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Neil Patrick Harris terrified own children with Lemony Snicket characters


Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf in A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf in A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf in A Series Of Unfortunate Events

How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris has told how he terrified his young children by recreating the characters from his new TV series for them.

Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf in A Series Of Unfortunate Events, based on the children's novels by Lemony Snicket.

The Netflix series required extensive prosthetics, as well as wigs, make-up and different voices, and Harris said his six-year-old twins Gideon and Harper were horrified by his changed persona.

He told the Press Association: " The kids saw me a lot when we were FaceTiming because they live in New York and we were shooting in Vancouver... so when they were going to bed was right after lunch time for me.

"I looked nothing like myself and that was weird.

"As Olaf it was fine because he looks like a fully formed person, but when I was Stefano for episodes three and four I had to completely shave my head, and I had a grey beard with no moustache that went straight down like I was in a Lord Of The Rings movie and glasses, and that was jarring for them.

"That will be some child psychologist's dream come true.

"They hated when I do the voices, which is funny, I looked like a hot mess.

"I would call and be Shirley St Ives from episode seven and eight and had a red wig and lipstick and freaky eye make-up and they were nonplussed by it unless I started talking in the voice.

"Then they would be like 'Stop it! Poppa, talk like a normal person!'"

Harris added that he stayed in character for much of the time he was on set, saying: " Mostly I did, which I think is a prick-ish thing to do as an actor, which is kind of why I did it.

"When I hear stories about pretentious actors who stay in character the whole time, I throw up in my mouth, but as Olaf he would do that and I had all that make-up on.

"If I could pop off the make-up and exist like myself I probably would have had more conversations like myself, but instead I just sat there and frowned at myself and thought that kids were annoying."

The books famously got the big screen treatment in 2004 with Jim Carrey in the Count Olaf role, but Harris said he did not watch the movie until he signed on for the part.

He said: "W hat I didn't want to do was be blissfully ignorant of the movie's aesthetic and then accidentally choose something similar, because then I feel we would have been in more weird comparative competition or something, so I watched the movie and saw what he did.

"But this isn't my first time doing a gig that someone else has done, I've done a lot of Broadway shows and I am well aware and relatively selfless in that way, professionally.

"I will watch stuff that people do and say that is the perfect choice, I'm not going to not do that choice to just be different, that's dumb, but at the same time I watch things and say 'Oh that was a missed opportunity', and try to refine it.

"For me the missed opportunities in the movie were they didn't have the time to tell the story in great detail because they covered so much in the movie so quickly, so they do one scene and then jump to the next book for another scene, and that was unfortunate."

Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events streams on Netflix on January 13.

PA Media