Neil Patrick Harris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 15, 1973. His parents, Sheila Gail (Scott) and Ronald Gene Harris, were lawyers and ran a restaurant. He grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a small town 120 miles south of Albuquerque, where he first took up acting in the fourth grade. While tagging along with his older brother of 3 years, Harris won the part of Toto in a school production of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
His parents moved the family to Albuquerque in 1988, the same year that Harris made his film debut in two movies: Purple People Eater (1988) and Clara's Heart (1988), which starred Whoopi Goldberg. A year later, when Neil was 16, he landed the lead role in Steven Bochco's television series about a teen prodigy doctor at a local hospital, Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989), which launched Harris into teen-heartthrob status. The series lasted1989-1993 and earned him a People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New Series (1990) and a Golden Globe Nomination (1990). Harris attended the same high school as Freddie Prinze Jr., La Cueva High School in Albuquerque. Neil acted on stage in a few plays while there, one of which was his senior play, Fiddler on the Roof (1971), in which he portrayed Lazar Wolf the butcher (1991).
When "Doogie Howser, M.D." stopped production in 1993, Harris took up stage acting, which he had always wanted to do. After a string of made-for-television movies, Harris acted in his first big screen roles in nine years, Starship Troopers (1997) with Casper Van Dien and then The Proposition (1998). In July 1997, Harris accepted the role of Mark Cohen for the Los Angeles production of the beloved musical, Rent (2005). His performance in "Rent" garnered him a Drama-League Award in 1997. He continued in the musical, to rave reviews, until January 1998. He later reprised the role for six nights in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December 1998.
In 1999, Harris returned to television in the short-lived sitcom Stark Raving Mad (1999), with Tony Shalhoub. He was also in the big-screen projects The Next Best Thing (2000) and Undercover Brother (2002), and he can be heard as the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the newest animated Spider-Man (2003) series. Harris has continued his stage work, making his Broadway debut in 2001 in "Proof." He has also appeared on stage in "Romeo and Juliet," "Cabaret," Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert (2001), and, most recently, "Assassins." In 2005, Harris returned to the small screen in a guest-starring role on Numb3rs (2005) and a starring role in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother (2005). Neil played the title role in the web-exclusive musical comedy Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008), widely downloaded via iTunes to become the #1 TV series for five straight weeks, despite not actually being on television.
His husband is David Burtka and he has two children, Gideon Burtka-Harris and Harper Burtka-Harris, via a surrogate mother. All three of them also appeared in The Carnivorous Carnival: Part Two as Mr. Willums, Skip Willums, and Trixie Willums.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Daniel Handler and Barry Sonnenfeld wanted to cast Harris after viewing his musical number from the 2011 Tony Awards, "It's Not Just for Gays Anymore." They thought he would be perfect to "play someone who could make fun of villainy but still be scary." When Sonnenfeld was at a Thanksgiving Dinner that Harris and his family also attended, and Harris was doing magic tricks. Sonnenfeld told him, "Hey, there's a show coming up that I haven't been hired for yet, and I can't tell you anything about it, but if I do get hired, I'd love for you to be the star." Harris simply said, "Okay."
Netflix executive Ted Biaselli originally thought of Harris more as Snicket than Olaf, but he was later blown away by Harris's performance.
Harris found his casting as Olaf to be "an opportunity to do something creative, fearless, and physically transformative." He had a huge respect for the challenges the crew put themselves through, and said that every person working on teh show was so overwhelmed with appreciation for the project.
He decided to say specific words very theatrically- such as "fortune"- due to Olaf's trait of pontification and loving to hear himself speak. He stated that he was happy to be around the Baudelaires, as he was finally able to perform his monologues to someone, as he was mainly alone, but when Esmé and Carmelita began to tag along, he realized early on that it was a terrible decision. Early in Season 2, he and Ally decided to work with the angle that Fernald was in love with Olaf.
Harris had to sit for three-and-a-half hours in makeup to get all the prosthetics on to transform him into Count Olaf. There was a lot of gluing involved, and upon the beginning of Season 2, the makeup department found the best glue had been discontinued and they had to rush to stockpile $350 jars on eBay. Harris would finish his routine by spraying himself with a cologne that gave him a funky stench to get into character. He was fascinated by the makeup process every day, and very proud of the team who made it look perfect.
One of his biggest influences for Count Olaf was Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, as he could be evil without raising his voice or moving his face much.
He also said that one his easiest aspects of the job was trying to figure out how fully realized to make Olaf's disguises, as while Olaf was a bad actor, Harris didn't want to make it look like he was giving a bad performance. Once The Daily Punctilio announced Olaf's death, he stopped with disguises, but he still continues to fail actualizing his plans and he starts wildly attacking to try and capture the Baudelaires, making his characters much less realized.
While he wanted Olaf's final scene to feel authentic, he also wanted Olaf to remain the antagonist, and for little sympathy to be offered for him. "I think it's a more complicated watch when you're seeing someone suffer that you don't like."
|1988||Clara's Heart||David Hart|
|1988||Too Good to Be True||Danny Harland|
|1988||Purple People Eater||Billy Johnson|
|1989||Home Fires Burning||Lonnie Tibbetts|
|1989||Cold Sassy Tree||Will Tweedy|
|1990||The Earth Day Special||Doogie Howser M.D.|
|1991||Stranger in the Family||Steve Thompson|
|1993||A Family Torn Apart||Brian Hannigan|
|1994||Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story||Jim Stolpa|
|1995||Not Our Son||Paul Kenneth Keller|
|1995||My Antonia||Jimmy Burden|
|1995||Legacy of Sin: The William Colt Story||William Colt|
|1995||The Man in the Attic||Edward / Krista's lover|
|1995||Animal Room||Arnold Mosk|
|1997||Starship Troopers||Carl Jenkins|
|1998||The Proposition||Roger Martin|
|1998||The Christmas Wish||Will Martin|
|2000||The Next Best Thing||David|
|2001||The Wedding Dress||Travis Cleveland|
|2001||Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert||Tobias Ragg|
|2004||Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle||Neil Patrick Harris|
|2005||The Golden Blaze||The Comic Shop Owner||Voice|
|2005||The Christmas Blessing||Nathan Andrews|
|2008||Justice League: The New Frontier||Barry Allen / The Flash||Voice|
|2008||Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay||Neil Patrick Harris|
|2008||Prop 8: The Musical||A Very Smart Fellow||Short|
|2009||Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs||Steve||Voice|
|2009||Beyond All Boundaries||1st Lt. David Hettema / Sgt. William Manchester||Short|
|2009||Yes, Virginia||Dr. Philip O'Hanlon||Short
|2010||Dracula's Daughters vs. the Space Brains||Dan||Short|
|2010||Batman: Under the Red Hood||Dick Grayson / Nightwing||Voice|
|2010||Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore||Lou||Voice|
|2010||The Best and the Brightest||Jeff|
|2011||The Smurfs||Patrick Winslow|
|2011||The Muppets||Neil Patrick Harris|
|2011||A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas||Neil Patrick Harris|
|2012||American Reunion||Celebrity Dance-Off Host|
|2012||Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special||Two-Face / Black manta||Voice|
|2013||Rien ne bat un astronaute||Man||Short|
|2013||The Smurfs 2||Patrick|
|2013||Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2||Steve||Voice|
|2014||Attack of the 50 Ft. Gummi Bear!||Steve||Voice
|2014||A Million Ways to Die in the West||Foy|
|2014||Gone Girl||Desi Collings|
|Spinning Gold||Bill Aucoin|
|2022||The Matrix 4|
|1989||B.L. Stryker||Buder||One Episode|
|1991||Carol & Company||Hoogie Dowser||One Episode|
|1991||The Simpsons||Neil Patrick Harris||One Episode|
|1991||Blossom||The "Charming" Derek Slade||One Episode|
|1992||Roseanne||Dr. Doogie Howser||One Episode|
|1992||Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Todd Andrews||One Episode|
|1993||Quantum Leap||Mike Hammond||One Episode|
|1989-1993||Doogie Howser, M.D.||Dr. Doogie Howser|
|1993||Murder, She Wrote||Tommy Remsen||One Episode|
|1996||The Outer Limits||Howie Morrison|
|1997||Homicide: Life on the Street||Alan Schack|
|1999||Joan of Arc||King Charles VIII of France / The Dauphin|
|2000||Will & Grace||Bill||One Episode|
|1999-2000||Stark Raving Mad||Henry McNeeley|
|2001||Static Shock||Johnny Morrow / Replay||One Episode
|2001||Son of the Beach||Loverboy||One Episode|
|2001||As Told By Ginger||Ned||One Episode|
|2001||The Legend of Tarzan||Moyo||One Episode
|2001||Ed||Joe Baxter||One Episode|
|2002||Touched by an Angel||Jonas||One Episode|
|2002||Justice League||Ray Thompson|
|2003||Boomtown||Peter Corman||One Episode|
|2003||Spider-Man||Peter Parker / Spider-Man|
|2004||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||John Tagman||One Episode|
|2005||Numb3rs||Ethan Burdick||One Episode|
|2005||Jack & Bobby||Prof. Preston Phelps||One Episode|
|2008||Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog||Billy (Dr. Horribile)|
|2008||Sesame Street||The Fairy Shoeperson||One Episode|
|2007-2009||Family Guy||Barney Stinson|
|2009||Batman: The Brave and the Bold||Music Meister||Voice|
|2009||Robot Chicken||Two-Face / Various||Voice|
|2010||Glee||Bryan Ryan||One Episode|
|2012-2013||Neil's Puppet Dreams||Neil Patrick Harris|
|2011-2013||Adventure Time||Prince Gumball / Additional Voices||Voice|
|2005-2014||How I Met Your Mother||Barney Stinson|
|2015||American Horror Story||Chester Creb|
|2010-2015||The Penguins of Madagascar||Dr. Blowhole|
|2017||Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return||Neville LaRoy||One Episode|
|2017||At Home with Amy Sedaris||Neil Patrick Harris||One Episode|
|2017-2019||A Series of Unfortunate Events||Count Olaf|
- His role as Count Olaf is especially hard because when doing the disguises, he has to portray Count Olaf who is portraying someone else.