Neil Patrick Harris on Guest-Judging American Idol Auditions: 'I Shattered Dreams'


It started with a cameo in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and spiraled into stints with the Tonys and Emmys; Neil Patrick Harris's rapidly expanding brand has helped him succeed Whoopi Goldberg as America's Guest Host. And unlike his award show gigs, Harris's upcoming guest judge spot on American Idol might actually get him watched by more than members of entertainment guilds. Find out how Harris scored the last-minute American Idol opportunity via text message, what he drank out of his Coca-Cola cup and how some auditioning singers just need to be told "that they're terrible."

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Harris discussed his work as a guest judge for one day of Idol's Dallas auditions. Excerpts below.

The fateful text message that clinched him the guest-spot:

"Kara texted me -- I was doing a photo shoot for Playboy magazine with Josh [Radnor] and Jason [Segel] and a goat, for the launch of How I Met Your Mother. If that wasn't weird enough, I get this text saying, 'Hey, you want to get on a plane and be a guest judge on AI in Dallas, Texas?' And I said there was no way I could do it -- we had a whole run-through yesterday. I called [HIMYM director] Pam Fryman, who's our mentor, expecting her to say no. She called [HIMYM creators] Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and then she called me back and said, "We think you should go for it. It sounds like a great, fun time." So I said, "Oh. Really? I was kind of hoping for a no. It would have made life a lot easier."

On being intimidated by Simon:

"It's [Simon's] show, you know, so when you're on that panel, I was wondering if it's impolite to disagree with him, on a business level. He could wander over to the producer and whisper something and you're suddenly gone and Joe Jonas is back. But I asked him, 'Is it okay if I disagree with you?' And he said, 'Yes, do whatever you want. The one thing that you should know is that we're totally winging it. We have no idea what's going on. We have no idea what we're doing here. We just judge the people as we see them.' Which I kind of thought was a joke. In point of fact, it really isn't."

What was inside his red Coca-Cola cup:

"Mine had sugar-free Red Bull. I mean, four hours of judging, you need something to pick you up."

On whether he changed any lives:

"I shattered dreams. When someone sits outside for 11 hours in Dallas, Texas, to audition for American Idol, a show that they've seen, they know the beratement. They know the caustic judgment. And then they come out and they sing and they're terrible. And they seriously think that they're talented. They must be told that they're terrible."

No word on whether Max Casella will be judging Dance Your Ass Off.

· Neil Patrick Harris on judging 'Idol' and bringing 'So You Think You Can Dance' to the Emmys [Entertainment Weekly]