Josh Radnor: musician, director, writer, actor – former architect (Picture: Rex)
Josh Radnor spent a decade of his life not being called Josh Radnor at all.
The show, which ran from 2005 to 2014, was a global success, and helped make major stars of Josh, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel.
Josh played the desperate-for-love Ted, a man convinced The One was just around the corner, in a series framed by Future Ted telling the story of how they met to his future children.
The series won 21 awards in its lifetime, including 30 nominations for Primetime Emmy Awards, and amassed millions of fans; the fanbase is very much alive and, in some pockets of the internet, thriving, where a day won’t pass without debates about the seriously divisive and controversial ending.
A decade on, Josh is still often thought of as Ted by many, with Instagram posts with announcements about his new music chock-full of comments from eager How I Met Your Mother fans making jokey references to Ted and co., instead of his new ventures.
Josh played hopeless romantic Ted in the celebrated sitcom which ran for nine seasons (Picture: CBS via Getty Images)
He has, however, made peace with this, although it took a while.
The recent death of Matthew Perry, known to most of the world as Chandler Bing thanks to his 10-year-stint on Friends, which undeniably paved the way for HIMYM in the first place, prompted him to reflect further on what it means to be known as a character on screen over who you really are.
‘It’s a very small club of people where you can talk about that particular weirdness, it’s a very strange thing that not everyone lives through,’ he tells Metro.co.uk, recalling a conversation he had with Perry before his death last month.
‘And he lived through it at a scale that really eclipsed most people’s experience with that, certainly mine. It’s a challenge, you have to find some relation to it that won’t drive you crazy and then you can find some peace with it.
He adds: ‘For me, I found that it is just to keep making stuff. You’re not in control of how popular things are … that’s out of my hands and all I can really do is try to find some peace in the midst of it all.’
Friends star Matthew Perry’s experience ‘eclipsed’ that of even Josh, as he became synonymous with his character known all over the world (Picture: VF13/WireImage)
‘I needed enough years away from HIMYM to stop feeling shackled by it’ (Picture: SBM/Plux/Rex/Shutterstock)
It’s taken a while for Josh to get to this point, by his own admission.
‘Some of the relaxing around it is just time, the mercy of the years gone by,’ he explains.
‘My life outside the show has always felt rich and robust and interesting, but it was private. And I think I just needed enough years away from [HIMYM]. To stop feeling so shackled by it.’
He is now able to look at it and think instead on how ‘this is a show that was so meaningful to so many people around the world,’ and be glad he was a part of it.
‘I think I would be foolish to suffer needlessly over something that brought a lot of people a lot of joy that I really got to be a huge part of. Some of it is a headache, but most of it is a blessing. And I look back on it with some real fondness now.’
Josh is preparing to release new album Eulogy: Volume One, and says delving into his art helped separate himself from the sitcom character (Picture: BFA/Rex/Shutterstock)
He says it would be ‘hard to look back and wish it away or imagine … that didn’t happen.’
‘That show is a huge part of my life,’ he concedes with a smile, adding that he’s ‘made the best of it’.
‘While every once in a while someone calls you a name that your parents didn’t give you and that’s weird, I also feel like that’s the worst consequence of it. I can live with that.’
‘It also freed me up to be an artist … I don’t know if I would have found my way to music if I didn’t feel supported by that show and freed up in certain ways.’
He’s happy to look back at the show now, recalling a rain scene following a hurricane as ‘quite beautiful’ and one of his favourite memories with the cast from the entire run – and points at the recurring Intervention gag as one of his favourite jokes in the series.
How I Met Your Mother ran for nine years and received multiple awards, with a thriving fanbase still being found today (Picture: CBS)
‘It was kind of a joke, but it wasn’t a joke- when that banner came out, that was a very, very serious reprimand to the person – something about that still tickles.’
The show also had a number of brilliant original musical scenes, including the Emmy award-nominated Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit sung by Neil Patrick Harris, and of course, Robin Sparkles’ discography, which Josh lauds as ‘genius’ and ‘so funny.’
Josh’s character, Ted, also gets his own musical scene in the form of Super Date, which sees the scene transformed from a horse-drawn carriage to a dinner date to watching the opera, which the actor had ‘such a good time’ filming.
‘The stagehands were moving that stuff, it was real. I remember that day as being like – “I can’t believe we’re doing this old Hollywood stuff,” it was really fun. I was always grateful for that.’
Also surreal was working with some of the famous guest stars How I Met Your Mother had on over the years, with the Super Date episode in question starring Jennifer Lopez.
Josh points to the likes of Bob Odenkirk and Francis Conroy as some of his favourite recurring stars to work with, and episodes with high-profile music guests – from Katy Perry to Nicole Scherzinger – as ‘very odd and very fun’.
How I Met Your Mother famously boasts several episodes with Britney Spears, who played an insecure receptionist who becomes obsessed with Ted and later believes she’s engaged to Barney, and whose episodes are lauded as some of the funniest in the series.
HIMYM co-creater Carter Bays told Metro.co.uk last year that Britney’s arrival on the show was surrounded by a ‘circus,’ with Josh agreeing it was ‘surreal’.
Britney herself mentioned in her recent memoir, The Woman In Me, that she may not have been ready to go on the series in 2007 so shortly after her breakdown, and asked if that was something the cast picked up on, Josh says they were ‘trying to be rock solid and professional and create a nice place where she could feel comfortable.
‘You know, some of that feels like a dream. She seemed very sweet – I thought she did a good job … other than that it was quite surreal.’
The show boasted some major guest stars over the years, from Britney Spears to J-Lo (Picture: CBS)
How I Met Your Mother often dealt with heartbreak and loss – from family members of the main cast dying to characters coming to terms with infertility, and fans often point to season six where things got darker.
Josh, however, doesn’t notice a marked difference, and calls it a ‘natural evolution’ for a programme that ‘always acknowledged life and death.’
‘It was a show that very consistently made you laugh, and occasionally cry.’
The same can arguably said for Josh’s music.
Right now, in 2023, a decade after HIMYM ended, Josh is preparing for the release of new album Eulogy: Volume One, and embarking on a tour to go with it.
Three singles from the upcoming record have been released, with Josh hoping his music ‘helps people feel less alone,’ recalling one who said a track helped them after unexpectedly losing their father.
Creating his own art has helped Josh come to terms with having been boxed in as Ted Mosby for 10 years (Picture: BFA/Rex/Shutterstock)
Making music hasn’t been a lifelong calling for Josh, though he’s always been an ‘obsessive’ music fan: it started about 10 years ago when he teamed up with friend and musician Ben Lee to make music together, and it took several more years before he picked up a guitar.
‘I knew a couple of chords but I was really not a guitar player – I cannot over stress how much I was not a guitar player,’ he laughs, revealing they would ask the sound technician to ‘crank down the volume’ when he was playing the instrument at shows.
His upcoming album, Eulogy, came about in part thanks to a devastating break-up – and meeting the woman he recently got engaged to.
He explains: ‘I had gone through this breakup and I couldn’t be in Los Angeles for reasons I won’t go into but I was kind of in exile.’
Josh found his feet musically in Radnor and Lee, and his new album comes after a devastating break up and finding love again with the woman he’s preparing to marry (Picture: The Getty Images North America)
He went to his parents’ house in Ohio, ‘nursing his wounds’, when his friend and musical collaborated Kyle Cox offered for him to come to Nashville -‘so I just loaded my dog into my dad’s car and drove out to Nashville with all these songs.’
‘And halfway through I met the woman I’m going to marry in a couple of months,’ he revealed with a smile, calling it a ‘healing, revitalising’ time.
Josh’s future wife is a psychologist specialising in ‘the connection between love and death,’ which led to him having ‘very intimate, deep conversations about mortality’ – and which helped create Eulogy: Volume 1.
Asked about the title of his album and his upcoming Eulogy tour, he doesn’t think it’s morbid in the slightest: instead, ‘it felt like an honouring.’
Josh considered the phrase Euology for his album titled and it ‘wouldn’t let me go’ (Picture: Starpix/Rex/Shutterstock)
Josh’s album, Eulogy Volume 1, is out on Friday
‘When you give a eulogy, you thank the person for their service and their time and their generosity. Once I thought of that title, it wouldn’t let me go.’
At his live shows – which he describes as sitting around a campfire – he is constantly in awe of the fact people chose to leave their homes, where they had ‘a world of entertainment’ at their fingertips to instead have this ‘shared experience.’
While clearly passionate about making music, Josh isn’t sure it’s going to always take centre stage from now on – even though a music career, or an acting career, or a writing/directing career ‘takes all of you, and there’s only one me.’
‘If I’m leaning into one, another one is naturally going to suffer a little bit,’ he acknowledges, but it hasn’t stopped him from writing music on set or in his trailer.
‘If people are there just because they want to see a guy they liked or disliked on a TV show, I’m okay with that’ (Picture: Getty/ Los Angeles Times)
Before, he kept thinking, ‘You’re going to have to choose. You can’t do all these things,’ but then realised: ‘What is that voice in my head that tells me I have to choose?”‘
‘I like storytelling. Sometimes I want to tell a four-minute story, sometimes I want to tell a 90-minute story, and sometimes I want to tell a decade-long story. I let the content dictate the platform.’
Already having a name thanks to his TV work helped Josh have a ready-made audience for his music, which is something he doesn’t ‘run away from’ any more.
‘If people are there just because they want to see a guy they liked or disliked on a TV show, I’m okay with that. Because what I’m offering is different than that.
‘However people find their way to my music, I don’t mind.’
Josh Radnor’s album Eulogy: Volume 1 is out November 17
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‘My life outside the show has always felt rich and robust and interesting, but it was private. It was mine.’