In one swift move, Neil Patrick Harris reinvented the memoir by taking a choose-your-own-adventure approach with his new book, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. As hilarious and insightful as you would imagine, the book is filled with backstage Broadway stories, a journey to self-acceptance, and magic (for real, he teaches you magic tricks in this book). Numerous other writers and celebrities contribute chapters to NPH’s memoir: from Perez Hilton and Nathan Fillion to Kelly Ripa and Whoopi Goldberg. These friends share funny, meaningful, and impactful stories that give readers a unique glimpse into Harris.
There are a few things we knew going in: We know he was once Doogie Howser, has two Twitter accounts, and loves to host award shows (he confirmed yesterday he’s hosting the 2015 Oscars). Here are five things we didn’t know before cracking the spine of his first (and hopefully not last) book.
Les Misérables changed his life
NPH was a fan of many a musical as a young boy, but he credits Victor Hugo’s epic masterpiece for turning him from musical admirerer to full-on theater geek. He recalls seeing it for the first time on Broadway as a “phenomenal, transcendent experience” and would force his mother to listen to the soundtrack ad nauseam, pausing only to provide her with the emotional context needed to truly appreciate the soundtrack. In the center of the book is a selection of photography which includes many adorable pictures of a young (and sometimes awkward) Harris, as well as a photo of his cat Cosette—named after the young orphan girl adopted by Jean Valjean in the musical.
He did not want to go to a performing arts high school
Wanting to study drama without high school drama, Harris told both his middle school choir/acting teacher and his band director that he wouldn’t be interested in attending a performing arts high school. It’s a decision he jokes was influenced by viewings of the movie Fame. He instead went to a summer theater camp where he met playwright Mark Medoff who cast him in his first movie, Clara’s Heart, opposite Whoopi Goldberg.
He drinks an “astonishing” amount of Red Bull
In one chapter, actress and guest author Amy Sedaris shares the story of how she and Harris met. She gives a quick list of the things she associates with memories of him, the very first item being Harris’s Red Bull-induced hotel room acrobatics.
If he had to marry a woman it’d be Colbie Smulders
That is if “women weren’t all gross and icky.” In reflecting on his experiences as Barney Stinson onHow I Met Your Mother, Harris can’t help but gush over his costar and on-screen love interest. He shares a story about how Smulders turned down Joss Whedon when he offered her a potential film role as Wonder Woman to ensure she kept a semi-regular life. Harris even reveals that he ‘shipped Barney/Robin from the very beginning.
He regularly attends Joss Whedon’s Shakespearian reading parties
Straight out of a fangirl fantasy, NPH’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog director Joss Whedon hosts impromptu performances of Shakespeare’s plays at his home in Santa Monica. Harris admits regularly going with a group of other unnamed actors and actresses, who happily take roles such as Spear Thrower #3 just for the sheer joy of working with Whedon.