A lot of sitcom stars spend their down time looking for roles in movies. "How I Met Your Mother" star Josh Radnor spent his down time writing one.
Radnor wears three hats - writer, director, and star - on his debut film “Happythankyoumoreplease,” a Sundance favorite earlier this year. “I started writing it during the first two seasons, just on and off,” Radnor tells PopcornBiz. “I was always doing readings as I would get new drafts and I have a bunch of actor friends – I'd give them some wine and some crackers and they would sit around happily read the script. That's when I really learned that I should probably direct it.”
In the film, Radnor plays an aspiring novelist who’s flailing in both his fledgling career and his romantic pursuits. His life takes a turn when he winds up the unofficial custodian of an abandoned nine-year-old he encounters on the subway. Radnor says the premise has its roots in his own life.
“I was a camp counselor when I was in high school at this day camp, and there was a kid named Rasheen who was bouncing around to all these different foster homes,” he explains. “I thought that he was really special and sweet, kind of troubled. He would hit people if you didn't look, but whenever I was around he was perfectly well-behaved. I tried to stay in touch with him and I lost touch. I always wondered what happened to him. So I think on some level, writing this movie and naming the kid Rasheen was like trying to artistically take care of him.”
After a few years of refining, Radnor ultimately landed the financing for a 23-day shoot in New York, working with a cast that includes Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, Tony Hale and Zoey Kazan. “The movie is about gratitude, and I found myself just so grateful in every moment,” he says. “Like, 'I can't believe that all this amazing talent has risen up to support this vision, and all these people are here and we're all making the same movie. Somehow I've tricked all these all people into thinking this is a good idea.'”
He had to put the finishing touches on the film while simultaneously shooting his sitcom’s fifth season. “For the first three months I was editing at every free moment,” Radnor recalls. “I don't even recall shooting those episodes – I hope they're good! It was a really exciting time, to watch the movie come together, but it was also probably good for me to have some place that I had to be, so that I wouldn't just be obsessively staring at the movie the whole time.”