Neil Patrick Harris should be an example to all kid actors. Where many child stars fail so miserably, the 39-year-old actor has managed to resurrect his acting career, lose his Doogie Howser image and score a lead role as Barney in one of TV’s top-rated sitcoms How I Met Your Mother. And he’s been able to do so while maintaining a solid personal life. We chat to Harris about comedy, Barney and being a dad.
You’ve excelled at the comic-villain role in How I Met Your Mother; Barney’s not a villain but not the nice leading man, either.
I enjoy darker sardonic wit more than knock-knock jokes. I spent the first healthy chunk of my career playing all-American, pleasant, average, nice people, so it’s fun to have some complications there.
Are you still having to try and go counter-Doogie?
No, not at all – I mean, I was referring to Doogie Howswer, but then there was a bunch of TV movies I did as well. I was a white, all-American-looking kid, so those were the parts that I got. Now it’s fun to be able to play against that, and then randomly Harold & Kumar [a franchise of films in which Neil Patrick Harris played a fictionalised version of himself] came along. I try hard to diversify my portfolio as best I can.
You tweeted a hilarious video of a woman sobbing uncontrollably while watching the surprise season finale of HIMYM.
Her tears brought me joy. I love it that people can get so emotionally invested in a multi-camera sitcom.
Are your 18-month-old twins speaking their own language yet?
They understand the English language very well but haven’t chosen to speak it yet. There’s lots of gurgling. They speak like I do after a long night at the Magic Castle [an exclusive nightspot in Hollywood].
How’s dad life so far?
My bonding has increased exponentially the older that they’ve gotten. When they’re just crying and you can’t ask them what’s wrong, you have to just try different things. That’s not in my skill set yet.
In 2010, Time magazine said you were one of the 100 most influential people in the world. How’ve you been wielding your influence since then?
Clearly I haven’t – last year and this year, I’m not even on the list. What did I do with all that influence? Now I’m anti-influential. If I answer these questions I sound like I’m snobby and think highly of myself. [Laughs]
How do you think of yourself?
I’m an overworked dad at the moment.
Season seven of How I Met Your Mother is currently airing every Thursday at 8.30pm on OSN Comedy.