drew you to the role of Barney on 'How I Met Your Mother'?
Oh, he just gets to be the funny jester guy. It's fun to be in complicated
roles, but it's equally as fun to do something kind of silly and straightforward.
It's a nice show. It's a tight-knit ensemble, but I'm the guy that requires
the least amount of depth. It's a nice workload for me. I get to go in,
put on the chuckle face and then go home.
How do you get
into the mind of Barney each week?
It's a combination of two parts cynicism and one part Red Bull. Shake
well. Drink with a chaser.
Is there any of
Barney in you personally?
I'm relatively sardonic, but I'm certainly not the playboy that he is.
He's a quantity man. He's after as many crazy adventures and one-night
stands that he can get, and I'm a bit more regular.
Has that always
been the case?
Oh, that's always been the case. I was born and raised in New Mexico,
so I had sort of mellow upbringing, and I lived the wild chapter before
I was even legally able to go into bars! So by the time my fake ID wasn't
useful, I didn't find much use for the clubs.
What about all
your catchphrases like when guys hit the town all dressed up and say "Suit
Up." I hear it all the time. How does that feel?
Oh, it's great! It's a big shout out to the writers you know. I don't
come up with much of any of that. And that's all them deciding they want
to bring a new catch phrase into the world. And what I like is if the
catch phrase is dumb or won't last, the fact that Barney thinks it is
hilarious is what makes it funny. But there have been some good ones.
I think "legendary." And the "Lemon Law" is pretty
funny, and they gave Marshal "lawyered."
What did you think
of the Barney origin story?
That was "Game Night." It's the one where in order to hear my
most embarrassing story I had to hear everyone else's story as well. That
was great because it gave them a chance to see that Barney was an actual
person before he became the horrible lothario that he has become. I get
a kick out of the writers writing crazy stuff for me and I hope to take
it another level even beyond that. That's my job, so they came to me and
said, "You're going to like this one." They said, "You're
going to get to sing songs, weep and wear a pony tail," and I said,
"Bring it on!"
What would you
like to see Barney do next, character wise or story wise?
I would say either start a committed relationship for a long period of
time and see where that goes or some kind of nerve agent where he pratfalls
all over the place. Like 'The Carol Burnett Show,' when Tim Conway is
the patient at the dentist's office and he keept being injected with the
numbing agent and he could not move his body parts. I've asked for more
pratfalls. That's all I want. Doogie Howser
So what would Barney
think of Doogie? Would they be pals?
Barney needs people that have a much freer social calendar than young
Dr. Howser does. He'd be working too much. In 'How I Met Your Mother,'
everyone claims to have jobs, but they hang out and drink quite a lot.
There's a running
gag with your character that no one really knows what you do.
I love that. Lilly is supposed to be a kindergarten teacher, but she's
always out at parties and bars. Ted's supposed to be a bloody architect,
which requires a lot of work from what I hear! But he's out on dates,
all-nighters, drinking and puking. No one has caught us in that lie yet.
If for one episode
you could play any other character on television, who would that be?
I'd probably have to be Terry on the current 'Survivor: Exile Island.'
Why is that?
Because he kicks ass. He's won four immunity challenges in a row! He's
really good at everything, and I love those ropes "coursey"
adventure kinds of things. It's either that or Hamlet.
I thought you'd
go more Jack Bauer.
Oh well, yes, but Jack gets into a lot of trouble in a day. I don't know
that I could handle the pressure.
What draws you
to working in theater?
Theater flexes your acting muscles in a way a show can't. When you have
a camera crew and writers, you don't have to be spot on all the time because
there's multiple takes and there's a lot of editing that can be done to
benefit a performance. When you're live on stage, it's just you there
and them watching, so you have to raise your game in a practical matter.
I'm doing Arthur Miller right now and it's the complete opposite of Barney
in 'How I Met Your Mother' as far as an actor is concerned, so it's nice
to make sure the box I'm getting labeled in doesn't look like a square.
That's a good way
to put it. Have a little variety in your life.
Exactly. Plate spinning. Sword swallowing.
And ropes courses.
(Laughs.) And rope courses. Now if I could find a rope course, I'd be
thrilled! Never done it, really.
What do you tell
your friends about 'How I Met Your Mother' to get them interested in the
It plays like a sitcom with multi-cameras and it plays like 'Everybody
Loves Raymond,' but it doesn't play out in a linear way. The whole thing
is a big story that the older Ted in the future is telling his kids about
relationships and what it all meant. So we're allowed to jump back and
forth between 12 hours ago and 12 hours since, and two hours later, and
back and forth.
Is that what drew
you to it? That it's not like your standard sitcom?
Yeah, I think people are getting frequently bored with the situation comedy
format where something happens in the first act and you have to deal with
the repercussions in the second, and deal with the conclusion in the third
and make jokes in between, but this sort of allows for different layering.
In the episode, "The Pineapple Incident," the story kept overlapping
and you'd think the story had ended, and you'd reveal another plot point
and go back and see it all again, and was it new knowledge. Then you'd
reveal another plot point, and you'd go back. So I think that's enjoyable
to watch. It's certainly enjoyable to create. I just hope the network
will start advertising our show again! Howie Mandel and his crateful of
Samsonite luggage are really taking a toll on us!
If you could go
back in time at any point in your life and give yourself advice, what
age would that be and what would that advice be?
I'd probably go back and tell myself around the age of 16 or 17, no, maybe
even older. I'd go back to my 20-something self and convince me it's not
incredibly important what others think of you. You just have to do your
own thing. It's hard to be in the public eye when you're deciding who
you wanted to be. I was very aware of trying to make sure everyone was
pleased, and living your life that way is difficult. I think you can be
selfless and still be a good person, but I think you need to be an individual
and not quite care about making sure that everyone else is happy.
What are some of
your current favorite TV shows?
Great question. I love competition reality shows -- not the romance ones,
but 'Survivor,' 'Amazing Race,' 'Top Chef' and 'Project Runway.' All of
those kinds of shows I can't get enough of. Lost
What about all-time?
My all time favorite shows, I loved 'Three's Company,' big fan of 'The
Carol Burnett Show.' I like really old school variety art stuff like 'Ed
Sullivan.' I love 'Letterman.' '24' is a great show. Oh you know what
I'm watching now, this show, I don't know if it's going to be a hit or
not, it's called 'Lost.'
That little show
about some people on an island?
Yes. I hope people start watching it. I bought a video iPod and I'm watching
season two now episode-by-episode on my iPod, which is an absolute technological
thrill. It's the coolest thing ever because there's no commercials, and
you can be anywhere, you know, at the gym or a restaurant if you're eating
by yourself or what not. Before my play, 'All My Sons,' I'll just sit
there and watch 'Lost.' It's great.