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A life on stage is an odd life for a child, and not all of them seem to survive. Actors like Drew Barrymore and Jason Bateman made the transition, but plenty of others could not jump from cute kid to serious actor. Neil Patrick Harris might have had an easier time because he wasn’t playing an adorable moppet — his role was basically an adult doctor who just happened to be a very smart teenager. Of course, nowadays Harris is more prone to acting like a badly behaved child than as a medical professional, but he’s still a top-notch actor of stage and screen — and will soon be hosting his third Tony Awards in just four years.
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Neil may always be Doogie Howser, M.D. to kids of the 80s, but mainstream America has strongly embraced NPH as the fast-talking womanizer Barney Stinson on the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother. While mostly known for dressing in disguises and adopting accents to sleep with various women, Barney also has some real moments of romantic drama with Robin (Cobie Smulders) — his best friend’s former fiancée who the show reveals Barney himself will marry in the future (hey, nobody’s perfect). The actor was won numerous Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Barney Stinson.
NPH has also furthered this bad-boy schtick in the Harold and Kumar movie series, playing a hilarious version of himself so despicably over-the-top that most of the details are better left unprinted here. Of course, credit is also due to his work with Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers) on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which gave Harris a chance to show off his evil — not to mention his musical — side.
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Harris has a strong voice, and he knows how to use it… on camera and on the stage. He comes to the Tony Awards not just as a Hollywood star but as a Broadway star as well. With performances in Rent, Company, Assassins and as The Emcee in Cabaret, Harris continues to show off his vaudevillian side. Harris has also showed himself to be a more serious stage presence in productions like Proof.
For the 66th Tony Awards, his third turn as host, NPH will probably be hamming it up all the way. Will there be another musical number? Of course. Will he bring Hugh Jackman back for another showdown? Hopefully. Will he rap again? Probably not. Whatever happens, Harris has showed himself to be a world-class performer and host. But he’s also become one of stage and screen’s best troublemakers, so censors and fans should get ready for an epic night.
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Dan Morgridge is a writer from Chicago.