Q & Andy: Neil Patrick Harris


And the winner for most charismatic entertainer goes to (as it always does) . . . Neil Patrick Harris. In each of his four appearances as the host of the Tony Awards, the former star of Doogie Howser, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother has won an Emmy for Outstanding Special Program. And after a Tony-winning run as the lead in the latest incarnation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch last year, the newlywed father is gearing up to host the biggest ball of them all, the 87th Academy Awards, on February 22. Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that he has such great taste in movies. 

ANDY WARHOL: How were you discovered?

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: At a weeklong summer camp in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The brilliant playwright Mark Medoff plucked me out of obscurity to star in the movie Clara’s Heart [1988].

WARHOL: What was your first job?

HARRIS: I worked at a bookstore in Ruidoso, New Mexico, when I was eight or nine. It was called the Aspen Tree, and it was amazing.

WARHOL: Who was the nicest person you worked for?

HARRIS: That’s a tough one, as I’ve been very fortunate. My first thought? Kelly Ripa. She is lovely and hilarious and savvy and unbearably generous—always available for a suggestion, a piece of advice, or a cocktail.

WARHOL: What’s the craziest thing a fan has sent you?

HARRIS: Once a fan sent me a long letter telling me that she was going to kill herself. She didn’t follow through. In fact, the next day she sent me another letter about shopping in the mall.

WARHOL: Is there anything you regret not doing?

HARRIS: I regret not dancing more, just cutting loose on the dance floor. I still admire those who don’t care much about what others think of them.

WARHOL: Do you dance at home?

HARRIS: When you have twin four-year-olds, you are able to dance like a fool, often. And I do.

WARHOL: What are your beauty secrets?

HARRIS: Moisturizer. Every night. No one wants to be leather face.

WARHOL: What’s your favorite movie?

HARRIS: Ooh, I have lots. The Goonies (1985), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Clue (1985), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Waiting for Guffman (1996), The Game (1997).

WARHOL: Do you have a dream role?

HARRIS: I’d love to be some sort of villain in a big-budget action movie. Or a superhero franchise. That’d be rad.

WARHOL: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve performed for?

HARRIS: I sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium with my father when I was a teenager. It was a dream of his and I was more than happy to oblige.

WARHOL: When do you get nervous?

HARRIS: I’m not good at cocktail party situations, small talk from one stranger to the next. Oh, and hosting the Oscars—that’ll be a doozy.

WARHOL: Are you a good cook?

HARRIS: Thankfully, my husband is a trained chef, so I get to defer to him. I’m a good sous chef. I take orders well.

WARHOL: Do you get depressed if you don’t work?

HARRIS: Oh man, not at all. I like to stay busy, but lately I’ve been fantasizing about doing absolutely nothing. I’ve been watching episodes of This Old House and yearning to, like, refinish a floor.

WARHOL: Do you think it is vanity to worry so much about what you look like?

HARRIS: I actually think it’s good to care about your appearance. But then I see some twentysomething male model with unkempt hair and ripped clothes, and I think that’d be cool, too. Although, he likely spent more time on his look than anyone.

WARHOL: What do you think about love?

HARRIS: Love is awesome and endless, but it is constantly changing its form. You love something for what it is, then it changes. But that change can make you love it even more.