Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Neil Patrick Harris
Birthdate: June 15, 1973
Famous Years: 1989-Present
Currently Known For: A Series of Unfortunate Events
|Networth: $35 Million||Famous For: Doogie Howser, M.D., How I Met Your Mother, Starship Troopers|
June 15, 1973
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Doogie Howser, M.D., How I Met Your Mother, Starship Troopers
Not all former child actors have made a smooth transition into acting as an adult. Some have gone down a wayward path while others completely walked away from acting for good. In the case of Neil Patrick Harris, he’d go through some of the struggles that a young actor would go through, but ended up returning to the spotlight to become more popular than ever.
Harris was born on June 15, 1973 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and grew up in the state. At a young age, Harris wanted to get into acting, and was able to break into Hollywood at a time when child actors weren’t as commonly used, meaning there was high demand. When he was in his teenage years, Harris would start to land his first roles. In 1988, he appeared in the movies “Clara’s Heart” and “Purple People Eater”. He was also in the TV films “Too Good to Be True” and “Cold Sassy Tree”. In 1989, he’d get his biggest role to that point as the title character in “Doogie Howser, M.D.”
The show would last for nearly 100 episodes over the course of four seasons and was often highly rated. Harris was an instant star thanks to the series, but it seemed that his momentum had stopped when it came to an end in 1993. He wouldn’t leave acting for good, but most of his credits were in TV films and on stage, with his next big screen movies not coming until the later parts of the 1990s (such as “Starship Troopers” and “The Proposition”).
It was a hard time for Harris who had tried to maintain his star status, but wasn’t landing roles as notable as “Doogie Howser”. “I grew up in a world where if you were on TV, you were a TV actor,” he said. “Casting directors wouldn’t hire you for movies, and movie people would never do TV, so you had this weird divide. But now you get to do it all.”
After his series ended, Harris said that “There are all kinds of traumatic aspects to a youth being scrutinized. I was, I think, very worried that I would never get to act again. I’ve always wanted to work, and I’ve been very reticent about the fame and the acclaim, because it’s rare that you get genuine acclaim. There’s usually another shoe to drop: ‘This is good...but not as good as the last thing you did,’ or, ‘You’re the toast of the town.’ And then the toast burns.”
After struggling to land in notables roles, 2004 would mark a turning point for Harris. The role in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” helped to revitalize Harris's career as people were reminded of the former child star, putting him back into the limelight. He played an extremely exaggerated version of himself who got into quite a bit of mischief, and helped him to land roles that would exceed his expectations. “I agree that my career changed after that,” he said. “So weird to think that ‘Harold and Kumar’ would be responsible for it. Just goes to show that you can never predict what project will accomplish what.”
Thanks to his role in the stoner comedy, Harris was offered the role of the suave and over-the-top character Barney Stinson on the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”. The series would prove to be a big hit for CBS, lasting for nine seasons and airing more than 200 episodes. It also made Harris one of the highest paid actors on television, as his character quickly became a fan favorite.
While playing Stinson, Harris would be nominated for multiple Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Though he wouldn’t win, Harris would be nominated for the award on four occasions. In 2010, he got his first Emmy wins, collecting an award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series on “Glee” and for the Tony Awards. He’s won three Emmy Awards since then for his work with the Tony Awards, and was nominated once again in 2018 for Outstanding Children’s Program in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix.
Harris has also found himself on the big screen more often ever since then debut of “How I Met Your Mother”. He’d star in films such as “Beastly” and “The Smurfs”, and more recently in “A Million Ways to Die in the West”, “Gone Girl” and “Downsizing”. He’s also stuck to his roots on stage, and has been in more than a dozen productions since 2000, including the likes of “Sweeney Todd” and more recently with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”.
Unlike many former child actors, Harris is grateful for the role that made him famous in the form of “Doogie Howser”, even if it meant having to hear people reference it for years. It was a character that he came to love, but his role on “How I Met Your Mother” remains his favorite. For Harris, it was “probably the best job on TV, to get to play a role that’s as crazy as Barney, yet so stylish,” he said. “What a fun thing to play; someone who’s damaged, but just thinks he’s fantastic. And I got to act with an amazing cast of people.”