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Neil Patrick Harris Talks 'Glee,' 'Dr. Horrible,' 'Harold and Kumar'

by Bryan Reesman, posted Jul 2nd 2010 12:00PM
Neil Patrick HarrisNeil Patrick Harris is one of the busiest actors in show business these days.

Between TV, awards shows and movies, he's got a full plate. His hit show 'How I Met Your Mother' returns for a sixth season this fall, and he has four movies coming out over the next year.

While he was in New York wrapping up his work on the forthcoming 'Smurfs' movie, Harris sat down with TV Squad to chat about his Oscars stint, a possible sequel to Joss Whedon's Emmy-winning 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,' his recent appearance on 'Glee' and the new 'Harold and Kumar' movie. To quote one of his recent tweets, for the actor, life does not suck.

Have you thought about whether you're going to be fitted for your Smurf action figure?
I haven't even thought about that. I have to say that some company has made a Dr. Horrible action figure, like a limited edition one, and I bought five of them because I was so thrilled. One of those is on my desk, so I'm a happy man.

Did they know that they were selling five Dr. Horribles to Dr. Horrible?
I filled out the thing on the Internet with my name.

Maybe they figured it wasn't the same Neil Patrick Harris?
I didn't use Patrick. That'll throw 'em off.

Dr. Horrible Sing a Long BlogWere you surprised at the success of 'Dr. Horrible'?
No, I'm not surprised, I'm thrilled. We all thought it was amazingly cool as we were making it, and then as we were learning the songs to lip-synch, I just kept marveling at how well they were written. I don't want to sound too gushy, but it was during a writers' strike where we all had a point to prove, no one more than Joss, and I think that the cast he amassed had a uniquely cohesive sensibility. While we were doing it we thought we could do it again.

What was your favorite 'Dr. Horrible' moment?
Being on the Universal back lot filming those scenes was pretty fun. Nathan Fillion's a hoot.

What about the follow-up to 'Dr. Horrible'? Do you think it will happen?
I hope so. Everyone's awfully busy these days. There is no strike on, hence we all have jobs. Nathan is 'Castle'-ing it up like a champ, and I'm doing 'How I Met Your Mother'. In our off time we are all scrambling for something to go on; to get the finances, the script, the songs and Joss altogether at the same time may take [time].

Is there going to be a third 'Harold and Kumar' movie?

They started filming already. It's called 'A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas.' It's in 3-D, and they're filming in Detroit. I'm not dead in the third one.

How are you going to explain that?
You saw me get shot [in the last movie], and at the end of the credits I arose, so I was clearly not dead. All may or probably won't be explained. There's a new director on board, and he's great. We're doing a giant holiday TV special Christmas medley that I help [out on], so there may be singing and dancing in 'Harold and Kumar.' He's very enthusiastic towards Busby Berkeley.

You have so many different projects going on now.
I'm just so amazed and lucky that things keep slotting in as they do. Things have been very fortunate the last couple of years, to an extreme, but if this movie ['Smurfs'] were happening a month later, I wouldn't have been able to do it because it would have overlapped with 'How I Met Your Mother,' and if this movie had gone on another week I wouldn't have been able to do 'Harold and Kumar' because I had to slot that in. It's all been circumstantial and wonderful.

Having shot in the New York area for this movie, have Broadway producers been coming up to you and offering you musicals?
No. To do a musical would take a year. To do an original show you have to do four weeks of rehearsals, three weeks of previews, then open it. Then they need to recoup their investment, so they need you for at least six or seven months. Until 'HIMYM' reveals the mother, I won't sing with Julie Taymor.

You have been able to bring your singing and dancing to a lot of your projects. Do you think that your being involved in these projects inspires them to use you that way?

I don't know. I enjoy singing, and maybe because the way that the pendulum has shifted towards the acceptance of song and dance in things, then it's encouraging more people to think that it's a viable option for an episode or a show or a movie. Maybe I'm on the shorter list of people that they think would want to do that. The award show things have been hilariously rewarding because it's expected in that sense. You have three options as the host of an award show: You can do a lot of jokes at the people who are around you, you can be green screened into the scenes of the current crop of shows like Billy Crystal did so well or you can sing a song.

Neil Patrick Harris OscarsDid the Oscars approach you about doing a song?

That was supposed to be a duet with Marty Short, and we were supposed to be the entire act. Everyone is so stiff and nervous at the Oscars because they've done the gamut of press before, and they're finally sitting down and all might win and are all super nervous, so we wanted to do a vaudevillian act before Alec [Baldwin] and Steve [Martin] came down so they were relaxed enough to laugh at their jokes and have a good time. Then Marty had a personal issue and had to leave a week before, so then we were scrambling about what to do. I rehearsed it as a solo and also as if he was going to come back, and he ended up not being able to, so that duet became a random solo. It was strange and random and fun.

Did you ask Joss Whedon to put you in the 'Avengers' movie?
That would be cool. I'd love to. I have April through August off, that's it, so if something swings in a different month ... I also want to start angling into directing stuff, which then slots into that same four month window, so we'll see what happens.

How do you plan to start getting into directing?
I'm directing 'How I Met Your Mother' this year. I'm directing 'Rent' at the Hollywood Bowl in the beginning of August with a great cast. You just have to take baby steps, gain confidence with people and hopefully get a small to medium-sized movie made that is financially successful.

Did you enjoy your appearance on 'Glee'? Would you go back for another episode?
'Glee' was great. It was super fun. It was a lot of work, and I didn't expect that when I went and did it. I was just a fan of the show, and you think it is going to be like hopping into 'Up With People' or something. You just open the door, there's bright lights and everyone's happy and singing and dancing, but they work really, really hard. I've said before in the press that it was like factory work, which I regret saying because it makes me seem like I'm saying something derogatory about them. It's factory work in that they have to execute such a high caliber of a show every week, and that includes six songs a show now, plus they have to do the voice-overs and records for those the week before. They have to do the choreography and learn it the week before.
Neil Patrick Harris, Glee
So when you're there, it's a giant monster of a show. It was a lot of work. I was glad that Joss was directing [that episode] because I worked with him once before, so I had something to latch onto because there was a lot of rehearsing, then everyone splits to go off to do interviews and dancing and rehearsing. Then they're ready and do it. I think they would have me back. I don't think I would be able to go back to do it again. It would be fun to do, but those networks like to keep their actors on the same network.

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His husband's name is David Burtka and he's a chef (though he has guest starred on "Mother" as Lily's ex-boyfriend Scooter).

July 03 2010 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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