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Illustration: Dan Park

The Hot Seat: Neil Patrick Harris

Smurfs, Muppets and Tony Awards. NPH just can't slow down.


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You're hosting the Tonys this week. Any roles you've seen this season on Broadway that you wish you were playing?
I was so envious of The Book of Mormon cast, because they get to be so irreverent and blue, and so universally loved. That's a once-in-a-lifetime chapter, to be in that show at that time. I'm sure by the time they get to their fifth-replacement stunt casting, maybe I'll get to do it for four and a half weeks. I'll get to do it after John Stamos does it for six months.

Do you have any Broadway plans in your future?
No plans, just yearning. It's just logistically not possible at the moment because...

Because you're working on a Dr. Horrible sequel?
[Laughs] I wish. How I Met Your Mother just takes up a chunk of the year that doesn't allow for any kind of significant run for a new show. And I'm not terribly interested in jumping into an already running show, which would really be my only option. We got to do Company with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center for four performances for their gala this year, and that was as close as I got. Because you really have to dedicate a full year or so to a show. And we have a family now too, so there's just a lot of logistical issues.

That's right. Mazel tov on the twins.
Thank you very much.

So no Dr. Horrible?
Joss [Whedon] is doing the Avengers movie and he's going to be in that world for another half a year, and by that time we're all back on our shows. Hopefully, it'll come together some day. Pray for another writers' strike.

Is there a Tony Award that you wish existed?
I would say Best Show That's Not on Broadway. I'm a rabid, ravenous fan of Sleep No More, which Punchdrunk's doing down at [the McKittrick Hotel]. I wish that things like that could be honored as well, in the same breath as a big Broadway show.

How many times have you seen it?
Just the once, but I want to go back to the late-night events; I think if you went to the 11pm to 2am, that would be really cool. I hear that's the topless show. [Laughs]

Right, they don't give you masks...
They give you something to cover a different head. [Editor's note: Per NPH's very active Twitter feed, it looks like he saw the show again after he spoke to TONY. No reports on whether there was nakedness.]

You're going to be in the next Muppet movie. What was it like working with them?
It was the most fantastic experience. The movie, I can't wait to see. And I'm a big Jason Segel fan, as I'm sure you can understand. But getting to sit there and watch all the people below-frame, curled underneath desks, with those headband-microphone things, looking into little monitors—that was phenomenal. They just stay in character and improv with you, so to sit next to John Krasinski and [puppeteer] Bill Barretta and watch them interact was a definite bucket-listy moment.

Who's your favorite Muppet?
I've always thought of myself as more of a Kermit-Ernie type, Kermit-Ernie-Grover—in that world. I do laugh at the Swedish Chef. It's kind of hard to not find berndy-ferndy-perndy funny, regardless of the context.

Do you think kids today will be into the Smurfs? I was actually talking to [with self-consciously exaggerated emphasis] Hugh Jackman the other day, and he said that his son is obsessed with the Smurfs. Like obsessed: draws them, plays the Smurfs' Village video games. So if you get Hugh's approval...

I used to collect those little plastic ones.
I never really collected them. I was more of a burner. I'd entomb action figures in aluminum foil and then cook them—and open them up and see what it looked like afterwards. So I really loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, when their faces all melted at the end. That was cool.

Were you parents worried about this?
No, we lived in a small town in New Mexico. As long as I wasn't huffing gasoline in a paper bag, they were fine.

Were you a troublemaker as a kid?
No, not at all. I have an older brother, so he got to be the troublemaker and I got to learn vicariously through his mistakes. I was the sweeter, get-beaten-up-more kid.

They do always seem to go together. So would you have any interest in putting together a kids' show?
Eventually. I actually have things in the works in that department.

What can you tell me?
I can't tell you much because it's super early in the works and I wouldn't want to accidentally give someone good ideas. But I think that there are certain kids' genres that need to be revitalized, and now that I have kids myself, I'm interested in doing that. So we'll see. I'm slowly getting my Rolodex full of people I admire and can pull favors from.

I saw you tweeted about looking for a ventriloquist puppet.
I think I may have found one.

And now you have all of these Muppeteer connections.
You're speaking my language.

IMdB said you were working on an untitled TV project—what happened with that?
It's not untitled anymore; it's called Worked Up, and it wasn't picked up for the fall schedule, but we're hoping maybe it may appear sometime down the pike in CBS land. They had asked me to helm a multicamera pilot, and I did that a few months back. It was fun.

Why didn't it get picked up? Do they ever give you reasons?
Ah, ask Wonder Woman. That was supposed to be NBC's giant show of the season and they didn't pick that one up either, so...

But in the next season of How I Met Your Mother we will get to see Barney getting married?
Yep, gettin' married. That doesn't mean he has to have sex with just her.

Of course not. I was wondering what a marriage to Barney would look like—I guess it would look like an open marriage.
Here's hoping.

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the Tonys on CBS June 12 at 8pm. For info on a movie-theater screening of Company on June 16 and 19, go to The Smurfs is out July 29.

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