Neil Patrick Harris is actively anti-campaigning to host the Oscars
How do you campaign for the Oscars without actually campaigning? As Billy Crystal found out this summer, throwing yourself out there as a candidate for Hollywood's biggest night isn't seen necessarily as a positive. Even if you're the legendary Billy Crystal. The Academy and the show producers don't want to be pressured into picking a host and believe an element of surprise in picking the emcee actually means something to the general public (I know, they may be over thinking it a tad). After Anne Hathaway and James Franco's disastrous run last February, lots of familiar names were thrown about as potential hosts for the 85th installment of the big show next year. One of those names seriously suggested, for arguably the first time, was none other than Neil Patrick Harris.
Harris, whose day job involves providing laughs on CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," is a Broadway veteran who has hosted the Tony Awards to great acclaim in 2009 and 2011 and the Emmy Awards to very positive notices also in 2009. And if talk show hosts can jump from the Emmys or Grammys to the big show, why not the charismatic Harris? Speaking to the 38-year-old father of two last Friday while he was doing press for "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," in an interview you can watch embedded in this post, Harris appears in no rush to host the biggest awards show of them all.
"I am actively anti-campaigning. I don't think it's the big job everyone thinks it is," Harris says. "It's one night when people win awards. It's a years worth of people over thinking that night. Whether it's Oscar campaigns or specific campaigns for and then you have publicist and studios and everyone has such a vested interest in that one night that it's a pressure cooker. It's a big deal, but to come out as the host? Unless you are doing Billy Crystal it's really difficult. And I think if you are doing Billy Crystal I think you get hit for being Billy Crystal, so I think you're a big target regardless what you do. I mean, look at what happened with Anne and James. They just got slammed for it. Both of them."
Plus, as he noted off camera, Harris says the crowd at the Tonys are much more friendly as compared to the Oscars, and to some extent the Emmys, where there is a lot more pressure to win. But then again, while he's not campaigning, but he certainly wouldn't turn down the gig down if offered.
"Not at all campaigning," Harris says. "I'd love to do it, but not at all campaigning."
As for his own movie career, Harris has been busier than usual. He was the lead human role in the global blockbuster "The Smurfs" this summer and now he's back for more, um, sexy ladies action in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas." His on screen alter ego in the "Harold & Kumar" movies is the polar opposite to the genuinely nice guy in real life (we assume, right?), but as the father of recently born twins he might be paying a little bit more attention to some of the more outrageous things he's asked to do these days. Well, maybe.
Harris notes, "The first movie, I opened the script and was like, 'What is happening? I don't know if I can do this.' But by the third one we have dinner and they tell me sort of what their plan is and they want to make sure I'm on board with it before they spend the time to write it. "
For the third installment, Harold and Kumar (John Cho and Kal Penn) are on a wild Christmas Eve goose chase to replace the perfect tree in Harold's home before his wife and tough father-in-law (Danny Trejo) return from Midnight Mass. Towards the end of their journey, they randomly run into NPH who is the middle of rehearsing a Christmas TV show. The show includes a major musical number which was right in Harris' wheelhouse.
"The musical number stuff, we sent emails back," Harris says. "[I] kind of wanted to steer away from a lot of Jesus songs, because I didn't want to upset anybody. There is enough of that in the rest of the movie."
That might be something of an understatement.
"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" opens nationwide on Friday.
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.