Ac­tor Har­ris gets one more sea­son as ‘Events’ vil­lain

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Kathryn Shat­tuck

As the hooknosed, hy­giene-chal­lenged, vil­lain­ous Count Olaf in ‘‘A Se­ries of Un­for­tu­nate Events,’’ Neil Patrick Har­ris could eas­ily be the stuff of night­mares — yours and your chil­dren’s.

“Un­for­tu­nate Events,” in which he wickedly places the Baude­laire or­phans — Vi­o­let (Malina Weiss­man), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny (Pres­ley Smith) — in harm’s way while chas­ing af­ter their in­her­i­tance, isn’t typ­i­cal fam­ily fare.

But the mal­ice and ne­far­i­ous­ness are sur­pris­ingly en­joy­able.

“We’re far from friendly, but I like that a 10-year-old and a 40-year-old can watch the same scene and en­joy it for dif­fer­ent rea­sons,” he said. “We feel like we’re mak­ing some­thing that, in all of its nas­ti­ness, in all of its cyn­i­cism, is good.”

Hew­ing closely to Daniel Han­dler’s mar­velously macabre Le­mony Snicket nov­els, the Net­flix se­ries — sea­son two was re­leased March 30 — will end af­ter sea­son three (re­lease date to be an­nounced) with the last of the 13 books.

That will give the 44-year-old Har­ris, — a mul­ti­ple Emmy nom­i­nee as the wom­an­iz­ing Bar­ney in CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” and a Tony win­ner as the trans­gen­der East Ger­man rocker in “Hed­wig and the An­gry Inch” — more time to spend with his hus­band, David Burtka, and their 7-year-olds, Gideon (his thing is chess) and Harper (hers is belt­ing out song­book stan­dards).

Q: Why don’t you tell me where we are in the Baude­laire tribu­la­tions?

A: The kids are still try­ing to evade Count Olaf, and the only dif­fer­ence is they’ve both grown about 3 inches, so we quickly ref­er­ence how re­mark­ably tall they’ve got­ten. And there’s more ac­tion.

The Baude­laires for the first few books are shuf­fled from pro­tec­tor to pro­tec­tor and, at this point, real­ize that they’re on their own and have to take some per­sonal ac­tion in or­der to get away from Olaf and stick to­gether as a fam­ily.

Q: You’re un­rec­og­niz­able as Olaf. And Olaf him­self plays dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. How much time do you spend in the makeup chair?

A: About 2½ hours. I start in the spe­cial­ef­fects makeup trailer and do all the pros­thet­ics. I have a big fore­head piece that cov­ers my eye­brows and a nose that goes on, and then they paint it to match my skin tone, air­brush the whole thing with wrin­kles and spots and hand-paint bags un­der the eyes and cap­il­lar­ies.

Af­ter that, I get a three-piece uni­brow, two mut­ton­chops, a goa­tee and a two-piece wig. Then I get dressed, and I’m ready to go. Q: Whew. A: As much time as I spend in the process of look­ing like Olaf, it pales in com­par­i­son to the work­load that Louis and Malina have.

They’re on set do­ing their scene, block­ing and learn­ing lines, and then they’re rushed to school to think only about hon­ors bi­ol­ogy. Then there’s a knock at the door, and they stop where they are and go re­cite di­a­logue and act stressed and emo­tional.

Rinse and re­peat all day long un­til they’re pump­kined, which is the term for when they’re wrapped.

Q: You also host NBC’s “Ge­nius Ju­nior.” What’s the ap­peal?

A: It’s these re­mark­able kids who do the most amaz­ing feats, who can spell “om­ni­di­rec­tional” back­ward as fast as you can say it and re­mem­ber a shuf­fled deck of cards and know the Grey­hound bus map.

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