Actor Harris gets one more season as ‘Events’ villain
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.