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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Josh Radnor Anymore

For nine epic seasons of twists, turns, fake-outs, quick cuts, broad comedy, and grand romantic gestures, Josh Radnor anchored the popular CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Radnor portrayed the show's main character, Ted Mosby, a young architect absolutely heartsick and extremely motivated to find the woman of his dreams and the future mother to his two kids (to whom he's telling the story of the show in the future). Carrying a network sitcom on his shoulders was no easy task, and Radnor was up for the job, winning over viewers with Ted's impish smiles, endless optimism, and self-aware pretentiousness.

While How I Met Your Mother elevated the profiles of its already well-known cast members Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris, it made Radnor into a star. However, after the show wrapped up in early 2014, Radnor has surprisingly not been as prominent an actor as would be expected for the lead of a hit network sitcom. Here are some reasons why Josh Radnor doesn't appear in too many movies or TV shows these days.

He's having trouble leaving Ted Mosby behind

Josh Radnor certainly got that career-making "big break" that most up-and-coming actors dream of when he was cast as Ted Mosby on CBS' How I Met Your Mother in 2005. At that time, he'd worked mainly as a bit-part player on a handful of TV shows, and audiences didn't have any other roles to associate Radnor with other than Ted. And thus, the downside of portraying an iconic TV character manifested: Viewers imprinted Ted on Radnor and vice versa.

It's often tough for actors who've spent a long time playing one especially vital and unique character to shed that identity. For example, to many, Sarah Michelle Gellar will always be Buffy, Daniel Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter, and Radnor will always be Ted Mosby. That has quite possibly made it hard for the actor to land those post-Ted roles. Additionally, the controversial and widely reviled How I Met Your Mother twist ending diminished a lot of goodwill Radnor might have had from starring on a popular series for nine years.

He hasn't had much success as a film actor

Josh Radnor was virtually unknown when he booked his breakthrough role of Ted Mosby, the main character on network sitcom How I Met Your Mother. That's pretty much the best-case scenario possible for a young actor like Radnor was at the time. Prior to landing the labyrinthine rom-com, Radnor didn't have very many credits to his name. Apart from guest star shots on shows like Judging Amy, ER, Law and Order, and Six Feet Under, Radnor had appeared in just one film: He played a tour guide in the 2001 teen movie parody Not Another Teen Movie.

But since How I Met Your Mother made him a well-known entity with a familiar name and a familiar face, Radnor still hasn't found a role that made him a bankable big-screen presence. His most notable acting-only movie gigs came in small indies like Afternoon Delight, The Seeker, and Social Animals. The total worldwide box office take of those films: about $420,000. As a result, casting directors might not think of Radnor as a movie star.

He's moving into writing and directing films

While Radnor's movie-star career has proven to be a non-starter, that only applies to the films that he worked on solely as an actor. He may not need big movie studios to cast him in their projects because he's built up a side career as a filmmaker, writing and directing very personal and artistic works. Radnor also serves as his own leading man in his films.

His directorial debut was the affecting and unabashedly earnest Happythankyoumoreplease, a film about the power of small human connections and the importance of gratitude. Movie critics delivered it a so-so 42-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, but they seemed to like it at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award in the dramatic category.

Radnor continued his screenwriting and directing pursuits in 2012 with Liberal Arts, a romantic dramedy about a guy who returns to his old college and falls in love with a very dynamic female student (Elizabeth Olsen). It picked up a few film festival award nominations and earned a stellar 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. A deal to direct (but not act in) a sci-fi romance called The Leaves fell through, as the movie was never made, but Radnor's future just might lie in moviemaking.

His big TV comebacks fizzled out

While plenty of performers flit between the two worlds, some successful actors are "movie stars," and others are "television stars." There's certainly no shame in being in the latter camp, and Josh Radnor stands among their ranks. He was launched to stardom in 2005 with How I Met Your Mother, after doing primarily guest roles in TV.

After the show's nine-season run came to an end in 2014, Radnor took a much-deserved break before making his triumphant return in 2016. Like his previous works, it was a television project, but it was also unlike anything he'd ever done. The wacky sitcom hilarity of How I Met Your Mother was a far cry from Mercy Street, a stark and sad PBS drama about medical professionals working to save soldiers' lives during the Civil War. Radnor portrayed Dr. Jed Foster on the show, which disappeared after two short seasons of failing to garner Downton Abbey­­-style awards attention.

Undaunted, Radnor gave series television another try not long after the demise of Mercy Street, headlining the 2018 NBC drama Rise. Radnor portrayed a crusading teacher who takes over his high school's moribund drama program to turn it around and change his students' lives. NBC canceled the potential Radnor comeback after a single season.

He's busy trying to find love

Just like Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor has enjoyed and endured an active dating life. Seeking love and companionship and being in a relationship both take time and effort, so perhaps that has occupied Radnor when he might be otherwise off somewhere shooting some movies or a new TV series.

After meeting on the set of How I Met Your Mother in 2007, Radnor and Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Lindsay Price struck up a romance in 2008 and split up after about a year of dating. Radnor made celebrity news headlines again in 2013, after his one-year-plus relationship with Twilight actress Julia Jones came to an end, and again for his brief romance with Oscar winner Marisa Tomei. In 2016, Radnor had reportedly found something like love once more with Friday Night Lights actress Minka Kelly, only for it to all end just about three months later.

He gave writing books a shot

While he's primarily earned his living and built his name as an actor, Josh Radnor is a man of many interests. To that end, the long-time practitioner of meditation is an aspiring author of books about philosophy, spirituality, and personal growth. In 2012, he was set to release One Big Blissful Thing, which promised to be a humorous, inspirational book about "one man's unlikely spiritual awakening" and "Eat, Pray, Love for those who would rather be reading McSweeney's." However, One Big Blissful Thing was never published, thus delaying Radnor's prose-writing ambitions.

In 2016, Radnor landed a major deal with publisher HarperElixir to release a not-yet-titled book that sounds very similar to One Big Blissful Thing, the true story of "an ongoing quest that takes [the author and actor] from his youth in heartland Ohio to the unexpected lessons of celebrity and beyond." Also like One Big Blissful Thing: As of late 2020, this Radnor book has yet to see the inside of a bookstore.

Josh Radnor started dabbling in music

Perhaps Josh Radnor doesn't act as much these days because he's otherwise concerned with completely different artistic pursuits, particularly his development as an indie musician. Sometime in the mid-2000s, Australian singer-songwriter and former Noise Addict member Ben Lee visited the set of How I Met Your Mother, where he met and hit it off with the show's star, Josh Radnor. They started writing songs together and very slowly went about the art and business of making an album of mellow, folky pop rock.

After officially forming a band, the obviously titled Radnor & Lee, the duo released its first album, Radnor & Lee, in 2017. Radnor and Lee played a lot of tour dates in support of the record, and a stop in Brazil in 2018 was so impactful that it inspired another record, the much more swiftly written, recorded, and released Golden State, made available to the public in 2020.

He's put a lot of effort into stage acting

One big reason why Josh Radnor doesn't land all that many screen-acting roles as of late is because he's far too busy taking on big roles in plays and musicals at the highest levels of American theater. After starring in a 2011 concert version of the musical She Loves Me, he was set to headline the full-fledged revival but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with his PBS series Mercy Street. (His replacement: Shazam's Zachary Levi, who went on to receive a Tony Award nomination.)

Radnor still went on to be very active on the stage, appearing in the Broadway production of Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced and doing stints in off-Broadway plays White Rabbit Red Rabbit and The Babylon Line. Most recently, Radnor took his talents to Washington, DC, starring as nerdy, doomed botanist Seymour Krelborn in a 2018 Kennedy Center revival of Little Shop of Horrors.

How Josh Radnor can turn it around

Josh Radnor has made some eclectic choices after he finally met the fictional mother of his fictional kids in 2014. He certainly hasn't followed the typical path of most actors coming off of a venerable hit sitcom, choosing to take on dramatic roles on TV, on Broadway, and in indie films he writes and directs himself. But hey, he stays busy, and his curiosity and ambition should continue to serve him well. He's built up enough non-comedy side careers for himself — screenwriting, book writing, stage acting, and music, to cite a few examples — that he has a lot of avenues to pursue.

But still, Radnor continues to pop up on series television. As of 2020, he's a cast member on Amazon Video's Nazi-hunting comedy-drama Hunters with a supporting role, not the lead one, for a change. He plays Lonny Flash, a master of disguise and veteran actor.