MoviesOnline sat down at a roundtable interview with Harris to talk about returning to create more mayhem with the duo in their new holiday misadventure. He told us why the idea of a Harold & Kumar Christmas movie made him laugh, how shooting the film’s big musical number compared to his work on Broadway, and what he thinks about the current state of the NPH legend. He also suggested it might be fun to do an ‘80s blaxploitation version of NPH with guns.
Q: Are these movies like a destructive comet that comes back into your life randomly?
NPH: [Laughs] Kind of, yeah. That’s a great description. I love it. I get to come in for two days and cause mayhem and then go back to my life.
Q: Was David immediately on board?
NPH: That was a little more massaging and finessing on my part. Originally he was involved in that first half of it and then he kind of just went away. Like we had a fight in the dressing room and then he kind of skulked off. I thought it made more sense for him to have a powerful position within the dynamic, so it was kind of my pitch to have him be my dealer because I thought that was funny. Actually the studio was kind of weirded out by that but they agreed in the end. I think it was a good call.
Q: In the second movie, you weren’t out yet because it took place the day after. When this one came along, did you want it to address where you were in real life?
NPH: Well, Jon and Hayden sat me down at a sushi dinner and said, “Here’s what our plans are for the third and what do you think of it?” They wanted to see if I was into the idea or not before they spent time writing it and then pitching later. I loved it. I was on board from the whole Christmas conceit. I thought that was the funniest idea ever. The idea of a Harold and Kumar Christmas movie just made me laugh. I think originally it was going to be myself paired with some other celebrity, as a Bing Crosbyish TV special with our eight kids, like a Branson, Missouri vibe.
Q: Not Bowie and Crosby?
NPH: Not Bowie and Crosby. I think they had mentioned Kelly Ripa, that Kelly and I were doing it, and then I tried to force myself onto her. But she was unavailable. She was filming their show in Prince Edward Island at the time we were filming it so she couldn’t do it. They ended up just having it be crazy me myself.
Q: What did you think of the way they used 3D?
NPH: I was impressed that they chose to film it in 3D as opposed to transfer it to 3D later, if for no other reason than for every shot they were having to contemplate how to make it impressive visually because the camera sort of demanded that. I think for people who are stoned watching the film, 3D’ll be dynamite. I think they kind of honored those visuals.
Q: Do you feel the character Neil Patrick Harris deserves his own film?
NPH: [Laughs] I’m always so wary of that being shark jumpy. I don’t know. It would be fun to do a whole movie where I was like an ‘80s blaxploitation NPH with guns.
Q: Are you happy with how far the NPH legend has gone?
NPH: It makes me scratch my head. It’s funny. Yeah, I think it’s funny. I’m glad that I’m able to, while the NPH legend is carrying on, that I’m allowed to do other roles like Barney or some theater stuff or get to have people see me as myself as well, so it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to create some sort of façade. Does that make sense? I’m glad it’s a tangent and not the only way you’re seeing me, because then it might feel like I’m trying to overcompensate for something.
Q: How do your fans see you? Do they have a hard time approaching you?
NPH: You know what’s funny, I find it amazingly funny that people know I’m in a relationship with a guy and we have two kids and yet super crazy frat guys are like, “Barney Stinson! Harold and Kumar, dude!” I like that dynamic.
Q: Isn’t that the ultimate goal we need, where people can play anything?
NPH: Sure, yeah. As actors you don’t want to have one label. You’d rather have seven.
Q: Do you have as lofty goals as I’m trying to articulate?
NPH: No, I’ve been acting for quite a long time so I’ve sort of lost the drive to prove myself outside of what I do. I’d love to act in roles that I haven’t played before but I don’t feel like I need to reach some pinnacle goal. I’m very happy with how career stuff is going right now.
Q: Have you played a gay character in film or television?
NPH: Yeah, for sure. I was Rupert Everett’s gay best friend in that Madonna Next Best Thing, Rupert Everett/Madonna movie. You know, that classic. I sang “American Pie” at my boyfriend’s gravesite. Yeah, poignant. Poignant and awkward.
Q: These films explain that being a slacker loser stoner is no longer just for privileged whites. It’s open to different communities. Is that message of inclusive screwed upness an important part of the franchise’s appeal?
NPH: [Laughs] What a great question and you hit it on the nose. Every day, all of us were hoping that that would happen, that that end result would be reached.
Q: You don’t really think that? Nobody talks about that.
NPH: Nobody does but you’ve cracked the egg, sir, and I’m glad.
Q: Did these movies start the NPH legend? And did you always want to do the first one?
NPH: Well, I do think – - Yeah, I guess it did because that’s the first sort of NPH-y discussion. It was sort of weirdly reverential even though I was such a mess in it and stole their car. They were still kind of like, “That was cool, I guess.” The first movie I was really concerned about because the franchise didn’t exist back then. You don’t want to sign up for something playing yourself and then have a new writer come on board and change the tone of it and suddenly they’re making jokes at your expense. I just legally was very specific about what my specific content entailed, and they were super cool with all of that.
Q: What was the first naughty movie you saw before you were supposed to?
NPH: Probably Porky’s. That little looking through into the shower scene. I felt strange tingling downstairs. I didn’t know what that meant.
Q: Were you trying to see it or it was just thrown in front of you?
NPH: More the latter. I’m the younger brother of two and my older brother, I got to experience all of that naughtiness before I was able to know what that meant really.
Q: Is it nice to have a kids movie like The Smurfs and this out in the same year?
NPH: Totally. I’m very keen on playing to specific and random demographics.
Q: Tom said he’d let his kids see this movie when they’re 7 [joking].
NPH: That’s Tom.
Q: How old will yours have to be?
NPH: Wow, there’s a lot in this movie. Probably a little older than 7.
Q: What other celebrities are faking it, gay or straight?
NPH: Oh God. No comment. That’s the kind of thing that begets me writing apology letters.
Q: Is Danny Trejo secretly Rotarian?
NPH: [Laughs] No comment on Trejo’s Rotarianism.
Q: Do you get Trick or Treaters at Halloween?
NPH: We moved to a new house so I’m excited to see. I hear not, but we’ve still got candy. We’re ready. We’re having a Halloween party tomorrow night so I’ve been spending all of my days painting.
Q: What are you going to be?
NPH: I’m Captain Hook to David’s Peter Pan. Harper’s Tinkerbell and Gideon is Smee. It’ll be a fun little family thing.
Q: Will the house be visibly decorated so Trick or Treaters know it’s open?
NPH: We have a gate in front of our house that will be open until like 7 or so and then we’ll close the gate and then it’s more of a big boy and girl party.
Q: Is this the first Halloween with the kids?
NPH: They were born on the 12th of October so it’s really the second one but they were two weeks old the first go-round. It’s hard to trick or treat with them because then you’ve got to throw them at the doorstep and wait for them to knock.
Q: James interrupts.
NPH: You’re like you’re from The Daily Show. I love it, go. I’m not even listening to your questions.
Q: Do you have any unique Christmas traditions?
NPH: Our family always dealt with stockings, rather than having Santa come and fill the stockings on Christmas morning, that the stockings were slowly filled throughout the month and it was a trust thing to not reach in and see what was going on inside. So the stockings were slowly filled by everyone which is kind of a cool tradition I think.
Q: Did you look?
NPH: I didn’t look. I actively don’t want to know. I would love, and I encourage my family, to tell me, “Don’t look in this closet. That’s where your presents are.” I don’t want to have to inadvertently find a gift and go like, “What the hell is – - oh no, that’s for me.” And then have to pretend like I’m surprised later. I won’t look. If I know where they’re hidden, I will not look. I love presents and I hate faking surprises.
Q: Does your family ask you to sing for the holidays?
NPH: To sing? Oh, we’re a very musical family so we sing all the time. Christmas Carols are very fun.
Q: How long did it take to learn the choreography and how did it compare to your Broadway work?
NPH: We did this in an afternoon in a recording studio and it was great fun. It’s really fun to do these things in a recording studio rather than having to do them live because you can embellish here and there and use funny weird references. You can riff if you want and see if that’s funny. We just angled towards what was funniest and cleanest.
Q: Would you want to reprise Dr. Horrible?
NPH: Oh, I’d love to. I think everyone in that little franchise would love to. We were about to make a movie of it and then timing, there’s only a window for myself and Nathan who’s on Castle and Joss directs big movies now. So to try and get everyone’s schedules to align is just very tricky, but that would be amazing.
Q: Where would you like to see Harold and Kumar go next?
NPH: I don’t know where they could go next.
NPH: Space, it’d be so fun to do cheesy wirework where they forced us to move in slow motion on weird green screen wires.
Q: Back in time.
NPH: Back in time, yeah, prehistoric.
Q: If someone called you Doogie, do you get angry?
NPH: Oh no, I played him. I get a lot of, “Hey Doogie, we love your new show.”
Q: When somebody calls you Doogie, do you reflect on a primitive word processor?
NPH: No, but I should get one for that.
Q: How would you rate Kal and John’s dancing?
NPH: Just terrible. But thankfully they were supposed to be terrible. That was intentional so they just brought them in in the rehearsal day at the very last minute for like an hour to figure out what was going to happen. But too polished was bad. Kal has a real fear of falling apparently. That thing they get knocked over at the end and fall out of frame, he had to fall into a big airbag thing that was literally four feet from where he was, and he just couldn’t do it without looking back. We had to coax him into trusting that he could fall back.
Q: Did you talk about his time at the White House?
NPH: I think it’s good for him. He’s following what he wants to do, right? They were kind of contractually obligated to do these films because the first one they signed had clauses that made them. They were going to make this movie last year and then Kal joined up with the White House so they had to hold off until he was done. No, I think it’s important that you follow what you want to do whether it’s a role or something in your life.
Q: Did he share any White House stories?
NPH: Not really, not really. I could ask him for some but I would want to honor that. I wouldn’t want to, “So what’s it really like? What’s Obama really like?” He’s very political in his own way, Kal, in even responding to things like that, as you will find out soon.
Q: Is it interesting working with him on How I Met Your Mother?
NPH: Yeah, it’s great. It’s the first thing he’s done as far as I know since spending two years in the White House, so he was oddly nervous, but he quickly got over that and he fits right in. He’s doing eight episodes this season.
Q: Are you getting tired of him riding your coattails?
NPH: [Laughs] No, not at all. Kal Penn’s a very, very talented actor.
Q: Do you think women will hit on you now after this movie?
NPH: After this movie, I think they might run from me. I tried to force myself inside one of them. It’s wild between NPH and Barney Stinson.
Q: Have you had female fans who really don’t know you’re gay and throw themselves at you?
NPH: I feel weirdly, and not to get political, but I think the time, the pendulum, paradigm has shifted a little bit. I think there’s lots of girls that I talk to that know that I’m gay and still are flirty. I flirt right back. I think flirting is great fun. It doesn’t mean that anything’s going to come of it but it’s fun to be told that you’re hot and that your tits look great. You all get your pens out.
Q: Did anything come up that was too much even for NPH?
NPH: Not really action wise. I don’t like to be disparaging about my past roles. That’s the only taboo that I don’t like to cross. I don’t think it’s funny to have cracked out NPH talking sh*t about Vinny. I just don’t think that’s funny.
Q: But getting thrown out of heaven is fine?
NPH: Yeah, for sure. I appreciate the difference between the two. If you look back on the first movie, he’s very wistful about that whole chapter and regretful and missing it. I think that’s a funnier take than “I’m too cool for my past.” That’s just not my style.
Q: Any advice for dads to be?
NPH: That’s such an open ended question. Babies just change everything. You have to become super selfless and super tired and super amenable to change. They just change all the time. I’m assuming as they get a little bit older it’ll stop being so radically different every week, but suddenly they’re reaching this level and suddenly you have to deal with this and suddenly they’re walking and you have to deal with that. It’s remarkable how it unifies you within the chaos.
Q: What are they getting for Christmas?
NPH: I can’t tell you or they would find out.
“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” opens in theaters on November 4th.