How I Met Your Mother’s original casting would have reunited two famous American Pie co-stars, which would have been a bad thing in the long run. How I Met Your Mother became a huge hit after a few years on the air, but the series was not an immediate smash success. Beginning in 2005 shortly after Friends wrapped up, How I Met Your Mother did not immediately command the same huge audience as that show.
One of the biggest problems How I Met Your Mother faced was with its protagonist, Ted. A vocal portion of the fan base found the show’s ostensible hero to be one of its less engaging characters. This proved a bigger problem than the Friends fandom’s Ross detractors because Ted was also How I Met Your Mother’s narrator and POV character. Yet How I Met Your Mother’s original casting could have made this issue much worse.
Before Josh Radnor was offered the role of Ted, American Pie franchise star Jason Biggs turned down the part. The role would have reunited him with his American Pie love interest, Alyson Hannigan, who played Lily on How I Met Your Mother. While this sounds fun, How I Met Your Mother’s Ted problem could have been even worse if the hero and his friend were played by actors who were best known for portraying a couple together. While Alyson Hannigan had great chemistry with Jason Segel from the start, she and Biggs had played Jim and Michelle in three hugely successful American Pie movies, the last of which was in cinemas a little over a year before How I Met Your Mother began. They were instantly recognizable as a screen couple, and both Ted’s lovable sad-sack role and Lily’s quirky, spunky personality in How I Met Your Mother were not too far from Jim and Michelle, respectively.
Why Jason Biggs Turned Down How I Met Your Mother
Although he lived to regret the decision, Jason Biggs admitted that back in 2005 he didn’t know if he wanted to “do TV,” and this led him to turn down the role of How I Met Your Mother’s lead, Ted. Ultimately, Biggs made the right decision, as the humor of How I Met Your Mother, while more family-friendly, was a similar mixture of rom-com sweetness and bawdy gags that made the American Pie series work. They were far from identical, but How I Met Your Mother and American Pie were still too similar to share a leading duo without feeling over-familiar.
Not only that, but the fact that Alyson Hannigan and Jason Biggs hadn’t been seen together onscreen in almost a decade was a big part of what made 2012’s American Reunion a success. That fourth American Pie movie wouldn’t have been a nostalgic throwback if the actors had spent the intervening decade working together consistently, and How I Met Your Mother’s sitcom formula would have struggled to set itself apart from the competition if the series was constantly fighting comparisons to a hit movie franchise. As such, it was ultimately for the best that How I Met Your Mother’s casting didn’t turn the show into an unintentional American Pie reunion.
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