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Neil Patrick Harris backstage at the 2014 Tony Awards

The 68th annual Tony Awards were presented on June 8, 2014, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Top nominee "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" won four Tonys, including best musical, out of the 10 nominations that it received. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” went into the ceremony with eight nominations and won five Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical. The awards were more evenly spread out in the categories for plays, since one play did not dominate in winning most of the categories. Multiple winners included “A Raisin in the Sun” (which won three Tonys, including Best Revival of a Play), “All the Way” and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” which won two awards each. (A complete list of winners can be found at the official Tony Awards website.) After the Tony winners give their acceptance speeches, they usually stop by the press room to pose for photos and do interviews. Here is what this celebrity Tony winner said in the press room.

Neil Patrick Harris at the 2014 Tony Awards in New York City
Carla Hay

Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical
("Hedwig and the Angry Inch")

What would advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

I was very proud of my 15-year-old self. I had been cast in a TV show [“Doogie Howser, M.D.”], and I was doing crazy things that people that age rarely get to do. I’m glad it happened to me and that I got to perform with TV actors, movie actors and theater actors. Getting to perform live is an incredible experience.

When are you getting married to your partner David Burtka?

I have no idea. We’re right in the middle of this juggernaut. When things calm down. They haven’t calmed down in the past few years.

When you performed as Hedwig tonight, you did some bumping and grinding on some of the celebrities in the audience. They seemed very surprised. Were they really surprised or was it all an act?

One of the benefits of having hosted the show previously is I can sneak around and get the intel on who’s sitting where. Yes, they weren’t alerted to the fact that things were about the happen — naughty, dirty things.

(Click here to watch the performance.)

You have some interesting nail polish on right now. Can you comment on it?

We have twin 3-and-a-half-year-olds, so nail color is something we do all the time. We have fingernails and toenails breaking, so I don’t really think about it. This [nail color I’m wearing] is Midnight. Mike Potter, who does the [“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”] hair design and makeup design, and who did the first incarnation on the movie, has his own [makeup] line.

Have you had any wardrobe malfunctions on stage in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”?

We’ve been lucky with the costume. The great thing about the show is that the conceit is that it’s a one-night performance. So if anything is going wrong, I can just stop and knock it out.

Just the other night, the safety pin got lodged between my fishnets. And I kept feeling it stabbing me. I thought it was the hair, and it wasn’t. It kept hurting! So finally, I had to stop the show and squat down, and someone in the front row yanked it out.

What kind of preparation did you do for your role as a transgender woman in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”?

I did a lot of preparation, actually, because I knew it was coming, six months down the pike before we started. I stopped doing upper-body strength training, which I had been doing a lot of for the TV show [“How I Met Your Mother”], because you never know if you’re going to be shirtless in that show.

And I really wanted to change my posture and change my silhouette more than anything, so losing weight helped me do it, because it eliminated pectoral strength. I did tons of cardio to gain lots of flexibility. I got custom heels really fast. I worked with Spencer [Liff], the choreographer. I had some drag queens that gave me some tips.

What has the past year been like for you?

It’s been spectacular. I can’t believe this has all happened in a 12-month span. It’s been a remarkably awesome year for me. To have hosted last year’s Tonys and to have the opening number be bigger than I thought it was going to be, and then Season 9 of “How I Met Your Mother,” which I was very proud of.

And then the comedy western movie [“A Million Ways to Die in the West”] that I got to be part of, and then David Fincher’s movie [“Gone Girl”] that’s coming out in October [2014]. Then “Hedwig” started, we moved to New York, and the response to the show has been wonderful, and people are anxious to come and see it, and people voting for me. It’s been a blast.

In “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” you always kiss someone in the audience. Aren’t you afraid of getting mononucleosis?

[He laughs] Not mono, but Liz Caplan, who’s my voice coach/voice supervisor, has a handful of pills I’m supposed to be taking and oregano oil. I even had my blood work done. I’ve just got to keep my levels high. Lots of vitamin C.

For “Hedwig,” it’s important for me to do pre-emptive, preventative work, so I don’t have to get sick and take medicine because I’m sick. If I hurt my foot, I have to do physical therapy because of my foot. So I do a lot of physical therapy and a lot of vitamins and a lot of liquids and cardio. I’m trying to ride above it before I get sick.

Can you talk about the special place that theater holds in your heart?

The first show I ever saw in New York was “Les Misérables.” I was a kid from a small town in New Mexico who had randomly been cast alongside Whoopi Goldberg in a film. It was the coolest thing ever. It was called “Clara’s Heart.” We filmed it outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Part of the movie took place in Jamaica. My character wasn’t in those scenes [in Jamaica].

I was bummed that everyone got to go to Jamaica except me. So the producer Marty Elfand flew our family to New York City from New Mexico. We had never been there, ever.

I had heard of the music of “Les Misérables,” so he got us tickets to that show. I got to sit in the last row and got to watch this giant revolve and this massive swell of music and emotion. And it sort of overtook me. When you see something like that for the first time, you realize what it can be.

I love plays, and I think that they’re great, but when there’s a musical element and it’s done right, you can speak about your emotions more freely, and you can play with structure in a different way, because everything lyrically rhymes. I think you can key into everybody’s emotions better in musicals. That’s what I try to do sometimes on stage.

For more info: Tony Awards website


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