The True Story of Mandy Moore’s Cameo in How I Met Your Mother

Mandy Moore was one of How I Met Your Mother’s earliest celebrity cameos, with the bizarre role helping change the public perception of the actress at the time. While How I Met Your Mother saw plenty of celebrity cameos during its 9-season run, a trend that the How I Met Your Father spin-off series is also likely to continue. During the course of the original show, major stars like Britney Spears, Katy Perry, William Zabka, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez all appeared in one or more episodes. Moore appeared in a significant episode of How I Met Your Mother season 3, portraying a role that helped break the actress’s good-girl image.

Mandy Moore guest stars in How I Met Your Mother’s season 3 premiere, “Wait For It,” as Amy, the cool, rebellious, tattooed girl Ted meets and hooks up with at MacLaren’s. Ted had just broken up with Robin, and Amy was the first girl in his rebound stage, with Ted trying to “win the breakup” after Robin returned home from Argentina with Enrique Iglesias’ Gael. Amy and Ted spend the night stealing liquor, getting tattoos, breaking into a family’s hot tub, and showing a healthy amount of PDA at HIMYM’s MacLaren’s Pub. As out-of-character Amy was for Ted to be dating, she seemed just as a choice at the time for Mandy Moore to be playing.

The character was so different from her typical roles that many didn’t even recognize Mandy Moore as portraying the character. Mandy Moore’s short-lived stint on How I Met Your Mother was one of the first instances in which the young pop star and actress was able to deviate from her girl-next-door, more conservative reputation. Donning tattoos and streaked hair, breaking into another family’s house and hot tub, and aggressively making out with Josh Radnor’s Ted in public allowed audiences to see Moore in a completely different light. As a testament to her acting skills that would eventually earn her an Emmy nomination with NBC’s This Is Us, Moore brilliantly went way outside of her comfort zone for How I Met Your Mother’s 2007 episode. The episode also came during one of Moore’s biggest years for movies, appearing in Because I Said So, License to Wed, Dedication, and Southland Tales. The How I Met Your Mother cameo was also a good way to promote the star’s fourth studio album, “Wild Hope.”

Moore’s performance made Amy one of the most memorable one-episode characters in the series. While Amy was clearly more “1994 Courtney Love” (as Barney put it) than a typical Mandy Moore type of girl, she was also very obviously not a Ted kind of girl. Just as Mandy Moore was putting on a completely different persona from her real-life reputation, How I Met Your Mother’s episode parallels this with Ted fictionally trying to tackle the same bad-boy image transformation.

Before her 2007 cameo on How I Met Your Mother, Moore was known for her 1999 hit pop song “Candy,” her role as reserved and conservative minister’s daughter, Jamie, in A Walk to Remember, and playing a devout conservative Christian in Saved! in 2004. As such, Amy was a jarring departure from her typical roles, and How I Met Your Mother allowed Moore to prove that she didn’t need to be confined by her previous typecasting.

Following her How I Met Your Mother cameo and style-changing music album “Wild Hope,” Moore began receiving more risqué, gritty, and nuanced roles, breaking out of the exclusively good-girl image the public had given her. While Moore continued to expand her acting chops, she still maintained many of her sweeter roles that hark back to her younger reputation, such as voicing Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled. At the same time, the darker aspects of Mandy Moore’s minor role on How I Met Your Mother would come back in This Is Us while reaching the complexities and gradations of Rebecca Pearson’s character.

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