Neil Patrick Harris: From Doogie to Daddy to “Smurfs”

Since Neil Patrick Harris is helping revive an 80s staple with "The Smurfs," how would he feel about someone doing a whole new take on his 80s staple, "Doogie Howser M.D."? 

“That's a cool idea – hilarious!” Harris tells PopcornBiz. “I'd love to pass the albatross to someone else. I joke! That's a funny idea. It feels like 40 lifetimes ago, and yet I can't believe that it was, like, twentyish years ago. It feels both like I just did it and that it never happened." 

Harris, 38, says there’s something nice about having so much of his life preserved on video after making his Hollywood acting debut at age 15. “It is cool, especially on digital, because for a while it was all on VHS tapes which I was worried were going to die in some box in the garage somewhere. But, yeah, weird. It was weird growing up under the scrutiny of a camera, and yet it wasn't like a weird reality show." 

With two twin babies at home – son Gideon and daughter Harper – Harris expects “The Smurfs” to be among the first of Daddy’s work that his kids will see one day. “They're not even allowed to look at screens yet, but yes, it would be nice,” he says. “The movie is going to live on in DVD, but if it becomes a bit of a thing that'll be fun to show them.”

The actor is among the rare child stars to find success as an adult – he’s collected an Emmy for his guest work on “Glee” and multiple nominations for his role as womanzing bro-dog Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” - not to mention that he's become the go-to host for high-profile awards shows like the Tonys. He even gleefully parodied himself in both of the "Harold & Kumar" stoner comedies.

“I've always been very cognizant of how one is being perceived,” he says. “I was not ever interested in being pigeonholed as one thing and for a long time I just took any job that I could get and it happened that randomly I could only do TV movies, and then for a while not even that was happening and so I could only do theater. 'Harold & Kumar' was just a stroke of luck. I mean, they wrote the movie and wrote me into the movie, doing those crazy things. So my concern for perception was, like, 'Am I making fun of myself or am I in on the joke or is self-aggrandizing and stupid?' So, I trusted them and I'm glad that I did, because then ["How I Met Your Mother creators] Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas] believed that I could be Barney after having seen 'Harold & Kumar'. So it worked itself out. That wasn't super-intentional, but I'm very grateful for it.”

The role of Barney has also earned Harris a following in the "frat guy" community, which he appreciates seeing as the character - a single, straight, skirt-chasing cad - couldn't be further from the reality of an engaged, openly gay, father of two.

“College bars are tough now in that sense because guys actually really relate to Barney," says Harris. "They've read the Bro Code and they can recite things that I didn't even remember. And oddly, I think a lot of those guys also know me and my personal life. I'm impressed with their lack of phobias, to be able to embrace Barney Stinson so much and still think I'm a decent cat.”

After nearly a lifetime in the limelight, the actor admits he still has showbiz dreams he’s hoping to make come true. “I would love to originate a big show on Broadway,” he says. “Maybe Sondheim will decide that he wants to write one more.”

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