Neil Patrick Harris Hated The Title Of How I Met Your Mother

As much as actors, writers, and artists in general dream big about the next project they have lined up, the truth is few (if anyone) can predict when a specific movie or show contains the mysterious alchemy that adds up to a runaway pop culture phenomenon. After "How I Met Your Mother" first aired in 2005, however, it didn't take viewers long to figure out that had a lot going for it. There was its impeccably cast quartet of stars and their easy chemistry with one another, the wide-ranging tone that allowed for high jinks and drama in equal measure, and especially the clever framing device and elevator pitch-friendly premise that promised a satisfying payoff to almost a decade of story. (Whether the divisive ending actually lived up to the hype, of course, is another matter entirely.)

And yet, one crucial aspect of the hit show didn't immediately appeal to star Neil Patrick Harris, back when he initially auditioned for the role of Barney Stinson. While the title of the series easily rolls off the tongue in retrospect, Harris counted himself among the many doubters who raised an eyebrow at the jumbled mouthful. The actor said as much — with a smile, mind you — in a recent career retrospective.

'Who names a show How I Met Your Mother?'

Every actor has their audition horror stories. Characters as written on the page can remain largely in flux, the sheer amount of competition can be intimidating, and there's no guarantee that all the preparation and patience will ever have been worth it. Oh, and sometimes the very title of the production can leave an actor completely befuddled. In an interview with GQ, Neil Patrick Harris had this to say about his initial thoughts on the show that took on a life of its own:

"I got an audition for this show called 'How I Met Your Mother,' which I thought was a terrible title, when you have 'Friends' and 'Three's Company,' you know, something that looks good on a cap. [...] And I thought it would just be up to pilot and would never go, because of the title. Who names a show 'How I Met Your Mother'? There's not even any rhyming to it. Like, a bunch of basic words put together as a sentence; it's not a title. But I digress."

Intriguingly enough, Harris also describes how the character of Barney changed, thanks entirely to his carefree mindset during his audition. "I read the part and it was to play someone who was rotund, cigar-smoking, Jack Black [kind of character] and I thought ... I'm not going to get this job." As it turned out, bringing that sort of energy to the role of Barney Stinson was precisely what helped him get the job in the first place. Some aspects of the show haven't aged quite so well — the entire character of the womanizing, harassing, and belligerent Barney chief among them — but nobody gives the title a second thought. Funny how things work out!