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Exclusive Interview With Josh Radnor On Liberal Arts

Josh Radnor, perhaps best known for his role as Ted Mosby in TV's How I Met Your Mother, showed us last year with Happythankyoumoreplease that not only could he act, but he could also direct and write. Now, he brings us his second film, Liberal Arts.

Josh Radnor, perhaps best known for his role as Ted Mosby in TV’s How I Met Your Mother, showed us last year with Happythankyoumoreplease that not only could he act, but he could also direct and write. Now, he brings us his second film, Liberal Arts. Equally as pleasing and impressive as his first directorial effort, Liberal Arts once again confirms that Radnor is a true triple threat.

Recently, we sat down with Radnor and spoke briefly with him about the film. He discussed where the idea to write it came from, lessons learnt from his first film and much more.

Check it out below.

We Got This Covered: This being your second film behind the camera, did you have an easier time directing and what lessons did you learn on Happythankyoumoreplease that you applied here?

Josh Radnor: Well I guess the biggest lesson that I learnt on Happythankyoumoreplease that I didn’t listen to was to not cast yourself in your own movie (laughs). It’s really hard to act and direct at the same time. In Liberal Arts, I’m actually in more of the movie than I was in Happythankyoumoreplease, so it was actually a touch more difficult.

That being said, I did have more confidence this time around since I had already done it before but still, directing is difficult no many how many films you’ve made. It was still an amazing experience though. Really, the trick to filmmaking is to surround yourself with amazing people who make you rise to the occasion. That’s what I did on both of my films.

We Got This Covered: Speaking of amazing people, how did you assemble the wonderful cast?

Josh Radnor: Well Richard [Jenkins] did a cameo for me in Happythankyoumoreplease and I’ve always been such a fan. I wrote the part in Liberal Arts for him and luckily he agreed to do it.

As for Elizabeth Olsen, a lot of people who see the film think I must have written the part for her because she just embodies the character. What happened though is I sent the script to my agent and it was her who recommended Elizabeth to me. And this was before Martha Marcy May Marlene hit Sundance, so people didn’t really know about Lizzy.

And Allison Janney, I’ve been a fan of hers for years and she actually graduated from the same college as me so I’ve been tracking her career.

We Got This Covered: Did casting Elizabeth Olsen before Martha Marcy May Marlene make you nervous at all since at that time she wasn’t a proven talent.

Josh Radnor: I met her before Sundance but I “officially” cast her after Sundance. When you see her and meet her though she exudes this great confidence. She has all the right qualities that made her right for the part. She is sophisticated and wise beyond her years but she also has these charming moments that remind you she’s a young person at heart. She was just right for the role in so many ways.

We Got This Covered: The film takes place at your old college, was anything else in the script based on your life?

Josh Radnor: No, my films are more thematically autobiographical rather than personally autobiographical. For Liberal Arts I just invented this story. The stuff I was dealing with though and thinking about, like aging and how sneakily that starts to happen, and nostalgia and books and learning, those are all things I was thinking about while writing the movie.

We Got This Covered: You’ve been on How I Met Your Mother for many, many years now. Do you feel that it’s gotten in the way of you’re directorial career?

Josh Radnor: Not really, I feel like the show has helped me in so many ways. There’s a lot of things I couldn’t of done without the show. Both of the films I’ve directed had 23 day shoots though so it’s not hard to balance. There hasn’t been a project where I felt that absolute need to direct it either. For me, it’s more if I haven’t written something, it’s a challenge to get to the guts of the script. I’m much more interested in writing my own stuff so it seems to be working out with my schedule.

We Got This Covered: So once the show ends, will you return to TV, or pursue more directing?

Josh Radnor: I keep playing this game, asking myself if I’m a writer, actor or director. Right now, I’m doing all of them and it’s been terrific. If you told me though that I had to retire from acting tomorrow I think I can rest easy knowing that I’ve done all these exciting things as an actor. If I had to turn my focus towards only writing and directing, I wouldn’t be unhappy about that.

We Got This Covered: Can you tell us officially when How I Met Your Mother will end?

Josh Radnor: I have no idea. Everyone knows that we need to figure it out quickly but none of us know what the status of it is. I wish I could be more specific.

That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Josh for talking with us. Be sure to check out Liberal Arts, now in theatres.

About the author

Matt Joseph

Matt Joseph is the co-founder, owner and Editor in Chief of We Got This Covered. He currently attends the University of Western Ontario and is studying at the Richard Ivey School of Business. He works on We Got This Covered in his spare time and enjoys writing for the site.