Photography by Michael Muller
Neil Patrick Harris has become America's naughty-yet-nice sweetheart over the past decade—in large part to his raunchy, randy straight roles on TV (How I Met Your Mother) and in cult movies (Harold & Kumar). Now he's preparing to take the lead role in Hedwig in the Angry Inch for its Broadway premiere next month. Although he's been dropping hints about what it was like to wear fishnets and cinch himself into the show's corseted costume, for Out's April cover story with Aaron Hicklin, Harris lets it all hang out (including posing shirtless while covered in glitter). Here's 10 things you shouldn't miss.
1. On performing in drag
“Hedwig is bringing up a lot of super insecure things within me,” concedes Harris. “I have never thought drag was intoxicating, I’ve never had a fun drunken Halloween in drag, never been in heels, really. I’ve lived my whole life being attracted by masculinity — it’s why I like guys. I’m not a super effete person, and I have to turn into that, and in doing so it brings up a lot of homophobic insecurities within myself.”
2. On risks he's willing to take while on stage
"I’m looking forward to squatting down in front of the first row and having people spit in my mouth. It’s that kind of show. I’m anxious, one night, to fall backwards and be led on my back by people with their hands outstretched.” Harris pauses. “I don’t think that will ever happen, but that’s the vibe I’m looking for — that’s the vibe I have to embrace. I don’t fucking care — you gotta go to a nasty place.”
3. On why women still love him
“I’ve found that a lot of girls have no issue with me being gay,” he says with a laugh. “They still want to marry me. And I love that.”
4. On how he's similar to his son Gideon
Lately he has caught his reflection in his 3-year-old son, Gideon. “He asks ‘Why?’ now, for everything,” Harris says. “We’re very similar. It seems he wants to break things down and figure them out. We both have kind of the furrowed brow — we want to get to the core of things.”
5. On sex scenes in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s thriller Gone Girl.
“We had to rehearse the sex scene with David, like every inch of it — ‘Then you put your mouth on his dick here, and then this number of thrusts, and then you ejaculate,’ ” recalls Harris. “It was weird because we’re technically breaking down the sex scene... And yet, through all of that, the whole ‘I’m gay’ element was never even thought about.”
6. On the special properties of pineapple juice
“It makes me feel tropical,” he says, pausing, “and it makes my semen taste delicious.”
7. On his greatest fear
Haunted houses, skydiving, bungee jumping, tightrope-walking, trapeze-swinging, riding the rollercoaster, you name it — so long as it doesn’t involve a ball (a celebrity basketball match is his greatest fear), he’ll do it.
8. On feeling awkward as the center of attention
“Do you know the feeling when a birthday cake is in front of you and everyone is singing ‘Happy Birthday’?” he asks. “There’s that weird, uncomfortable thing, of I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react. Am I supposed to look at every person or look at the cake? I want it to be over with — it’s that feeling that all the attention is on you, and they are waiting to see what your reaction is.”
9. On who he was before and after coming out
“I was equally horned up as Barney pre– and post–coming out.”
10. On how Hedwig may jump-start a new phase in his life
"I won’t ever be able to play someone like Barney again because he’s so unique, but we had over 200 episodes,” he says. “And my exclusivity deal is done with Fox.” He waits another beat, and smiles. “So finally I’ll be able to do more porn.”