At the time, I was working as the Arts Editor for Ohio State University’s student newspaper, The Lantern. Being a daily publication, it was a position that took up most, well really all of my time. But I, and the rest of the editorial staff, pushed through each long night because we knew the commitment would one day lead us to our dream jobs. But the sometimes strenuous, underpaid job, which resulted in the lack of a social life, didn’t come without perks; at least I can say so for my position. As the head of an entertainment section at an award-winning newspaper, the opportunities presented to me were ones I was neither prepared for, nor expected. I had the chance to interview popular bands, actors, comedians and more – yes, I considered myself quite lucky. Justin Timberlake, Terry Crews, David Della Rocco and Steve Carell are just a few of the people I had the honor to speak with. But not even JT’s flawless face or Carell’s one-liners could compare to the interview that will remain the most memorable to me – the time I met Josh Radnor.
So now that the beloved series, “HIMYM,” is coming to an end TODAY, I wanted to share my experience with you and also reflect on not only how much the show and its characters have taught me, but also how much the actor behind the lead character has taught me.
I was an avid “How I Met Your Mother” binge-watcher, so when it was announced the actor, who plays Ted Mosby in the sitcom, would be visiting OSU; I jumped at the chance to get an interview. I assumed my request would either get shot down, or result in a short phone interview. To my surprise, I was told I would be able to chat with him in person before the event – commence mental breakdown.
I feel obligated to say although I was a fan of the CBS show, Radnor’s character wasn’t my favorite. Truthfully out of the five-person gang, Ted was actually pretty low on the list of who I was attached to. It wasn’t that I disliked Ted, I just didn’t relate to the whole hopeless romantic, my-soul-mate-is-out-there-and-I-have-to-find-her mentality. Not that it’s not inspiring, or a bad personality to have – I just got more enjoyment out of Barney’s antics and Robin’s fear of commitment – both more up my alley. Regardless, Radnor is a great actor, writer and director so I was still a nervous wreck the day of the interview.
That morning I stood in my closet, aimlessly staring while trying to decide what outfit best said “I think you’re amazing. I swear I’m trying to be professional and not desperate, but if you’re single we should get a drink,” before deciding on a coral-shaded maxi skirt and white blazer. The rest of that day, and each class I attended, is pretty much a blur. But from the minute I made my walk across campus, notepad full of questions and voice recorder in hand, sweat seeping through my white blazer that I immediately regretted choosing to wear on such a warm day, I can remember each detail.
Making my way through the crowded Ohio Union, weaving through the sea of students, I attempt to slow my heart race down by thinking of what I’ll have to eat later, and wipe my sweaty palms on the side of my skirt – but this doesn’t disguise my anxiety. I shouldn’t be this uneasy; I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews successfully since my start as a journalist. But this is different. What if I stutter through my questions? What if he can see the teenage football player amount of perspiration? I shouldn’t be having these thoughts – but it’s not every day you interview the star of one of the most popular shows on television, and in person, one on one for that matter.
As I’m escorted to a back room my mind is filled with curiosity about how this will turn out. After a couple knocks on the door and a polite “It’s open,” I walk into the minuscule room in which Josh is residing prior to his campus lecture. I take a brief glance of the ambience and notice an olive-hued couch to my left then a moderately-sized table adorned by several bowls of assorted nuts alongside a familiar, scruffy face to my right. “Am I indeed meeting the actor who plays Ted Mosby?” is the only thought I can fathom before finally bringing myself to timidly mutter out “Hi Josh, it’s so nice to meet you.” There’s a slight dose of stammering small talk before Josh leads me to that olive couch.
As I watch him slouch back into the cushions I begin to read through my first question but am stopped immediately.
“Before you ask anything, I have a couple questions for you,” he says. I can only imagine how noticeable the shocked expression on my face is as I wait for him to continue.
“Where are you from?” “Where did you go to high school?” “Do you like OSU?” “Why journalism?” “What do you want to do after graduation?” are among the line of questioning he fires my way. I graciously answer each inquiry and continue to my own.
After a couple of necessary “How I Met Your Mother-” related questions I grasp that Josh is nothing like his character, Ted Mosby. But this realization isn’t disheartening. In fact, the actor is much more than I expected. Fifteen minutes of natural conversation later and I forgot I was in an interview. As Josh is answering a question about his appeal to directing, we are told that our time is up and he must get ready for his appearance. Indifferent to the time, Josh finishes his response and requests that I go ahead with any questioning I had left. I thank him for his time and apologize for holding him and as I walk out and back through the Union, I’m not just more relaxed but astonished. Josh Radnor may be most well known as Ted Mosby, but he’s also an affable, compassionate writer, director and artist. In less than a half an hour I went from being elated to meet one of the actors behind a beloved character, to tenacious about showing the world that he is so much more than that character. The talent and personality behind Ted Mosby was a story to be told, and one I was humbled to write!
And although through his longer-than-planned lecture to my alma mater, he showed each student in attendance that he’s a person to admire, I feel as though through my 15 minutes of alone time with him, I gained insight into the mind behind one of the world’s most well-known characters.
Looking back on the experience, one thing that has stuck to me is that Josh was much nicer to me than he had to be. That might be attributed to him being in his hometown of Columbus, hell maybe he was just bored talking about himself, resulting in his own questioning of my life. Either way, it was refreshing.
Through his show’s nine seasons I have learned many things: make life legen – wait for it – dary, do what makes you happy, nothing good happens after 2 a.m., your past doesn’t define your future, and probably my favorite, courtesy of Barney – when you’re sad, stop being sad and be awesome instead.
With that being said, I think meeting Josh taught me even more.
I’d like to think the man I met in September of last year really is the down to earth, respectful, groovy person he comes off to be. But even if that isn’t the case, I appreciate what I learned from him: don’t judge someone based on a character they play on TV, writing and directing are just as important art forms as acting, and friendliness, a too-often forgotten courtesy, can brighten anyone’s day.
I can still remember one thing he said in our interview that shaped my perspective on him as a person.
“I care about being friendly and open and I value that,” he told me. “I don’t think that being cool or aloof is cool. I think that it’s nicer to be nice.”
Ah, yes. Totally, Josh!
And if you’re interested in reading the story that came from this interview, here it is!