Neil Patrick Harris can light up the Broadway stage whenever he is on it. While he is best known for his comedy roles in television as womanizer Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, and Doogie Howser in Doogie Howser, M.D. – on Broadway, he was known for his roles in Cabaret, Assassins, Proof, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which he won a Tony Award. He has also hosted the Tony Awards four times, for which he won four Emmy Awards. He’s a talented and versatile actor who can perform a wide range of roles, whether likably average and flamboyantly unconventional in stage, television, and film.
Neil Patrick Harris (June 15, 1973) was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico, with his parents and elder brother. His parents, Sheila Gail and Ronald Gene Harris were lawyers who also ran a restaurant.
Harris first performed on stage as Toto in his high school production of The Wizard of Oz, and he kept acting. He finished high school with high honors in 1991, which he attributes to being tutored half the school year when he was on set.
Early Film and Television Career
Harris started his career as a child actor after being discovered by a playwright Mark Medoff at a drama camp in New Mexico. Medoff later cast him as the drama film Clara’s Heart (1998) opposite Whoopi Goldberg, where Harris earned his first Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a supporting role.
Starting in 1989, 16-year-old Harris played the title role of a child prodigy doctor in ABC’s medical drama Doogie Howser, M.D., for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award. After the show’s four-season run ended, Harris played a number of guest roles in different television series, an effort to avoid being typecast. He appeared TV shows such as Blossom (1991), Murder She Wrote (1993), A Family Torn Apart (1993), The Outer Limits (1996).
He has played lead roles in television films including Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story (1994), My Antonia (1995), The Christmas Wish (1998), Joan of Arc (1999), The Wedding Dress (2001), and The Christmas Blessing (2005).
Harris worked in Broadway for both dramatic and musical roles. He starred in the 2001 concert performances of Sweeney Todd as Tobias Ragg. In 2002, he performed opposite Anne Heche in Proof. Then, he took the role of Emcee in Cabaret (2003). Because of his critically-acclaimed performance as Emcee, Harris was named the top-drawing headliner by GuestStarCasting.com, outranking stars like Alan Cumming and John Stamos. In 2004, Harris starred in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins.
He returned to the stage to direct a production of the musical Rent at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. The next year, Harris played the lead role in Stephen Sondheim’s Company in concert, opposite Patti LuPone, and with the New York Philharmonic.
Harris hosted the Tony Awards in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This earned him four Primetime Emmy Awards.
A week after hosting the Tonys in 2013, it was announced that he would originate the titular role in the first Broadway production of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. His portrayal as the transgender Hedwig won a Tony Award for best actor in a musical in 2014.
Later Film and Television Work
From 1999 to 2000, Harris appeared as Henry McNeeley in Stark Raving Mad. He also portrayed himself as a character and dubbed in three Harold and Kumar movies (2004, 2008, and 2011).
Harris became a breakout star of the CBS ensemble sitcom How I Met Your Mother from 2005 to 2014. His performance as Barney Stinson earned him two more Golden Globe nominations and four Emmy nominations. When he came out as gay in 2006, it did not become an issue in his career, playing the role of a serial womanizer. He also appeared in the musical series Glee in 2010, which brought him an Emmy victory.
In 2014, Harris took a supporting role in A Million Ways to Die in the West, and in the thriller Gone Girl. The year after that, he hosted the variety show Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris and then played Count Olaf on Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019).
Neil Patrick Harris was an award-winning actor in television, but here are her notable awards in theater:
- Best Actor in a Musical, Tony Award (2014) – Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (2014) – Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Distinguished Performance, Drama League Award (2014) – Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Hasty Pudding Man of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals (2014)