The Strange Reason Neil Patrick Harris Said No To American Horror Story

Neil Patrick Harris has had a pretty huge run in recent years, starring in a variety of TV programs and movies, including The Smurfs 2, How I Met Your Mother, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and most recently, Gone Girl. However, there was one opportunity where the actor definitely missed the mark. Harris says that he and his husband, David Burtka, were asked to play a couple in American Horror Story: Murder House, but he put his foot down to say no.

According to Harris, he and Burtka had recently appeared in in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D. In the movie, they played a pretty fucked up couple. Burtka’s a drug dealer and both are pretending to be gay and just fighting and bickering constantly. Harris tells EW that the role didn’t seem to be a good idea at the time, because it would have required himself and Burtka to play another unhappy couple. Here’s how he and Burtka ended up turning down American Horror Story: Murder House.

“Right after that, we were asked to be in Season One of this great new show called American Horror Story. And the idea was that we would be a gay couple, that, as it turns out, were murdered in this house and then their ghosts are around. It seemed cool. Loved Ryan [Murphy], loved the idea of a horror anthology show. Knew nothing about it, but we had just played ourselves as a couple, not getting along, and I thought, it just seems weird to do that twice, like as individual actors, to play a couple that hates each other twice. It just felt weird. So I said no, that we shouldn’t do it. And David wanted to. I said, ‘I just don’t want people to know us as the couple that don’t like each other. That seems weird.’ And then wouldn’t you know, American Horror Story is a big success and super awesome.”

That first season on the air, American Horror Story was a hit, so much so that Ryan Murphy decided to rework the series in order to keep the same basic horror idea and write totally different storylines and characters each season. Burtka and Harris’ ultimate refusal to appear on American Horror Story ended up opening the roles for Teddy Sears and Zachary Quinto, the latter of which went on to take a role in American Horror Story: Asylum, as well. In fact, a large percentage of the actors working on American Horror Story have returned for multiple seasons, which would have been a great deal for Burtka, who didn’t have a large TV gig like Harris had with How I Met Your Mother at the time.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the two guys, but since American Horror Story’s latest season, Freak Show, seems to be proving the show is not dipping in quality or viewership in the least, perhaps Murphy will find room for the guys down the road. In the meantime, you can catch the incredible and large ensemble cast Ryan Murphy has put together this season when American Horror Story: Freak Show airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.