw it on its feet for two days and then you start shooting. But [The Graduate] felt like being shot out of a cannon. You replaced Jason Biggs, opposite Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone?
Radnor: [Correcting my pronunciation] That's "A-lee-cee-a." Frankly, the women who spell their name that way need to agree on one pronunciation. I know one actress who's like, "It's A-lish-a, as in 'delicious.'"
Radnor: I know! They should bring it up at a meeting. I don't know why it hasn't been settled. Speaking of women, are you hoping your dating life will improve now that you're on a hit show?
Radnor: Hopefully. That's why I'm doing this! I don't have any time right now, I'm exhausted, but that'd be a nice perk, right? We shall see. We shall see.