These days Neil Patrick Harris is known for playing womaniser Barney Stinson in the hit US CBS TV show How I Met Your Mother, currently airing on UK satellite channel E4. The comedic role is one he has played since 2005, and it seems to be working for him, as he has racked up an impressive list of award nominations, including 2007, 2008 and 2009 Emmy nominations for best supporting male actor in a comedy series.
Before landing the show, Neil appeared in (one of my favourite cheesy movies) Undercover Brother (2002) with Eddie Griffin and Denise Lewis, and won critical acclaimed for playing an fictionalised version of himself (drug and sex crazed) in the wacky comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004). He later appeared in the film’s sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). The first movie tanked at the cinema box office, but took on a cult status once released on DVD, prompting a second movie, and allowing Neil to break out of the ‘Doogie Howser’ child star label, he had acquired from the TV series that gave him his big break as teen. Some say it also helped land him the role of Barney Stinson, who is in some ways similar to the character he played in the Harold and Kumar films. Neil recently revealed he had signed up for the third movie in the franchise, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (which will be out in 2011).
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that Neil is one of the most popular actors on US TV right now. Aside from How I met Your Mother, he presented the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2009, showcasing his singing and dancing skills in his opening monologue. He also appeared in an episode of TV phenom Glee, as Will Schuester’s high school arch-nemesis Bryan Ryan, a role for which he also received an Emmy nod, and was tapped up to be a guest judge on the 9th season of American Idol. See both below.
As well as excelling in TV, Neil is a star of the stage, and has appeared in several Broadway productions, including Sweeney Todd (2001) as Tobias Ragg, Cabaret (2003), as the Emcee in Cabaret, alongside co-stars Deborah Gibson and Tom Bosley, and Assassins (2004) in the dual role of the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald. In recent times he has also turned his hand to directing, and took on a production of the rock musical Rent (August 6–8, 2010) at the Hollywood Bowl, which starred High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens.
Vanessa is also his co-star in upcoming flick Beastly, in which he plays a blind tutor. The movie is scheduled for a March, 2011 release. He is also to appear in the indie comedy The Best and the Brightest as a father who moves his family from Delaware to New York City’s Upper East Side.
As if that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, Neil is also a voice-over artist and has lent his tones to the adult Dick Grayson for the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood (July 2010). He also voiced beagle Lou in the movie Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. The animated flick was released in August 2010 in the UK.
In terms of his personal life, Neil came out to the general public as gay on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2007. His long term partner is actor-turned chef David Burtka.
Most of us first clapped eyes on Neil Patrick Harris when he starred in the hit TV teen drama Doogie Howser M.D, a show about fictional child prodigy, Douglas ‘Doogie’ Howser, who got a perfect score on his SATs at the age of six, finished high school in nine weeks and graduated from Princeton University at the of age 10. After finishing medical school four years later, he became the youngest licensed doctor in the country (and probably the world) at the age of just 14!
Created by legendary writer and producer David E Kelley (L.A Law, Ally McBeal) and Steven Boccho (who is also no slouch, with Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and L.A Law under his belt to name a few), it was an interesting idea for a show and Neil, with his blonde mullet hairstyle and babyface was perfectly cast as the clean-cut teen, who we saw trying to juggle his life as a adolescent, (dealing with growing up, relationships with girls, maintaining friendships, and gaining independence from his parents) and living an adult life at work with major responsibilities.
Doogie Howser was also groundbreaking, because, it was the first show (as far as I can remember) which showcased an early example of a blog, which in this case was essentially a computer diary, which he was shown typing stuff into (‘the message of the day’) at the close of each episode.
The show also got the casting right with Doogie’s best friend, Vincent (Vinnie) Delphino (played by Max Cassella). Me and my brothers used to love Vinnie who was in total contrast to Doogie’s ‘square’ persona. He lived next door, and was wild, funny and preferred to climb through Doogie’s bedroom window to come into the house, rather than the conventional method of using the front door. He was always getting Doogie into trouble, but he was loyal till the end and had a heart of gold, which is why he and Doogie remained friends.
There was also Doogie’s girlfriend Wanda, his parents (his father, a family doctor with his own practice, who was always on hand to offer his son advice, whether he wanted it or not), and his friends and fellow employees at the hospital.
This show was great for tackling subjects that affect most young people, from sex, drugs, self-esteem, friendships, peer pressure, responsibilities and all the rest and like many other dramas/sit-coms aimed at kids.
The theme music (composed by TV theme genius Mike Post (The A Team, Blossom, Quantum Leap, CHiPs, Magnum PI, Hill Street Blues)) was also a big part of the show’s appeal, and it was one of the few tunes (well the first bit), that I actively taught myself to play on my electric keyboard (Lol!). And the opening credits, which showed all his press clippings as a child genius, was also really good, and set the scene for the show.
The show ran for four series, and I still have a few of the episodes on tape. My favourite episode was when Doogie and Vinnie got caught up in a store being robbed. In the end they managed to talk the jheri-curled, bandanna-sporting ‘gang-banger’ who was holding up the store and keeping them hostage, into giving himself up, after becoming friends with him during the time they spent in the store. They had a brilliant scene whereYoung MC’s Bust A Move was used as the musical backdrop, while they were all eating junk food from the shelves, dancing around and playing the video games machine (basically how they all bonded). In the end the ‘gang-banger’ ‘Raymond’ turned his life around and ended up working in the hospital as a porter/orderly. In real life his ass would have been hauled to jail, or worse still he would have shot Vinnie and Doogie long time, but hey… this was Hollywood and made for good TV! LOL!
Prior to Doogie Howser, Neil starred in the 1988 film Clara’s heart, alongside Whoopi Goldberg. He was cast after being discovered by playwright Mark Medoff at a drama camp he attended in his hometown of New Mexico. The role won him a Golden Globe nomination, which no doubt helped land him the role of Doogie Howser, a role which later on again landed him a Golden Globe nod.