BEVERLY HILLS – Cobie Smulders is embracing a topic people often avoid: cancer.
The "How I Met Your Mother" and "Avengers" actress stars in new ABC detective series, "Stumptown," premiering Wednesday (10 EDT/PDT), that's one of USA TODAY's top fall TV picks. Last month, she was asked how the "really tough times" she had experienced influenced her acting.
"I think you're talking about cancer. We're going to get real right now. I love it. … Let's do this," says Smulders, who revealed in 2015 that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was just 25 years-old, during the third season of "HIMYM" (which ran from 2005 to 2014).
Smulders told Women's Health magazine in 2015 that she had tumors on both of her ovaries and that it had spread to her lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. It took multiple surgeries over two years to remove the cancerous tissue.
"I think that going through (cancer) has made me a better person, a better mother, certainly able to tap into things in terms of creating characters," Smulders says. "But I think the general overall gift, if cancer can give you a gift, is being grateful for being here."
"And being able to have gone through something like that, … when other things bubble up that are trying, you go, 'Well, it wasn't that. I'm not in that hospital anymore,'" she adds. "So, I am now in a grateful place with it."
Asked if surviving cancer made her stronger, Smulders, the mother of two daughters with husband Taran Killam of ABC's "Single Parents," says, "I'm a survivor – and grateful for that. I will say it has brought me to this place of more strengths."
In "Stumptown," based on a graphic-novel series set in Portland, Ore., Smulders plays Dex Parios, a smart, assertive private investigator with a messy love life and gambling issues who relies on strong military intelligence skills from her service in Afghanistan. She also suffers from PTSD.
She says the role is much different from her "HIMYM" character, Robin Scherbatsky, but that she didn't take it for that reason.
"You want to chose something you’re never going to be bored with … a character you want to live with for a while. I just fell in love with this character. There’s certainly aspects of Scherbatsky in there," she says, while acknowledging the format and shooting style vary greatly from "HIMYM." "It was more about finding something (that) would always be challenging and fun to play rather than finding something that's a polar opposite."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cobie Smulders says going through cancer made her stronger