Neil Patrick Harris Interview: ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” was pitched to Neil Patrick Harris “as a larger piece of art.” From the beginning this Netflix adaptation of the bestselling children’s books by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was only intended to run three seasons, faithfully adapting all 13 novels in the series. It was always meant to be “finite, and so I loved that” because “it gave us a sense of purpose.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Harris above.
As the villainous Count Olaf, an actor trying to steal a vast fortune from the three orphaned Baudelaire children (Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith), Harris donned a series of elaborate costumes and makeup effects, in a sense playing multiple characters in the vein of Peter Sellers (“Dr. Strangelove”) or Alec Guinness (“Kind Hearts and Coronets”). “I had never done that kind of performance before,” he admits. “It was challenging for me personally because I probably overthought it, but with this kind of material, I wanted it to be as complex as possible, given that it was based on books that are complex in nature.”
Himself a parent to young children, Harris “was so pleased with the level of work that everyone put into this Netflix show,” which appeals to younger audiences, but is executed “on an artistic scale that had never been done before.” The fact that it earned three Emmy nominations this year including Best Children’s Program was especially satisfying. (It has received a total of six noms over the course of its entire run.) Given the amount of “amazing work being done by so many people on so many levels,” being singled out “is awesome.”
Harris has earned 12 Emmy nominations throughout his career, winning one for guest starring on “Glee” in 2010 and the other four for producing and hosting the Tonys telecast in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. He earned another four bids for “How I Met Your Mother” (Best Comedy Supporting Actor, 2007-2010), one for the Oscars (Best Special Class Program, 2015) and now two for producing “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (Best Children’s Program, 2018-2019). In addition to the Oscars and the Tonys, he also emceed the Primetime Emmys in 2009 and 2013.