One may wonder what became of Neil Patrick Harris, best known as that young doc Doogie Howser. Neil has been busy, what with countless appearances on stage, the odd film role and his return to television Stark, Raving Mad. Harris has grown up since his Doogie days, though as he admitted to Paul Fischer while promoting the new spy spoof Undercover Brother, escaping TV’s Doogie hasn’t been easy.
Question: When I told my friends about this press junket for Undercover Brother and meeting ‘Doogie Howser’, they said “How cool is that?”
Answer: I’m glad they said “cool”. [laughs]
Question: Have you been able to escape that persona?
Answer: I don’t think I’ll ever really escape it. I just sort of had to own it and then keep moving forward. It was four years of a great show that I was really proud of. It was a good show and I played him, so people are going to know me as that character for a while.
Question: Was it hard to make that transition from television to film and from adolescent to adult?
Answer: Yes, it was. Honestly, it is hard to hard to have been successful in television and then try to do feature films. The casting directors either want an established feature actor to be in their movie or a new face that they can make into a feature actor. Television sort of becomes baggage when you are dealing with features. So I just had to take some years off from feature stuff and do more long form TV and more theater stuff and keep working and keep growing and just wait for that swell to have passed.
Question: Do you think of going back to TV again?
Answer: I just love working on good projects. So if another series came along that was good. The problem with television for the actor is that you have to commit to seven years of doing a show. You don’t want to do a sitcom with people you don’t trust, because you don’t know if in year three you are going to have to spit out terrible jokes. But I tried this pilot season to nail a pilot and got nothing.
Question: Why do you think they cast you in Undercover Brother? You don’t seem the obvious choice?
Answer: I think the lack of melanin in my skin!
Question: You get to be funny. It would have been very easy for you to just be a straight guy.
Answer: I was sort of the butt of jokes initially.
Question: You are going back to Broadway, right?
Answer: Yes. I am going to be in “Proof” with Anne Heche. Then I am doing “Assassins” next fall. I am lucky, in that I sort of acquired financial freedom when I was younger by doing “Doogie Howser”, so I don’t need to work for money to pay my mortgage, which is great. And theater is fun. It unfortunately doesn’t pay much, which is too bad, because as an actor it is so much fun.”