Eight seasons of anticipation are about to be satisfied as "How I Met Your Mother" finally meets The Mother (capital "T," capital "M"). Actress Cristin Milioti has already received a lot of attention for the role. Though she's had only a few seconds of screen time, she's already been deluged with fans wanting pictures and "quite a few" hugs.
The secrecy involved in The Mother's introduction (Milioti hasn't been told the character's real name — unless maybe her last name is Yourmother) has been well-documented. Smuggled in a dark coat, under cover of night, all of the extras on set were either writers and producers. "It felt like I was some sort of secret assassin," she said of her first experience on the show in a conference call with the media.
But since then, the cast members have gone out of their way to make her feel like part of the family. Plucked from a Broadway show ("Once" for which she received a Tony nomination) with a cast that had been together for two years, she was sensitive to the "HIMYM" cast having been together for eight. "But everyone really did go above and beyond to make me feel so welcome," she said, and her anxieties were quickly put to rest.
Watch a sneak peek of "HIMYM" with Milioti:
Casting a role with so many expectations is difficult, and Milioti isn't sure what persuaded show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to pick her. They knew her from her guest role on "30 Rock," and they saw her in "Once." But she thinks the deciding factor might have been their shared sense of humor. "Those two guys are so funny and so warm, and we just have a very similar sensibility about what's funny. And we both like 'Star Wars.'"
Though she had never watched the show before getting cast, she has since seen the entire series and was taken aback by how emotional she got watching the show, including a number of episodes that made her cry. "The one where Robin and Ted were covered in the tomato sauce and they ask each other where they're going to be in five years, when Marshall's dad dies, when Barney wants Ben Vereen to be his dad so badly."
"I will say the one I laughed the hardest in — I had to pause the DVD player, crying, laughing — was when Jason's character figures out how to make slideshows on the computer with photographs and music, and he does one called 'cat funeral' and I just lost my mind."
Of all the past guests that she hopes will make an appearance in the final season, she holds out the most hope for John Lithgow. Milioti had done some readings with him, and they had rubbed elbows doing press for the Tony Awards. Coincidentally, he was backstage the night she was running to catch her plane to L.A. for her "HIMYM" audition. He offered to join her on the way to the airport, carrying her suitcase, offering support, and helping her through her nerves.
"He was saying, 'Are you happy? Is this television show something you want?' And I was like, 'Yes, it is! It is something I want!' and he was like, 'Well, best of luck to you! You'll get it!'" She discovered later that he had appeared on the show (as Barney's father). "So I would love love love to somehow, just for my own sense of things coming together, get to work with him on the show. That would mean the world to me. I don't know how it would make much sense for the show." Of course, it wouldn't be that unlikely for Barney's father to show up at his son's wedding...
NPH talks having Lithgow play Barney's dad:
"How I Met Your Mother" premieres Sept. 30 at 8 p.m., but Milioti also promises something she's shot for the episode airing November 4 will be "really, really exciting and wonderful for fans of the show."
The cast talks the Mother: