Sunday, August 31, 2008

Interview: Neil Patrick Harris

Bill Keith writes:
Like his path or not, Neil Patrick Harris has charted it very carefully from child star to Broadway heavy hitter to sitcom scene-stealer. His stirring turns on Broadway in Assassins, Proof, and Cabaret proved that he had the chops to stick around in this business. With three seasons and an Emmy nomination under his belt -- plus a new gig as the face of Old Spice -- Harris has found his work as Barney Stinson on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother is taking him down a somewhat unexpected path -- that of a Hollywood leading man.

OUT: Did you do anything to hide your sexuality from the network or the executives on How I Met Your Mother?

Neil Patrick Harris: I didn’t release a statement to them, but at the first How I Met Your Mother barbecue I brought David. I feel like it’s important to be proud of who you are, so I didn’t feel like, “I should bring my friend Stephanie to this barbecue, or I’ll lose my job.” Thankfully, I live in a time where I don’t have to worry about that.

OUT: Fair enough, but do you think the network would have been behind your hiring if you had been openly gay at the time?

Neil Patrick Harris: Well, I think if I was an outspoken activist, they probably would have had some concerns that people wouldn’t have believed me in the role completely. I think the majority of people just want to see how talented you can be. And if I’m going to play a leading male heterosexual in a role, I’d better act like that for that picture and the audition and represent well, and I would hope that would still get me the job.

OUT: On the flip side, you were playing gay roles long before you came out.

Neil Patrick Harris: Yeah. That was tricky for me.

OUT: Was that a game you were playing? You seemed to be pursuing those roles -- the gay friend in The Next Best Thing, the emcee in Cabaret, an "ex-gay" on Will & Grace --

Neil Patrick Harris: No game. I thought it was clever. But internally. I figured if I kept working, it was an inevitability that someone would make that a story. I didn’t know how it would happen. So I thought when I got the job for The Next Best Thing -- the Madonna movie with Rupert Everett -- I thought, That’s kind of clever. I got to be on Will & Grace where I was an "ex-gay" with Sean Hayes, and I thought that was kind of clever too. When you look back you see there are some steps that I took.

Read full interview here.

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