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How I Met Star Is in a Mother's Daze

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, TVGuide.com 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.) TVGuide.com: I've gotta tell you up front, man: Each week it unnerves me how much you look like Jimmy Fallon

Matt Webb Mitovich

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, TVGuide.com 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.)

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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."

TVGuide.com: 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]

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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?"

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: You replaced Jason Biggs, opposite Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone?
Radnor: [Correcting my pronunciation] That's "A-lee-cee-a."

TVGuide.com: 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.

TVGuide.com: 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.