Neil Patrick Harris Talks About Digital Art, PNCA, Hedwig, HIMYM, and Why Actors Need Good Dermatologists
Aug 26, 2014
How did you get involved in the Art of the Pixel?
LG reached out to me because they know I’m a fan and proponent of art—David [Burtka, Harris’s fiancé] and I have a nice contemporary art collection—and they wanted to involve me in this competition. I thought it was a good fit: technology plus education plus art.
Do you collect digital art yourself?
Not so much, to be honest. We mainly have watercolors and works on paper. I’ve never felt that digital art was worth collecting, given that the technology wasn’t able to catch up with the design elements of it. Digital art’s hard—and even in the last 5 or 10 years—because the size of the technology you needed was cumbersome: either a giant TV or a giant projector.
Now that screens are getting smaller and flatter and more resolution, it’s making it easier to watch. Actually, we just bought a Jennifer Steinkamp piece that’s a projection of digital art that I got for David for Valentine’s Day, so I guess we have one piece.
You went from hyper heterosexual playboy Barney Stimson in How I Met Your Mother to playing the transgender rocker Hedwig on Broadway, which closed a couple weeks ago. Who was more fun to play?
Wow, that’s a real apples to oranges question, since they were so vastly different in every way, not only in character but also in skillsets. I think Hedwig as a singular piece is really exciting to do night after night, whereas Barney’s veracity, although in many ways similar to hers, was only done a few times, but there were a lot more scenes. It was mining new stuff for every performance as opposed to honing in on one singular idea.
I know there was some hesitation before it opened or even reached the stage that Hedwig was too racy for Broadway. Did you think it would have the legs that it’s had?
I was intrigued to see how an audience was going to respond to it and was delighted by the almost uniform welcome that it received night after night. I thought people might’ve been more conflicted about the storyline, but it’s got a real universal appeal: the idea of looking for completion in love rings true with most people.
Would you say it changed you as an actor or challenged you in ways you hadn’t been challenged?
Yeah, it was certainly challenging in almost every way. But I feel like most jobs, if you’re committed to them, then you’re working hard to get that change in you in overt and subtle ways as well. There’s different postures, different vocal inflections, different principles you can stand on.
What’s next for you?
Next I’m just going to rest for a bit. I’ve been working pretty consistently for the last half a dozen years, and I’ve loved it. But I have a family and we’ve moved to a new city, and I’d really like to plant some roots and take a breath.
Read more on portlandmonthlymag.com