Delv­ing into the lives of friends

Se­ries draws from writer’s own ex­pe­ri­ence as a Har­vard grad

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY BILL BRIOUX

The way they were laugh­ing and horsing around dur­ing in­ter­views, you’d think Co­bie Smul­ders, Fred Sav­age and Ni­cholas Stoller re­ally were “Friends From Col­lege.’’ In­stead, that’s the ti­tle of their new Net­flix com­edy, which de­buted Fri­day.

Fact is, Smul­ders — still best known for “How I Met Your Mother’’ de­spite ap­pear­ing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in sev­eral in­car­na­tions of the Mar­vel “Avengers’’ se­ries — never at­tended col­lege.

The Van­cou­ver na­tive reg­is­tered at the Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria. Her orig­i­nal plan was to be­come a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist, but af­ter mod­el­ling through high school she was bit­ten by “the act­ing bug.’’

Smul­ders was just 22 when she landed the role as Cana­di­an­born re­porter Robin Scherbatsky on “How I Met Your Mother.’’ The CBS com­edy en­joyed a ni­ne­sea­son run that ended in 2014.

Her new role, as Lisa on “Friends From Col­lege,’’ calls on the 35-year-old ac­tress to be the ju­nior mem­ber of a group of Har­vard chums. Hold­ing onto friend­ships while head­ing into their 40s — de­spite one or two se­ri­ous ob­sta­cles — is the premise of this edgy new com­edy.

The first episode finds Lisa and her hus­band Ethan (Kee­gan-Michael Key) mov­ing to New York and re­unit­ing with the rest of the gang. Trou­ble is, Ethan has been car­ry­ing on a long dis­tance af­fair — since col­lege — with suc­cess­ful de­signer Sam (An­nie Parisse). Sam’s ac­tress friend Mar­i­anne (Jae Suh Park) is tired of keep­ing the adul­ter­ous cou­ple’s se­cret. Mean­while, lit­er­ary agent Max (Fred Sav­age) has to give his buddy Ethan the bad news about his lat­est book. Nick (Nat Faxon) is the gang’s slacker pal.

Sam’s busi­ness­man hus­band (guest star Greg Ger­mann) is de­tached enough to see this group in all their petty, com­pet­i­tive glory.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and writer Stoller di­rected all eight first­sea­son episodes. Smul­ders says the Lon­don na­tive was the main rea­son she signed on for the se­ries.

“I just re­ally love his work. I’m a fan,’’ says Smul­ders, who at­tended a table read for Stoller’s 2008 fea­ture hit “For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall.’’ His other work in­cludes writ­ing and di­rect­ing “Get Him to the Greek’’ as well as writ­ing the most re­cent Mup­pet fea­tures plus “Cap­tain Un­der­pants: The First Epic Movie.’’

AP PHOTO

This im­age re­leased by Net­flix shows, from left, An­nie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Kee­gan-Michael Key, Co­bie Smul­ders, Jae Suh Park, Fred Sav­age, Billy Eich­ner in “Friends From Col­lege,” which pre­miered on Fri­day.

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