More than a decade after taking her star-turning role as reporter Robin Scherbatsky on the L.A.-soundstage–filmed but set-in–New York TV show How I Met Your Mother, Cobie Smulders has become a real Manhattanite. And she makes her Broadway debut as Joanna Lyppiatt in Noël Coward’s comedy Present Laughter, acting opposite Kevin Kline’s meta role as the world’s most famous actor in the late 1930s. Between performances, Canadian-born Smulders still finds time to enjoy her city.
You’re doing your first Broadway run in Present Laughter. What’s the play like?
Doing Noël Coward is such a privilege. His language, the wit he uses and gives to his characters, and the rhythm in which these scenes play out—it’s just so entertaining to watch and so fun to perform. The storyline revolves around the character of Garry Essendine, played by Kevin Kline, who is touted as the most famous stage actor of this time. I like to think of Garry as the sun, and we’re all these planets orbiting around his warmth and his energy.
The play really transports you to a different time.
It’s like jumping in your time machine and going to an entirely different era. This is a play that Noël Coward wrote [at the start of] World War II, so theatergoers could go into the theater and escape for a while. At this time in our history, it’s a nice thought as well, to be able to go to the theater and laugh and watch these characters and bizarre circumstances take place onstage.
How does doing theater in New York compare to doing TV and movies in L.A.?
This experience for me is literally a dream come true. I’ve always loved doing theater, and to be on Broadway doing a Noël Coward play with these amazing people, I’m constantly like, “How did I get here?” It’s such a fun thing to figure out each night.
What’s your life like in the city?
It’s great now because my husband [actor Taran Killam] is in Hamilton, and we have these wonderful pockets of in-between on two-show days—Wednesdays and Saturdays—where we get to sit down and have a mommy-daddy date [Editor’s note: The couple has two children], which is a rarity in our lives right now. We live downtown, so we love being around the Battery Park area. As soon as it gets warmer, I’ll be biking to work every day. We’ve been doing Sardi’s a lot because it’s a couple doors down from [the theaters] and is so wonderfully historic. It’s been the same for 50 years.
Many fans know you from How I Met Your Mother, in which you played a New Yorker.
I like to think that I somehow fold into this city now. Maybe people see me wandering around, and they just go like, “Oh, yeah, that’s Robin and she’s a New Yorker.”
Cobie Smulders stars in Present Laughter at the St. James Theatre through July 2. $59–$199.