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Why The Mother From How I Met Your Mother Looks So Familiar

After eight seasons of build-up, the titular "mother" on How I Met Your Mother was finally revealed at the conclusion of the series' eighth season in 2013. It was one of the most anticipated moments in TV history, and so the absolute perfect actress had to be cast. She had to look at least a little like the actors playing her TV kids, she had to have chemistry with Josh Radnor (the actor who portrayed How I Met Your Mother's protagonist Ted Mosby), and she had to be so charming that it would've been worth waiting eight years for her debut. 

Producers somehow found their actress: a then little-known actress named Cristin Milioti. Ted fell in love with her character, Tracy, while audiences were left wondering just where they'd seen Milioti before. Here's what else she's appeared in, both before and after How I Met Your Mother.

Theater (2006-present)

Hardcore fans of the New York theater scene, or even those who have just caught a major musical or play in the years before the final years of How I Met Your Mother, may have recognized Milioti from her stage work. She's performed steadily both on and off Broadway for more than a decade

When the 2007 indie film Once, about the profound, touching relationship between an Irish busker and a Czech pianist, was adapted for the theater, Milioti originated the lead female role of "Girl." She held the role from its development at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011 and into the show's Broadway run a year later. She even earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Among Milioti's other high-profile theater work: she co-starred in the 2010 revival of the classic play The Little Foxes, and was involved in the 2015 workshopping of the David Bowie musical Lazarus.

The Sopranos (2006-2007)

While pursuing a career as a stage actor in New York, Milioti landed roles in some TV productions based out of the Tri-State area, notably on The Sopranos. Toward the end of the HBO mob drama's run, Milioti portrayed Catherine Sacrimoni, daughter of John Sacrimoni, a.k.a. Johnny Sack, the eventual and ruthless boss of the Lupertazzi crime family. 

Milioti and her character served to highlight some difficult family issues. For example, Johnny Sack's wife and other daughter are overweight, and Johnny Sack is so sensitive to jokes about it that he once ordered (but called off) a hit on somebody who cracked one. Contrary to other women in her family, Catherine is rail thin, and worries that her family is food-obsessed. It was a complex character with just a few appearances, which also included Milioti playing Catherine watching her father die.

30 Rock (2011)

Another New York-based TV show that hired Milioti was 30 Rock. In 2011, Milioti portrayed a seemingly shallow, bimbo-esque standup comedian named Abby Flynn who talks like a "sexy baby," which men seemed to enjoy. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) hires her to be a writer for TGS with Tracy Jordan, after a blog accuses the sketch comedy show of being misogynistic. Milioti has to do some high-wire comic acting—as it turns out, the stereotypical Abby Flynn act is a ruse; she's really a comedian named Abby Grossman hiding under the affected voice and blond hair of Abby Flynn to hide from a crazed ex-husband.

Sleepwalk With Me (2012)

Milioti's diverse career spanning multiple media made her uniquely suited for a role in Sleepwalk With Me. Stand-up comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia has presented Sleepwalk With Me as a one-man show, a book, and in 2012, a feature film. In the largely autobiographical dramedy about the comedian's history of severe sleep disorders (along with his anxieties over his career and romantic life), Milioti portrayed Janet Pandamiglio, Birbiglia's sister. The small film was a critical hit and played well on the festival circuit, winning an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Milioti became a full-time cast member of How I Met Your Mother in the fall of 2013, right around the same time as the release of The Wolf of Wall Street, in which she had a prominent supporting role. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (for Martin Scorsese), the film is a darkly comic biopic about the rise and fall of disgraced stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). 

Milioti is crucial in the first part, or "rise" section of the movie. She portrayed Teresa Petrillo, the sweet and patient first wife of Belfort... whom he leaves for blonde bombshell Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie). Milioti is all New Jersey accent (she's a native of the Garden State) and huge '80s hair, and she gets a big moment in the movie, a sad/angry confrontation with DiCaprio's character over his affair.

A to Z (2014-2015)

Unfortunately, the very nature of her role on How I Met Your Mother meant Milioti was out of work after the show's final season of 2013–2014. But by fall 2014, Milioti was already starring in another network sitcom. 

Something of a successor to How I Met Your Mother with its rom-com sensibility and slow-build storyline, A to Z aimed to tell the complete story of a relationship from the "meet cute" to the "happily ever after" (or the split). Ben Feldman of Mad Men portrayed Andrew (the "A" of A to Z) opposite Milioti's Zelda (the "Z"). Despite some critical praise for the show and cast, the series didn't attract much of an audience, and NBC broke up with A to Z after 13 episodes.

Fargo (2015)

Milioti popped up in a small but pivotal role in the second season of FX's Fargo that mirrors her role on How I Met Your Mother. On HIMYM, her character dies, clearing the way for a controversial conclusion in which Ted reunites with Robin (Cobie Smulders). On Fargo, Milioti's character is dying of cancer, and her appearance heartbreakingly links the second season of the series with the first. In the '70s-set second season, Milioti plays Betsy Solverson, wife of state trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson). Their daughter, Molly Solverson, grows up to become a cop, too... as played by Allison Tolman in the 2006-set first season of Fargo.

The Mindy Project (2015-2016)

In 2015, Milioti scored a recurring role on The Mindy Project. She played Whitney, a tough-as-nails, workaholic hedge fund manager. Milioti's character appeared in five episodes, dating one of the doctors (Ed Weeks) in the sitcom's central medical practice and also becoming a new, if brief, best friend for Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling). 

Whitney is a money genius who helps the scatterbrained Mindy get her finances in order. It also turns out that the gas that makes Whitney's fast-paced life go is cocaine: lots of cocaine. It all gives Milioti a chance to do some broad and wacky comedy.