“Be kind, be interested in other people, be friendly, be polite, be curious. Don’t give up your character for some short-term gain.”
These were the parting words that the “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor offered to nearly 400 Ohio Wesleyan University students on Wednesday evening in the Chappelear Drama Center.
The popular CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” (abbreviated by fans as HIMYM) is now in its 9th season and nearing the series finale in just two episodes. The show centers around Radnor’s character, Ted Mosby, and his friends’ lives in Manhattan. The all-star cast includes Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel.
Radnor’s visit had been in the works since October. The Campus Programming Board (CPB) gave out tickets to the student body at a promotional showing of Radnor’s movie “Liberal Arts” and in the Hamilton-Williams Center during specified periods of time.
“That line blew up within minutes,” said CPB External President Bill Boaz (Sophomore, Psychology). “Anytime you bring somebody who is experienced and successful at accomplishing their dreams, the campus will respond. Josh is a popular actor and we knew it would draw a large crowd.”
Growing up in Bexley, a Columbus suburb, Radnor has local ties to the area and was the only one of his HIMYM castmates who did not have a performing arts or child actor upbringing. During his talk he discussed at length his background, which many in the audience could certainly relate to. He explained how a friend at school wanted company while she auditioned for “Oklahoma,” which then ended up being an audition for Radnor, as well. He then performed in shows at his high school and in the community. However, he went on to attend college at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
“I told my parents I’d major in English, but then secretly I spent all my time in the drama department,” Radnor confessed.
Budding artists in the audience were certainly given plenty of advice to take note.
On how to decipher a good script from a bad one
Radnor explained that if it’s easy to memorize, it’s good. When he first read for HIMYM he said, “I only looked at it twice and I knew it.”
On being compared to his character, Ted Mosby
“He’s a version of me on some weird level. He’s like my annoying, younger brother – we’re definitely related, but he makes decisions that make me roll my eyes a lot.”
On writing his movies “Happythankyoumoreplease” and “Liberal Arts”
“Happythankyoumoreplease” was written in Hawaii while Radnor sat next to Jason Segel (who was writing “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” at the same time). “When it comes to writing I enjoy traveling. If you’re sitting in the same place every time you write, you’ll have the same thoughts. So when I travel, I have new experiences that lend themselves to new thoughts and help with the whole writing process.”
On going to college instead of heading straight for NYC or LA
“Go to college. The more wind you have in your sails, the better.”
“Kindness goes a long way. You don’t have to be a tyrant, but at the end of the day you should thank everyone who you’ve just worked with. Thank the crew, the actors, the director, the writers, the production assistants – everyone!” Radnor also emphasized that Hollywood and Broadway are places where dues have to be paid. “Work your way up. You’ve got to humble yourself a little bit. Remember this word: apprentice.”
As Radnor wrapped up his 90 minute conversation with the Ohio Wesleyan students, one theme rang true – kindness. “If I’ve learned anything in my acting journey, it’s been that kindness is a premium and character matters. I never gave up being from the Midwest in my values.”
The only sneak peek that Radnor gave the audience into the anticipated finale is that it’s a tear-jerker and to have the tissues ready. And in a beautiful, artistic way, the final scene the crew filmed was Radnor and “The Mother” (played by Cristin Milioti) meeting for the first time. Watch CBS this Monday, March 24 for “The End of the Aisle” and then March 31 for part one of the finale, “Last Forever.”