Neil feels any­thing but blue

Neil Pa­trick Har­ris sat down with Neala John­son to dis­cuss his up­com­ing film, The Smurfs 2, and be­ing a gay man in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

What mes­sage can kids take from The Smurfs 2?

I ad­mire the idea of your fam­ily be­ing de­fined by who raises you, as op­posed to who gave birth to you. I thought that was a smart thing to put in such a fam­ily- based movie.

Frankly, it’s an im­por­tant les­son for kids who, more and more, aren’t blessed with a sit­u­a­tion like I had.

Was it eas­ier work­ing with in­vis­i­ble Smurfs the sec­ond time around?

It’s a strange process. But they never screw up their lines. So the onus is al­ways on me – you can’t blame any bad takes on The Smurfs.

Do you still talk to them now?

Sure, we talk weekly. It’s ex­pen­sive – the cell phone cov­er­age in Smurf Vil­lage is not very strong [ laughs].

You and part­ner David Burtka have twins who are al­most three. What do they like to watch?

We were try­ing to limit what tele­vi­sion they could watch. We limited it to an hour a day and some­thing like early Mup­pet Shows or Se­same Street from the ’ 70s.

I’m very into giv­ing them spe­cific vi­su­als. I’m con­cerned about the speed at which stuff is edited now – it’s so much in­for­ma­tion, so quick at a two- year- old’s brain.

I like the old- style edit­ing, it seems a lit­tle slower.

So you’d like your kids to have at­ten­tion spans, ba­si­cally?

That would be awe­some.

You’re known as a triple- threat. When did all th­ese ele­ments fall into place?

I grew up in a re­ally small town in New Mex­ico and I was drawn to singing in the choir and the band and all that, so mu­sic came first.

I was a bit of an ex­tro­vert as well, so I started per­form­ing in lit­tle com­mu­nity theatre stuff.

I still don’t dance re­ally well, so the third threat would prob­a­bly be read­ing a teleprompter, I’m pretty good at that.

You don’t just act, sing and host awards cer­e­monies. You’re also very in­volved be­hind the scenes in theatre and magic.

I like to be a bit of a tastemaker and en­cour­age peo­ple to see cool stuff. And one thing I find cool is live en­ter­tain­ment, whether it’s magic or cir­cus or Vegas or Broad­way.

It’s fun for peo­ple to get off their asses and go see some­thing live.

Peo­ple seem to be very ac­cept­ing of what­ever you try, where a lot of ac­tors are put in a box and ex­pected to stay there.

Well, I acted as a kid in a role that was kind of defin­ing ( Doo­gie Howser, MD), so I worked hard to not be in a sin­gu­lar box and that was rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful. And be­cause I started so young, peo­ple feel like they may know me so they’re more ac­cept­ing for me to try other stuff, maybe. I don’t re­ally know.

Is it a source of pride that you can break some stereo­types, be­ing the gay man play­ing a wom­an­iser on How I Met Your Mother?

I guess. I only re­ally pon­der that in ret­ro­spect, I have no real agenda. But it is fun to be a fam­ily man with David and the kids at home, then get up the next morn­ing and go put on a suit and make out with a 75- year- old woman. That makes me laugh.

Some be­lieve their act­ing ca­reer would be over if they were openly gay. You’re prob­a­bly the best ex­am­ple that’s not the case.

I re­ally don’t think it is like that. The prob­lem is I don’t think so­ci­ety is that hard on peo­ple, I think peo­ple are hard on them­selves.

That com­ing out process is so in­di­vid­ual and so in­ter­nal and so wrought with demons, it could have come from a par­ent that said, ‘ Don’t do this’, or it could have come from a movie that said, ‘ Don’t do that’, or it could have come from a bi­ble. What­ever it is, they’re their own worst en­emy.

So yes, there are cer­tain peo­ple who are re­ally studly, James Bondish kind of guys where it may af­fect their ca­reers if they were thought of in a cer­tain way, but I don’t even know if that ex­ists any more and I’m thank­fully not that guy. I’m not try­ing to pre­tend that I’m The Rock [ laughs].

Was it a strug­gle for you to come out?

No, it seemed an in­evitabil­ity. I’m happy to live my life the way I am.

The me­dia was very re­spect­ful and not pry­ing in to my per­sonal life it was just an un­der­stood non-dis­cus­sion. But then at a cer­tain point it be­comes un­com­fort­able for David and I to go to premieres, where I walk the car­pet and he doesn’t or he walks in front of me or it seems dis­re­spect­ful to him.

But if we walk pinkie- in- pinkie down the red car­pet it looks like we’re mak­ing some sort of grand ges­ture. So it’s a weird dy­namic.

Peo­ple have been ei­ther su­per sup­port­ive or en­tirely non­plussed by all of it. Both ex­tremes for me are absolutely ac­cept­able.

THE SMURFS 2

Now show­ing Vil­lage Cinemas

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