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‘How I Met Your Mother’ Star Josh Radnor Says Success Isn’t Always What It’s Made Out To Be

How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor has had his fair share of success in the entertainment industry.

He rose to fame for his portrayal of Ted Mosby, starred in various hit Broadway shows, wrote and directed the acclaimed comedy-drama Happythankyoumoreplease, and released his band’s first album in 2017.

Radnor spoke about his life and how success isn’t always what it’s made out to be in front of a sold-out crowd of students Thursday night in the HUB. The lecture was held as part of the Student Programming Association’s Distinguished Speaker series.

Carly Weiss | Onward State

Naturally, a lot of students asked questions about his most famous character — Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother. While Radnor says he’s “intensely grateful” to the show, he doesn’t want to let the success of the sitcom define the rest of his career and who he is.

“If I compared the rest of my career to what [How I Met Your Mother] became, it’s always going to feel a little bit weird no matter what the quality of the show is,” Radnor said.

The actor also discussed how valuable it is to talk about what success is and isn’t. He initially thought being on a hit television show that a many people knew and not having to worry about, for example, health insurance fit the definition of success.

“I found that the opposite happened,” he said. “My life got very complicated, and I got very depressed. You end up feeling like, ‘I want this all to go away, or I want five times more of it.’ The idea that success is going to save you is so thick.”

Radnor also talked about how music has become a creative outlet for him to express himself. On top of acting, Radnor and singer Ben Lee are in a band called — you guessed it — “Radnor & Lee.” During his lecture, he performed two of his band’s original songs: “Ohio” and “Outside In.”

Radnor said that he’s easier on himself now because he failed so much early in his career, mostly due to perfectionism. He’s found that people are interested in watching others struggle to figure something out much more than they’re interested in perfection.

He said that being an actor was good for him — there were numerous jobs he didn’t get outside of the field before becoming the star of How I Met Your Mother. Radnor also explained that not all rejection is created equally, and advised students to dismiss the idea that they have to be rich and famous by the time they’re in their 20s.

“Life is about keeping going until you can meet the person who you know you are.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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