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Stars & the City: Neil Patrick Harris

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

The Tony-winning Broadway veteran shares why he finds New York City so alluring

Neil Patrick Harris is no stranger to the Broadway stage, having won a Tony in 2007 for his titular performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He currently stars in two television series that are aimed at kids, but will also entertain grownups. In the second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, the Emmy- and Tony-winning actor returns as dastardly Count Olaf. Harris also hosts and produces the NBC game show Genius Junior, on which brilliant youngsters test their smarts with ridiculously complex quizzes and vie for the Genius Junior title.

Neil Patrick Harris shares why he loves New York City (Photo: Neil Patrick Harris)

Neil Patrick Harris shares why he loves New York City (Photo: Neil Patrick Harris)

Tell us about season two of A Series of Unfortunate Events?
Neil Patrick Harris:
In season one, we spent a lot of time creating a world and setting up the story where the children find themselves without parents. They go from from keeper to keeper. They were understandably shell-shocked, trying just to figure out what was happening. In season two, they are well aware of what's going on and we can now move at a quicker pace. They are required to take more action and put the onus on themselves. Where we were marching in season one, we're pretty much sprinting in season two. Olaf, with great confidence and a calm resolve, thought that his plans to get their fortune would be easy and relatively effortless. And now he is becoming a bit more desperate. 

Olaf is so villainous. Are there any qualities in Olaf that you admire? 
Neil Patrick Harris:
He has such bravado and confidence. He thinks he is a great actor. He thinks he is very handsome. He thinks he is wildly successful. So I guess I applaud his delusion.

Genius Junior is a game show that really celebrates kids and their wisdom. Were you always a fan of the game show genre? 
Neil Patrick Harris:
I always loved game shows. I have watched them since I was a kid growing up. I was born in 1973. So when I was 10 or 11, Sale of the Century, Press Your Luck, Wheel of Fortune were daily viewing for me. I love hosting game nights at my house. So I always thought that might be something I would get to do. And having hosted a show for NBC previously, and hosting award shows, it seemed like a good fit. I’m a parent too, so I'm keenly conscious of what kids are watching and how they are processing education. To be able to have a game show that highlights kids’ impressive talents, which are immensely inspirational and achievable to other kids who are watching, seemed like a no-brainer. Pardon the pun. 

What qualities do you hope to give your kids? 
Neil Patrick Harris:
I believe it is important for kids to be empowered to follow their own passion, whatever that might be. I’m a big believer in experiential education, as well as academics and learning from books. I want them to experience as much as they can and have the power to process information individually. David and I both try to give Harper and Gideon many different viewpoints and points of reference. Living in New York is spectacular. On a subway you are in the world. You have to make decisions based on things that are factors you might not have planned. New York is a character in their play.

When you are not working, what do you love to do in New York City? 
Neil Patrick Harris: The museums are spectacular.  I love all the immersive theater here. And theater in general here is great, whether it’s a Broadway musical or a small off-Broadway showcase by someone pretty talented. I just saw Sleep No More again for I think the tenth time. It was fantastic. It's a great town to just wander. We spend a lot of time in the Museum of Natural History. I love that big giant whale that hovers over everyone. 

Will you come back to Broadway? 
Neil Patrick Harris
: I would love to come back to Broadway at some point. It's quite a time commitment. When you join forces with a show, you need the time to rehearse, then have previews and then the run. So that’s a half a year or more. I have so many other things that are going on simultaneously. It’s kind of hard to stop and do anything. Also, the kids are at such a great age.  I don't think that that schedule aligns with me and them right now. I always like to have family dinners together. I like to read books with them and put them to bed. When you're doing the show on Broadway, you lose your nights. So someday, I hope. 
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