DETAILS: You reinvented yourself by sending up your persona in the Harold & Kumar movies. Have they ever asked you to do anything that you said no to?
Neil Patrick Harris: Not much. The only thing that didn't happen in the new movie is I was going to invite a dancer girl back to my dressing room and try to rape her. That was supposed to be Kelly Ripa, but Kelly was off filming Live! I think she would have loved to have done it . . . They do keep threatening to write a "Neil Patrick Harris" movie, a seventies blaxploitation movie where I kick ass and take names.
DETAILS: Doogie Howser, M.D., the show that made you famous, has been running on the Hub channel lately. Do you ever flip over and watch it?
Neil Patrick Harris: Occasionally. It's a strange flashback because it feels, literally, like a lifetime ago. And yet when I'm watching, I remember where we were on location and where the trailers were. I was tired a lot. Whenever I wasn't in school with a tutor three hours a day, I'd get a knock and be rushed to set and they'd be waiting and I'd film my thing and then I'd go back to school again.
DETAILS: Besides Harold & Kumar, you appeared in The Smurfs, The Muppets, and Beastly this year, not to mention the latest season of How I Met Your Mother. Having two kids doesn't seem to have slowed you down.
Neil Patrick Harris: Well, I'm having to say no to things, like a fun voiceover, that I would probably say yes to otherwise, because it involves an afternoon of driving to Santa Monica and recording. I need to stop carving out four-hour chunks to do random things and go home and watch my children grow up.
DETAILS: Rumor has it that you and your longtime partner, David Burtka, are getting married. Is it true?
Neil Patrick Harris: It's complicated. David proposed to me five and a half years ago in New York on the same street corner where we met. The following year on Valentine's Day in Santa Monica, one of my gifts was a ring and I proposed to him. Then, when the marriage-equality stuff was on the tipping point in New York, where we have residency because we have an apartment there, it seemed my responsibility to at least tweet about it—to say, "Please vote for marriage equality in New York, it would be nice to get married someday." It passed, and then someone tweeted David asking if we were going to get married, to which David replied, "Yes, I proposed to Neil and he proposed to me." Which I think sounded immediate and wasn't. It's exactly what we didn't want to do, because we contemplated getting married in California, before the Prop 8 debacle, and I opted not to immediately because I didn't want it to be a media event. I didn't want to go marching down the street with camera crews. Oy. To get married? Really? It seems like you have an agenda when you do it that way. I wouldn't want to get married to be an example. I'm hoping we'll be able to get married in California soon, but there are no plans afoot.
DETAILS: Do you feel any responsibility to represent on the gay marriage issue?
Neil Patrick Harris: No. Everyone has an individual experience. To try to declare yourself a larger representative is dangerous. I just do my thing, we have our life.
DETAILS: You came out five years ago. What's changed for you since then?
Neil Patrick Harris: Being able to live my life transparently does empower me to feel like I can be myself more. It's easier for me to flirt with girls now that girls know that I'm gay. It almost makes it a sexier encounter than if I was trying to pretend that I was straight.
DETAILS: Do you think it's cost you any roles?
Neil Patrick Harris: I can't answer that. I play a pretty hard-core poon-hound on TV. But there may be producers who are averse to me because I come with baggage. They're allowed. There are a lot of movies out there.
DETAILS: You just became the president of the board of the Magic Castle, the private club in Hollywood. Do you perform?
Neil Patrick Harris: Magic's been my thing ever since I grew up in a tiny town in New Mexico. But because free time for me is at a premium, I only perform on talk shows—I'm a talk-show magician. So I'll get a call from Ellen saying, "Will you do magic?" and then I'll call my best friend, Ed Alonzo, who's also a magician, or I'll call Teller and say, "What do I do?" I should get a little think tank together and pay them money to come up with a routine that I can actually perform.
DETAILS: There's been lots of talk about next year's awards shows. You're one of the few guys who gets good reviews for hosting. Why is it such a hard job?
Neil Patrick Harris: As much as you prepare for it, you can't accurately determine the temperature of the audience. That's the skill that's learned, reading an audience. Or if something crazy happens, how do you respond to it, you know? A dude just got cracked in the head by a piece of scenery—do you act like it didn't happen and roll on with the TelePrompTer, or do you make a joke at his expense? You have to answer all these questions immediately and you only have one shot. That's intense.
DETAILS: It's gotta be a little annoying that they never ask you to host the Oscars, right?
Neil Patrick Harris: Not annoying. I think the best hosts of Oscars are movie people and for the most part, my day job is on television. Someday, maybe. And yet, if you make one misstep in that game . . . I mean, poor James Franco!