Back in 2005, CBS unveiled a rather unassuming pilot, with a unique concept. How I Met Your Mother was set in the future, with the main character telling his two teenage children the story of their parents’ romance. Nine improbable seasons later, Ted Mosby’s matrimonial odyssey is about to reach its conclusion, and the cast and creators shared some of their fondest memories with reporters Wednesday night.
Sitting at the studio they’ve called home for nine years, actors Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders — all of whom have seen their stars rise during the show’s run — held court and reminisced about when they first knew the show was a hit, dealing with impatient fans, and the bond they’ve formed throughout the years.
“This is the longest I’ve known any group of people besides my family,” says Segel, who has a thriving film career awaiting him after the series’ March 31 finale. “We watched each other go through some really serious life stuff. People have gotten married and have children. That’s a really special thing.”
Hannigan, who by the start of HIMYM already had the successes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and American Pie under her belt, said she was certain the show wouldn’t last much beyond the pilot.
“It was so wonderful, and everybody got along so well and it was just such a great experience, and it was just too perfect,” she joked. “You are like, well, that’s doomsville.”
But the show persevered, charming fans with its oddball structure and freewheeling approach to time jumping. Not many multicamera sitcoms could go back and forth over decades and plant clues in one episode that might not pay off till several seasons later. To that point, creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas said that a segment filmed way back in 2006 will actually be featured in the series finale.
When asked to recall moments when his costars impressed him, Harris — whose career resurgence has stretched beyond HIMYM to include The Smurfs movies and regular awards hosting gigs — points to Radnor acting as the show’s steadying anchor.
“When we had our nice back-and-forth about Robin (Smulders) and we had some really nice dramatic sort of arguments scenes where we’re really going at each other, it reminded me of how much he solidifies the show and how his sincerity and authenticity is really unique to the multi-camera format,” Harris said. “Usually you’re going for the joke, and in turn, he was going for the intention.”
Despite the closeness of the core cast, new girl Cristin Milioti (a.k.a. “Your Mother”) said she has had no trouble fitting in.
“I was made to feel so welcome by everyone here … which has made this a dream come true for me,” she said. “I don’t know why I almost started crying right now, because I feel like I have no right to cry.”
How I Met Your Mother airs at 8pm Mondays on CBS.
Photo: © 2013 Fox Television Credit: Ron P. Jaffe