Neil Patrick Harris has been acting for quite a while now, since 1988 according to IMDb, so obviously he must have mad improv skills; unfortunately for the How I Met Your Mother star these were misunderstood. If they weren’t misconstrued, perhaps they were ignored or even missed. After all, live theatre is much different from television and film, where even the tiniest nuances can be caught with relative ease by the viewer.
Without sounding too condescending, the main reason that Harris was reported as cursing out an audience member is that it makes a better story. The report goes that NPH was onstage in the Broadway show Hedwig and the Angry Inch when an adoring fan shouted out that they loved Neil. Reportedly, Harris shouted back that he was trying to do something “up here, motherf*****!”
The story, if true, is just the sort of juicy, shocking and amusing thing that make stars such good material for articles. Unfortunately it isn’t true. In the play Hedwig and the Angry Inch, where Harris plays a transgender German punk, the action is largely improvisational. A fact that whoever was reporting the incident was apparently unaware of or chose to leave out.
The real interaction between Neil Patrick Harris and an unknown lovestruck audience member was a bit longer and entailed more improv skills, which was apparently misunderstood by the journo penning the story. After shouting that they loved Harris, the actor, while staying in character, responded with “who was Nei”l followed by the statement that Harris was not him. Turning to Lena Hall, who was onstage with him at the time, he asked her if she was Neil and then said that she’d better not be. Harris, as Hedwig, then came out with the line that he was trying to do something mother******!
The 40 year-old actor is best known for his television roles, he was Doogie Howser, M.D. from 1989 to 1993; Henry McNeeley in Stark Raving Mad from 1999 to 2000 and Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother from 2005 to 2014. Apart from these appearances he featured in a number of other shows on top of providing voices for animated features or video games. He also played a parody of himself in the Harold and Kumar films as well as appearing on stage many times, including a few trips to Broadway.
The Doogie Howser, M.D. actor also played the lovelorn Dr. Horrible in the Joss Whedon web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog with Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion. With so many credits to his name, Neil has obviously learned to execute his craft faultlessly and the misquote only came about by someone being frugal with the truth.
Neil Patrick Harris, according to his spokesperson, never broke character during his Broadway performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. His spokesperson also revealed that the audience went crazy when he delivered his improvisational lines, which were prompted by the declaration of love by one viewer of the show. Harris was only misunderstood, “out of context,” and the improv nature of the show made his performance all the more apropos and, perhaps, less newsworthy than his “cursing” out an audience member. The talented actor would never react so unprofessionally, unless it was in the script.
By Michael Smith