“We're saying the word "last" a lot more than we ever did,” said a reflective Neil Patrick Harris, also known as the lothario Barney of How I Met Your Mother.
Harris, along with show co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, director Pamela Fryman and more series stars, met with members of the Television Critics Association recently to reminiscence and begin to say goodbye to the place they’ve called home for 9 seasons. The Primetime Emmy-winning comedy comes to an end on March 31.
Everyone burst into laughter when Thomas quickly added that the "last" this-or-that sentiment "applies to weird things that don't deserve it, like, ‘This is the last time we will order Chipotle for lunch.’”
The easy rapport that exists between the cast and creators is immediately, genuinely apparent when you see them together. Jason Segel, who plays Marshall on the series, credits Fryman with setting the tone on the set early on.
“The thing that took precedence over anything was that we all get along and that we all be kind and good to each other,” Segel said. “I think it's who Pam is in her heart. This has been like the nicest place to come for 9 years.”
Fryman has directed nearly every episode of How I Met Your Mother since the series began.
She recalled being charmed by the “super cute” Bays and Thomas when she met them.
She stayed because the job has never been boring. “It's always been challenging,” she said. “And they have forced me to do things that I never thought I would be able to do. It is unlike any other experience I've ever had.”
Segel and co-star Alyson Hannigan, who plays Marshall’s wife Lily, recalled a time Fryman didn’t want to halt filming even though the mic packs had gone out.
Fryman could tell Segel and Hannigan were having an acting moment and didn’t want to stop them. Hannigan said when Fryman eventually did yell “cut,” “it was like it hurt her inside.”
Bays, who had previously worked on American Dad, remembered the first time he realized what a collective process the show would be.
In the first season, he had written a scene and couldn’t figure out how to end it. So he wrote that Barney would sneeze so hard he would fall down. He admits it was a total “cop out.”
“And [Neil] worked on it so hard,” Bays said. “I remember we shot it seven times, and each time there was some new element to it. And it was so great."
"That was the moment that it was like, ‘This is what the job is. It's a collaboration and you're just playing off each other and giving ideas to each other.’”
Harris agrees. “I never go up into the writers' room,” he said. “That's sort of sacrosanct up there, but I feel like [they] pitch balls at us and we try to crack them.”
Segel said the cast has bonded as they have all gone through “some serious life stuff” over the years including weddings and births: “That's a really special thing."
“As the characters evolved, all of our lives did as well," he explained. "Some of it paralleled what we've kind of gone through as people. This is the longest I've known any group of people besides my family.”
Bays and Thomas, who are developing the new series How I Met Your Dad, are excited for viewers to see the ending they’ve been planning for 9 years.
“It's nice being able to finally write that,” Bays said. “I think the lifeboat that's kept us from sinking into despair [at the show ending] is just knowing that we get to tell the story that we've been waiting to tell.”