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.
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