LOS ANGELES — Neil Patrick Harris is a comedian who has played many “extreme characters”. This made his role in “Uncoupled” particularly appealing.
He said that he was attracted by the idea of “a bit of normalcy” as well as nuance. He portrays a New Yorker suddenly single, who is dumped by his 17-year-old partner and stumbled into a new dating world.
The premiere of “Uncoupled” Friday night was a rare Hollywood treat: A rom-com featuring a gay protagonist as the loveable hero.
Harris saw this as an opportunity to increase its value, and so did the show’s veteran TV producers: Darren Star (“Sex and the City,” Emily in Paris”) and Jeffrey Richman (“Modern Family,” “Frasier”).
Harris stated, “As gay man myself I thought that having content which was representational was great for a streaming platform such as Netflix.” Star and Richman have a knack for creating fare that is universally appealing. Harris marvels at their skillful juggling between the funny and the sad.
“I felt that this was something new and different. He said that he was honored to have been asked to participate in it. His diverse screen credits include “Doogie Howser M.D.”; “How I Met Your Mother” and “Gone Girl.” He also won an Emmy Award for his Broadway performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Harris’ Michael, a Manhattan realty agent, works with Tisha Campbell (a candid and loyal colleague) and has a supportive circle. He is now adjusting to life as an unmoored 40-something man.
Star stated that Harris signed on because of the emotional demands of the role. “I would say that, gay or straight I have never seen such vulnerability in a male character. This is a man going through the pain of a split up, and it’s not something you see very often.
In the first episode, Michael hosts a birthday party where he toasts his partner Colin (Tuc Watkins), to a crowd that is unaware they have recently split. It’s a tour de force moment for Harris.
His authenticity and emotion were so extraordinary. Richman stated that when an actor elevates your writing in this way, it is why you are a writer.”
Harris and the creators of the show are on the exact same page about what the show isn’t intended to be: A political statement.
Star said, “It’s almost opposite.” Star said, “It was almost the opposite. It’s where the audience has moved. They want to see a show similar to this. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight to see yourself in these characters. This show is about humanity.
Harris believes that a work should be “just a piece of representation …. If one tries to achieve a particular agenda with art, it will be met with both extremes.” It will be loved by those who love it and rejected by those who don’t.
He said that “Uncoupled” was truthful, but also “very bingey and doesn’t take it too seriously.”
The actor is married and a family man. He and actor-chef David Burtka are parents to two children. “Uncoupled” allowed Harris to explore an area of his life that Harris was not able to avoid.
“I didn’t begin dating until much later than others, and they all went quite well when I did. He said that he doesn’t have many relationship wounds. “I have been married to David for 18 years and we just kept going after we started dating.”
It was strangely satisfying to sink into fictional heartache.
Harris stated that Harris was playing an interesting role in a strange, altered version my reality. Harris said that it was exciting because Harris was able to touch on emotions that he had not felt. Harris also shared that Harris was required to feel them. Harris was not bothered by scenes that required him to show off a lot of skin.
Harris spoke with perfect deadpan delivery, “Thankfully, it wasn’t my skin, so it was familiar to me.” Harris then gets serious and describes a healthy, positive self-image.
“I have no modesty whatsoever. I am 49 years old. Since I was 13-14 years old, I have been doing this for over 50 years. He said that he doesn’t need a curtain to cover my changing table. “In ‘Hedwig’, you saw almost all of it. I exercise a lot and feel more comfortable in my skin than ever before.
Is he feeling the need to explain his dad to his twins, who were born in 2010, that he is almost always on TV?
“I was thinking about it a lot as we were filming it. ‘Um? Are the kids going to see this? ‘” Harris said. Harris is certain they won’t and provides a rational explanation. His son and daughter often cringe at the actions of their parents. He recalls walking to school with them and asking about the next day.
Harris remembered Harris saying, “Please, stop talking.” Harris recalled, “I think they would be shocked to see my naked body on the screen if they watched ‘Uncoupled. They won’t see my naked body in the bathroom. They won’t ever want to see it, I think.”