28th Sep2013

Interview: How I Met You Mother’s Josh Randor & Pamela Fryman

by Phil Wheat

With Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother coming to DVD on Monday we got the chance to sit down with the cast and crew to discuss the series’ history and its forthcoming final season… First up is Josh Radnor, who plays Ted on the show; along with series director Pamela Fryman.


Hi Josh, why are you limping?

Josh Radnor: I’ve broken my toe. I’ve broken my fifth metatarsal. We’re shooting around me. I’m figuring that if we can hide three pregnancies, we can hide a broken foot! By the way, this is Pam Fryman, our director, who has directed almost every episode of How I Met Your Mother except for, like, five.

Pamela Fryman: Then I just wasn’t in the mood.

Josh Radnor: She was redoing her kitchen. She was not coming in.

So let’s just address exactly how many nightmare girlfriends Ted has had… have you kept track of all of the dates you’ve had on the show?

Josh Radnor: I haven’t kept track, but actually the fans are the unofficial record keepers of the show. Someone sent me a collage of all of Ted’s girlfriends, and there were a lot. There were way more than I thought there would be. It was two rows of photographs of all of Ted’s girlfriends. I don’t know how many there were, but it was shocking. And some of them I went, “Who is that?” like, “Oh, I forgot I actually dated that person!” They might have just been in one episode. But there have been a lot. Of course, it’s all fake, you know.

Pamela Fryman: The fans are constantly putting stuff out about Ted, specifically, so Josh is always seeing stuff about his character through the eyes of the fans because it’s always something. There’s stuff on YouTube. There are songs.

Josh Radnor: Yeah, weird musical montages and people splice together photos… what are they? Memes, is that what they are called? I know all the terms! So yeah, it’s weird.

Who has been your favourite love interest, other than Robin?

Josh Radnor: Some of them are just one episode type of deals – we have all had one-episode relationships! We’ve all had guest stars! – but some of them are very special guest stars that stay around for a little longer. It’s sad, because Sarah Chalke (‘Stella’) was so amazing, and Jennifer Morrison (‘Zoey’), and Ashley Williams (‘Victoria’). Ashley is the only one that they didn’t really turn into a villain at the end, to get her off the show. Zoey and Stella kind of turned into villainesses a little bit. But I love all three of those actresses. I guess, in some ways, just as a character, there is a soft spot for Ashley just because that was the first season; that ‘Drumroll, Please’ episode has always been one of my favorites, where they met at that wedding. So to have her come back and still have that buoyant, fun energy between them – there is just something great about that. And I run into Ashley all the time and we just really get a kick out of each other. That said, Sarah Chalke and Jennifer Morrison are pretty amazing people also, so I couldn’t pick a favourite, really.

You have such avid fans of the show…

Josh Radnor: Yeah, and I love the fact that the fans know the show better than we know the show, because we shoot an episode and move on. They watch an episode five times, or rewind, obsess over it, talk to their friends about it, and it’s more alive for them on some level. We’re just putting one foot in front of the other and making the show. So it’s great to go to an event like Comic Con, because then you really get a sense of the impact the show is having collectively. We don’t really get that a lot. When you’re in the groove with work, you got to work, you go home, it’s a very womb-like experience. We’re on this stage at the Fox lot and we’re shooting the show and you forget that it’s being beamed out to all these millions of people.

Pamela Fryman: I think it would be a little bit different if we shot in front of an audience, because we’d get some feedback every week and that would be great, but because we don’t, just to be sitting there at Comic Con thinking, “Oh my gosh, people are actually watching!” Even though you know they are, to see them and to hear that applause, and hear them laugh, hear the reaction, it’s very gratifying.

In the early stages, did you ever imagine that the show would go to this many seasons and get to this point that you’re at now. Do you remember the turning point where you felt like, “Okay, we’re really solid here?”

Pamela Fryman: I certainly remember early on waiting for that pick up and you didn’t know whether it was going to come. And then I think after our Britney Spears episode, which was a very highly rated episode, we just started growing in popularity. At one point we got a two-year pick up so we were like, “Oh my gosh!”

Josh Radnor: Some series explode right out of the gate and diminish in both quality and viewership over time. We were the opposite. I felt like our quality was always there, but we were a different show. We really introduced some stuff that is now commonplace in some ways. I was talking with Carter (Bays) and Craig (Thomas) last night about how there was this new fashion of serialized arcs, and that’s what Carter and Craig excel at, and what they always wanted to do: follow the locket or follow these different threads. The network initially was like, “No, do more standalone episodes. We want new people to just tune in and be able to watch the show.” But I feel like in some ways we just did what we did really well, and then the public mood caught up to us. But I think that the DVDs really helped, because they became things that people would pass around. It just gathered all this momentum. So it was quiet for those first few years, but I also had this confidence that it was just too good not to stick around. It felt like we’d got all guns firing on this show. And in some ways, because the network and the studio let Carter and Craig make their weird show and pick their music and do their thing, I feel like by the end, you’re at the top of the mountain and you look back, and you say, “Wow, we got to do some incredibly strange, amazing moments of television, because people weren’t paying that much attention at first.”

Pamela Fryman: I think that’s true. I think we did well enough in our time slot, then all of a sudden we had this young demographic and they liked that about us.

Josh Radnor: We were essentially brought in on some level to get younger viewers and we always did that.

Pamela Fryman: And to be able to have this last season and finish the story the way Carter and Craig always imagined ending it is so gratifying. It is sort of amazing that we’re even sitting here at this point… I don’t quite know how we got here.

You guys look like you’re having a lot of fun on set. Obviously, you all get along great. Do you make each other laugh? And does that result in a lot of bloopers and a gag reel for the Season 8 DVD?   

Josh Radnor: Do we have a lot of bloopers? Yeah! We do a gag reel every year and it’s pretty long.

Pamela Fryman: It’s incredibly long.

Josh Radnor: The wrap party where they unveil the gag reel is always, honestly, one of my favourite events of the year, because a) you see how much we’ve done all year – you can’t believe it, you’re like, “That episode was this year? It feels like so long ago.” Plus b) you see just the level of loose energy, the comedic looseness on set.

Pamela Fryman: It’s just fun, and we don’t shoot the show in front of an audience so we are the audience. And we still make each other laugh.

Josh Radnor: Maybe some of the bloopers come from desperation, like, “Oh they laughed three times and they’re not laughing on this fourth take!”

Pamela Fryman: I mean, the actors always know their lines.

Josh Radnor: But we all have our moments where you think, “I’m a professional actor and I’m not behaving like one!” But let’s not go into it, Pam.

Can you talk about shooting that final scene with the mother that we now know is played by Cristin Miloti?

Josh Radnor: She was amazing. We brought her in and it was under cover of darkness. I mean, it was really top secret.
Pamela Fryman: And the great thing was that the first scene we shot with her when she asked for that train ticket, all the background people that we work with, our crew, writers’ assistants, everybody was in that scene, and when she walked on the stage we literally got to turn to everybody – because nobody had met her, even the people that we’d been working with forever – and we got to say, “Ladies and gentlemen… the mother!” It was thrilling for everybody because we’ve been waiting a long time.

Josh Radnor: And Cristin has such an easy-going personality that she’s easy to kind of fold into this very tight-knit group for whatever reason. That’s the luck of the chemistry draw. When they cast the five of us they didn’t know if it would all work together and for some reason it did, so maybe we have some good chemistry karma, I don’t know.

Pamela Fryman: She fits beautifully.

Josh Radnor: Yeah, she really does.


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