Cobie Smulders How I Met Your Mother Interview Essay

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Reacquaint yourselves with the gang when How I Met Your Mother returns for an eighth season filled to the brim with huge revelations and standout episodes. The much-loved, award-winning sitcom hits DVD on 30 September 2013 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Set in Manhattan, the seven-time Emmy-award winning show stars Josh Radnor (Liberal Arts), Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Cobie Smulders (Avengers Assemble), Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs) and Alyson Hannigan (American Pie); focusing on a future Ted Mosby (Radnor) recounting to his son and daughter the events that led to him meeting their mother, each episode flits back and forth in time to showcase the hilarious hi-jinks and escapades of five friends living in New York.

Season 8 starts with the beginning of the end as we glimpse the future wedding of Barney (Harris) to his bride, shockingly revealed at the climax of the previous season to be Robin (Smulders). Back in the present, the gang contend with ג€˜The Autumn of Break-Upsג€™ as relationships helplessly fall apart, whilst Lily (Hannigan) and Marshal (Segel) host a quiz show to decide who would make the best godparent for their new-born son… With weddings, revelations and clues aplenty, could we finally be on the cusp of learning just how Ted met the mother of his children?

With guest appearances from Seth Green (Austin Powers), Alexis Denisof (Much Ado About Nothing) and Ashley Benson (Spring Breakers), not to mention a cameo appearance from Mike Tyson, nowג€™s the time to learn why the hugely-loved sitcom – deemed this generationג€™s Friends – is must-watch television as How I Met Your Mother Season 8 is released on 30 September 2013 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris discuss the Robin and Barney dynamic, THAT proposal and what it’s like saying goodbye after the end of Season 9…



As this show has progressed, have you guys been rooting for Barney and Robin to make it as a couple?

Neil Patrick Harris: I have. Iג€™ve been actively trying to make that happen. I talk to the writers and I was pitching it, and Iג€™d try to do little things in our scenes together where I gave her an extra look and an extra glance or would stare only at her during a whole scene just to see if anyone was noticing. I thought there was a nice wrinkle about Barney liking the chick that Ted wants. Though really I was just hoping that Iג€™d get to ג€˜Fג€™ her once and get it out of my system, but it was a good ג€˜Fג€™. It was a capital ג€˜Fג€™!

Cobie Smulders: I just grabbed you!

Neil Patrick Harris: We had good chemistry. And I love doing scenes with Cobie, sheג€™s super fun. Sheג€™s Canadian, you know. Theyג€™re cool.

Cobie Smulders: Itג€™s all about being Canadian. I agree with all that Neil said. I think when she was in a relationship with Ted and it came up, and they were like, ג€œYouג€™re going to hook up with Barney,ג€ I was like, ג€œNo way. That is not cool. Theyג€™re like best friends!ג€ I got kind of weirded out by it. Then I just feel like in life these things happen. Thatג€™s one of the things that I love about our show: a lot of our writers take from their own personal experiences. At the beginning of the show, Carter Bays is Ted and Craig Thomas is Marshall. It is based on their lives. So itג€™s very much filled with their own life experiences. So I went that way in my mind of like, ג€œListen, this stuff happens when youג€™re a close group of friends, people hook up and it happens.ג€ Then, once we got together, I really enjoyed working with Neil. I enjoy our scenes so much, and I feel like itג€™s a very interesting and comical pairing. People are always asking, ג€œWho would you rather be with, Ted or Barney?ג€ But Barney and Robin are just so different that I feel for both of them to decide, ג€œAll right, this is it,ג€ is just such a wonderful choice.

Neil Patrick Harris: You always answered Barney, right?

Cobie Smulders: No. Ted.

Cobie Smulders: But itג€™s a hard thing to end, with Ted.

Neil Patrick Harris: I saw a lot of people being a little tired of Ted still hoping that Robin would be the one after we knew that she wasnג€™t the one. Iג€™m embellishing on what Cobie said, but I think itג€™s nice that theyג€™re actually playing it out like it would actually play out. Sitcom emotion tends to just end and theyג€™re not together and then they move on, but there are feelings that do linger and even though the voiceover Ted, older Ted, has said that sheג€™s not the mother, he still thinks that there could be something between the two of them and that doesnג€™t happen only once. That may happen three or four times. I like the realism of that in the confines of a multi-camera structure.


When youג€™ve played these characters for so long, for so many years, does the character and yourself ever bleed into each other?

Cobie Smulders: Iג€™ve played Robin for so long now, the character has changed and morphed, and they try out things ג€“ like she yells at Patrice all the time, she loves guns but then sheג€™s super emotional, then sheג€™s super insensitive ג€“ so Iג€™ve been able to have such an arc of the character, which I think is rare on TV. So I think that thereג€™ll always be little parts of her that go on to other roles that I play. Robin was not a Canadian when I signed on for the show. She became one because apparently according to Carter and Craig, weג€™re exotic! Those were literally the words they used to me in Season 1. They were like, ג€œWell, you know, I just feel like itג€™s really exotic,ג€ and Iג€™m like, ג€œI have never in my life been called exotic!ג€

Neil Patrick Harris: I was thinking about that very question earlier ג€“ in the shower of all places ג€“ because Iג€™m often asked, ג€œDo they write Barney based on you?ג€ but I think weirdly the opposite ends up being more true. Obviously we have conversations with the writers and they get to know how we talk and what jokes we sell better than others, so they write towards that, but I think itג€™s made me freer to be more of an extrovert and have a not-give-a-shit kind of attitude, having played Barney. Because you have to, as Barney, not only not care what people think, but go above and beyond that and just own things. I think before the show I was probably more hyper-introspective about what people were thinking and how I came across, and Barney has informed me in a way that I care less about that. So thatג€™s good.


Could you talk a little bit about the proposal? You were messing with the audience!

Neil Patrick Harris: That was a long arc and I was concerned about it because all of a sudden Barneyג€™s dating Patrice, someone that he would openly mock in previous seasons. They said, ג€œTrust us, we have a whole thing.ג€ I made them sit me down and explain what it was. Itג€™s a whole long arc, even to explain that the last five episodes in a row were all one big long play, and we filmed extra little bits of scenes to pay off later. I still thought, ג€œI get what youג€™re doing, but Iג€™m worried that the audience at home are not going to like it, because there will be too many episodes in a row where theyג€™re going, ג€˜Are you kidding me?ג€™!ג€ And yet it paid off so well. I just thought that was such a sweet thing: that playbook, the final play. So sweet for Robin and gave her such a great, wonderfully worded speech at Barney that ends with a yes to a proposal. Thatג€™s how Carter and Craig continue to keep the show fresh and good.



Was that scene emotional for the two of you while you were shooting it?

Neil Patrick Harris: Kind of. I think a proposal is different from a wedding. We knew it wasnג€™t goodbye. We knew it was a continuation of more stuff to come and weג€™re not actually becoming a couple, so in that regard it wasnג€™t emotional, but I liked that it was solidifying a future between the two of us just as actors.

Cobie Smulders: I also feel like the way it was played out, it was such a surprise for Robin ג€“ I went from pining after Barney to letting it go, to then getting really jealous. There was so much going on that when it happened ג€“ I think we had a few more episodes after that, right? ג€“ I feel like even in those episodes it was like, ג€œYeah, weג€™re engagedג€¦ג€ like we were still trying to figure it out between us.

Neil Patrick Harris: It was a stunner.


You obviously all get along on the set, the cast are really good friends. Do you make each other laugh a lot? Are there a lot of bloopers that will end up on the DVD gag reel?

Cobie Smulders: I break all the time. Itג€™s actually something that I am working on. Right? Neil can attest.

Neil Patrick Harris: Itג€™s tricky because when somethingג€™s really funny you donג€™t want to break because thatג€™s the take you want them to use, and the minute your mouth starts to turn then they have to cut. And yet you donג€™t want to say, ג€œDonג€™t do that funny thing that youג€™re doing because itג€™s making me break!ג€ So you have to get into a whole headspace about it. But a fit of giggles is hard to squelch.


How are you feeling about the show coming to an end next season?

Cobie Smulders: How are we feeling emotionally about it? They are heightened emotions. We did our first interview where someone asked, ג€œWhat are you going to miss the most?ג€ and I was like, ג€œIג€™m going to miss these people,ג€ and I literally started to cry. On set it hasnג€™t quite sunk in. But I feel like itג€™s going to be just a really intense time for everyone.

Neil Patrick Harris: Iג€™m a little more part robot. I compartmentalize things and Iג€™m not a fan of goodbyes so I havenג€™t really contemplated it that way. I donג€™t want to spend the time that we have left on the show lamenting its demise, because weג€™re not there yet. So even though itג€™s run eight, now nine seasons, we still have 20-some odd weeks to do this and I want to make sure that weג€™re enjoying it as opposed to being wistful about it. But Iג€™m trying to take it in more. Cobie said that earlier, that sheג€™s trying to take everything in, in a different way, and Iג€™m trying to do that. But this show has been an embarrassment of riches.






By Hudson Morgan
Photographs by Andrea Varani
Styling by Mireille Comstock

BARNEY AND ROBIN. ROBIN AND BARNEY. For seven seasons of How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders have proved that comedy is timing—and love even more so. But now, with the show entering its eighth and (probably) final year, they’re tying the knot … or not? Things are a little clearer off-screen: Both are building families (Smulders has a 3-year-old with Saturday Night Live’s Taran Killam; Harris has 2-year-old twins with David Burtka) and fame (she was in The Avengers and has movies with Paul Rudd and Vince Vaughn ahead; he has franchises like The Smurfs, endless hosting gigs and even an Emmy win for his guest spot on Glee). So what better time to bring the two of them to Florence, Italy, to see what makes them click—and their timing tick.

WATCH!: So, Florence: Discuss.
COBIE SMULDERS: It was epic. I had just finished all this press for Avengers and I was like, “Pastaaaa, pizzzzaaaaa …”
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: The food there is just outrageous. We ate at a shockingly fancy restaurant one night with a thousand courses of tiny bites.

WATCH!: Good wine?
COBIE: We didn’t have wine because my girlfriend who was with me and I are so high class that we were like [ditzy voice], “What do you have with tequila in it?”
NEIL: Yeah, they kept making you mixed drinks.
COBIE: My issue is, I love wine but I know it’s a 20-course meal, and if I’m drinking all this wine I’m going to fall asleep. I wanted to enjoy myself, and usually that happens when I have liquor. Tequila. NEIL: When Cobie’s drinking she gets louder and more, like, “Let’s do it! Let’s have an adventure!” She really needs to drink more.

WATCH!: How was the shoot?
COBIE: The clothes were beautiful, and we shot in the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, where we stayed. Every room was different and restored and the frescoes were repainted, so it felt like staying in a castle.
NEIL: It was like residing in a museum. Everything was off-the-charts spectacular. A perfect backdrop.

WATCH!: Let’s talk about Season 8. Is it the last one?
NEIL: We don’t have any idea. I think we’re all operating on the assumption that there may be a ninth season, but enjoying Season 8 as if it’s our last.

WATCH!: What did you think when you found out Robin is Barney’s mystery bride?
COBIE: I found out halfway into last season when we started hooking up and I was cheating on Kal [Penn]. I can’t remember his character’s name since [sultry voice] there are so many men in my TV life.

WATCH!: You throw the kitty around.
COBIE: Is that like … I’ve never heard that. I’m going to steal that. Next on-screen interview I do, I will be saying that. So, anyway, Neil and I had just started to hook up again and I went to [co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas] and was like, “What’s happening?” When it’s anything with cheating, I feel really guilty and weird about it. So I was like, “Can you tell me where we’re going from here?”

WATCH!: So will Robin and Barney actually make it down the aisle?
NEIL: That’s a tricky element to our show—they spin us in directions that we don’t end up. We haven’t filmed anything where we’re having the actual wedding. But a lot of Season 8 will take place at the wedding and around it. So that would certainly be shocking if they didn’t actually end up getting married.

WATCH!: Do you guys want them to end up together?
COBIE: I really like the two characters together. I think they’re an interesting coupling, because they both fight commitment so much that coming together is a very brave thing to do. It also sets up a lot of comedy and conflict. NEIL: Cobie’s got that intoxicating ability to be both funny and incredibly sincere within the same scene, and that’s just a joy to be on the receiving end of.

WATCH!: It sounds like the intoxication comes from tequila.
COBIE: And roofies, which I give all of my co-stars.
NEIL: Which seems funny at first, and then we just take a really long lunch. [Laughs.] I’m … not feeling well.

WATCH!: The more important question, obviously, is whether the making out has gotten better over the years.
COBIE: I don’t feel like there’s ever really any making out.
NEIL: How dare you!
COBIE: I think there’s kissing—
NEIL: We make out a lot!
COBIE: I don’t think there’s ever been any tongue involved.
NEIL: Maybe not your tongue.
COBIE: Sometimes Neil slips it in … and I don’t mean his tongue.
NEIL: [Laughs.] Nice, Smulders. Well played. As Barney Stinson I have made out with a lot of people on the show. I’ll have a day on set where I’m just disgustingly making out with like five extras and they’re girls I’ve never even met. And the grosser the make-out for me, the funnier. I make out with a 75-year-old woman this season. It was like, “Now we’re making out, nice to meet you.”

WATCH!: Who, uh, else do you hook up with this season?
NEIL: Right now we’re several episodes in, so we’re not very sure where it’s going. But I can say this: A lot is going to be seeing couples that we know don’t work out. Ted starts the first episode with Victoria going off into the sunset, but we all know that’s not meant to be. Quinn and I are engaged to get married, but we all know that’s not meant to be, and now we have Robin with Nick (Michael Trucco), and we know that’s not going to be. So a lot of the season is seeing the end result and simultaneously seeing how you break up and what brings you together—Barney to Robin and Ted to The Mother.

WATCH!: Are you sick of people asking who The Mother is yet?
NEIL: A lot of people ask, but I don’t know anything. Carter and Craig sat me down to tell me and we were interrupted by someone! So I don’t know how it ends, and frankly it’s better this way. I do a lot of drunk Tweeting where I say things I probably shouldn’t, and so I would inevitably just reveal it.

WATCH!: How is life now that you’re both juggling movie careers and parenthood?
NEIL: It’s a time suck!

WATCH!: Cobie, are you giving Neil parenting pointers since you’re a couple of years ahead?
NEIL: She refers to all children as “baby anchors.”
COBIE: [Playing along] Yeah …
NEIL: Once she started doing that I realized I probably shouldn’t take advice from her. I think they’re more than that. They’re people.
COBIE: Are they, though? Are they?
NEIL: “How was your day, Cobie?” “Oh, hung out with the baby anchor.”
COBIE: [Tongue firmly in cheek.] Alllll day long. Ugh.
NEIL: No, it’s been extraordinary, the family feeling of our show. It really is a giant family. Our director, Pam Fryman, is literally like our mother. Then Aly [Hannigan] had a kid, then Cobie had a kid, then we had two, and Jason [Segel] is practically a surrogate parent at the moment. There’s just this fantastic baby vibe, there’s a nursery on set, and everyone has grown old with each other.
COBIE: We’ve worked together for eight years [looks at Neil]—stop smirking at me!—and that’s longer than you spend with anyone in high school or college. So we’re all close because of that. We’re very lucky—I hear stories of other sets.

WATCH!: Yeah, big time.
NEIL: I only hang out with pretty people. And Cobie’s very pretty. You’ve got that sparkle.
COBIE: He’s really pushing my buttons today. He’s saying things to make me uncomfortable … or turned on. [Laughs.]

NEIL: That’s one of the great things about being Barney Stinson and gay. I can be much more overtly sexual and awful and not be sued for it. Because I go home to my boyfriend. Boom! So how’s that hold up in court?
COBIE: It’s true.
NEIL: It’s not fondling if you’re not feeling anything.

WATCH!: Granted, you’re still shooting HIMYM for another season or two, but have you thought about what’s next?
NEIL: We’re thinking about maybe moving to New York and you have to start thinking two or three years ahead. [Earnest voice] “I’d like to host a late-night variety show like Ed Sullivan!” But you can’t really put anything into action yet. Dr. Horrible 2, I’d like to do soon-ish.

WATCH!: Cobie, are you thinking New York, too?
COBIE: Yeah. I think as soon as the show is done I’ll move out.

WATCH!: Have you thought about doing any projects together?
COBIE: It’s so funny—Josh is directing, starring, writing his own movies, and people are like, “How come Josh doesn’t write a part for you?” And I’m like, “I’m pretty sure Josh is sick of working with me!”
NEIL: I really wanted to do a small part in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Jason was talking to me about it and it ended up not happening and the notes he got were like, “It’ll be hard for people to see the two of you in a scene together without thinking you’re Marshall and Barney.” It makes sense. It would be hard for Cobie and me to be in a rom-com together without people thinking RoBarn.
COBIE: RoBarn? Is that it?
NEIL: Yeah, that’s what people are using. [Tween voice] It’s allllll over the Internet.
COBIE: [Laughs.] We can never do serious interviews when we’re together.
NEIL: Because I’m hypnotized by her gorge.
COBIE: That’s the name of my vagina. Tossing the kitten around.
NEIL: Throwing the kitty around!
COBIE: Tossing is a good word, though.
NEIL: Now she’s changing it.
COBIE: I’m just trying to make it my own.

See photos of Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders on location in Florence.

Producer: Christopher Ross
Photo Editor: Meagan McLaughlin
Associate Producer: Peter Jablonski
Photo Assistant: Andrea Baccetti
Digital Tech: Nicola Moretto
Styling Assistant: Adelina Cingolini
Hair: Maurizio Lucchese
Makeup: Daniela Galeazzi

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