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The Real Reason Jim Parsons Failed His Audition As Barney For How I Met Your Mother
02/05/2023

How I Met Your Mother aired for 9 seasons. Though about Ted's love life, Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, became the breakout star. Without Harris, the character wouldn't have resonated so strongly.

However, Jim Parsons also auditioned to play Barney. Though known for The Big Bang Theory, he lost the How I Met Your Mother role to Harris. Still, Parsons remained linked to the character.

When auditioning, Harris demonstrated the charm, humor and energy Barney needed. His rendition captured the character's essence better than Parsons', impressing creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. They knew Harris was perfect for Barney.

Parsons was disappointed to miss playing Barney but gained Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. His show and character also achieved icon status. Despite losing the How I Met Your Mother part, Parsons' career thrived.

Still, connections between the sitcoms persist. In one episode, Sheldon argues Barney would best Ted in a fight, poking fun at Parsons losing the role to Harris. The subtle reference nods to their shows' shared status in sitcom history. 

Harris made Barney Stinson an unforgettable character that carried How I Met Your Mother. Though Parsons also auditioned, Harris' memorable performance secured his role as the lovable lothario. 

Both sitcoms and stars found major success and acclaim. Harris brought Barney to life with a magic that made the show a sensation. Though Parsons didn't get the chance to play Barney, as Sheldon he also created an iconic character on a beloved show. Despite one initial defeat, both ultimately triumphed.

Their memorable characters and shows will live on, connecting Harris, Parsons and sitcom fans for years to come. Each found the perfect part to showcase their talents, even if not the first one they pursued. 

Jim Parsons Auditioned To Play Barney Stinson In How I Met Your Mother

Before he landed a spot on , Jim Parsons was a lead contender for the role of Barney Stinson in . However, even before auditioning for the part, Parsons wasn’t convinced that Barney Stinson was the right part for him.

“It was one of the stranger experiences of my life,” Parsons admitted on an episode of . “Because you know how it is to audition for things. They come out with character breakdowns and stuff, and on this one, it specifically said: 'Barney, a big lug of a guy.' And I remember thinking, I got it and was like, ‘Who the hell looked at me and thinks ‘big lug of a guy?'” And it wasn’t offensive, I thought, ‘This is silly.'”

As it turns out, Neil Patrick Harris had similar thoughts while walking into his audition.

“I got an audition for this show called ,” , which I thought was a terrible title; when you have friends, and three’s company, you know, something that looks good on a cap. And then I read the part, and it was to play someone who was like rotund, cigar smoking Jack Black. I thought, ‘This is a multi camera comedy show. I’m not going to get this job.’”

Jim Parsons Might Not Have Been The Right Fit For Barney Stinson

Clinching the role of Sheldon Cooper transformed Jim Parsons from a Hollywood newcomer to one of the most celebrated actors of his generation. That said, audiences might have felt differently had he landed the role of Barney Stinson instead. Parsons himself has acknowledged that he might not have been a suitable choice for Barney Stinson.

“The funny thing about this is I auditioned to play Barney,” Parsons disclosed on an episode of , “and felt I was very wrong for it, and almost ran screaming from the room after I auditioned. Like, ‘Well I did that, and I don’t know why.’ They actually made me come back, as if they were interested.”

Jim Parsons Is Still Loosely Connected To Barney Stinson

The role of Barney Stinson eventually went to Neil Patrick Harris, who imbued the character with so much heart that he eventually became an ultimate fan favorite. The 49-year-old actor embodied the iconic character for close to a decade, and enjoyed every minute of it.

“Barney was this crazy, fun, delusional monkey head,” Harris told , “[He] got to every episode, tried different rules and pretend that life was way more exciting than it was actually was, lie about dates, and claim that he’d accomplished things that he hadn’t, wear sharp suits all the time; sort of be the devil of be the devil on your shoulder. Great gig! Did it for nine years. Loved it.”

Despite losing out on the role, Jim Parsons is still vaguely connected to the role. According to a faction of fandom, Sheldon Cooper and Barney Stinson have such diametrically opposed personalities that they could be the same character from alternate dimensions.

While appearing on an episode of , Jim Parsons responded to this fan theory saying, “I find this fascinating that I have this loose-ish connection to this part. And you’ve got this theory — that’s not true — but you’ve got that theory at all. 'Maybe I’m giving that vibe off. Maybe underneath this character I’ve been playing is a raging horndog and a womanizer.'"

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