Josh Radnor on Simultaneously Shooting TV and Films: “The process was so invigorating that I never found it to be completely draining”
It isn’t easy to juggle a leading role on a popular sitcom and a film career, let alone a career as a film writer/director too. However, How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor has found himself wearing all three hats since directing his first film in 2010, Happythankyoumoreplease. He also stars in other director’s films, including writer/director Jill Soloway‘s Afternoon Delight alongside Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple.
He spoke to Collider about how he manages his busy schedule and how he ended up starring in Afternoon Delight.
His role in Afternoon Delight is best described as being spur-of-the-moment yet somehow also unfolding over a period of weeks. He reveals, “Jill [Soloway] is an old friend of mine. We’ve known each other about six or seven years. She actually called me to ask me to recommend a production designer, and I recommended mine, but she wasn’t available. And she said, ‘Listen, you’re really perfect for this role. It’s not cast yet, but I didn’t come to you because you’re doing the show and you won’t be able to do it. But, we’re doing a table read next week. Can you read the part?’ So, I read the part. It was such a good table read. Kathryn [Hahn] was there, Juno [Temple] was there, and a bunch of other people in the movie were there. After the table read, she was like, ‘I need you to do this role. What do we do? Let’s figure out a way to do it.’ So, I talked to them at work and they worked it out. I did three days a week on the show and four days a week on the movie, for about three weeks. So, I had three seven-day weeks, which was really intense, but the process was so invigorating that I never found it to be completely draining. When you do a long-running show for that long, you know how to conserve your energy. You know how to do it, and you’re in a groove with it, but there are also other muscles that are not getting worked. So, getting to do this, in addition to the show, felt very complete. I just remember feeling very fertile that August. I had a great time doing both at once.”
Radnor is not the first actor to simultaneously film a television series and a movie — Michael J. Fox famously shot Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night — but he admits that his commitment to the series does limit the number of “outside” jobs he can take, especially since he also writes and directs films now. He explains, “I’ve had to make some tough choices, in terms of where I’m leaning towards, as either a writer/director or an actor. If I want to keep writing, I sometimes really need to use a whole hiatus to write. So, there have been a few summers where I just haven’t done any acting, and I’ve been writing and traveling a lot. I really like to travel when I write. Something about seeing new things and being in new cultures and environments provokes new thoughts in your head. So, I find that to get out of my routine and to get out of my house to be really helpful. It’s clear, in terms of acting stuff and what I’ve chosen to do because of the stories I want to tell. There’s just a lot of stuff I decided not to chance because it didn’t feel like something I could fully throw myself behind. Because I only have a little amount of time anyway, to work every year, I just decided that the most inspiring and growth-inducing thing I could do would be to work on my own projects. But then, something like this comes along where you think, ‘These are people I love and respect and admire and want to work with, and it feels like something I could throw my full self behind.’ I’m always open to those opportunities, as an actor. Maybe you end up working less, but everything you do align yourself with is something you can hopefully be really proud of. You never know how things are gonna turn out.”