"No, I didn't fart. Did you?"

To answer your question: Josh Radnor, the “How I Met Your Mother” actor who wrote, directed and stars in the coming-of-age, indie rock-flavored dramedy “Happythankyoumoreplease,” doesn’t want to be seen as the next Zach Braff (“Scrubs,” “Garden State”). Or the next anything, really.

“When someone does something new or someone new comes [along], [talk about them is] all referential, like, ‘Oh they’re kind of like so-and-so meets so-and-so,’” says the Ohio-native, Los Angeles-dwelling actor, 36, by phone from New York. “I hope that I make enough films that I just become my own thing.”

Radnor’s certainly putting a more positive spin on the problems of directionless 20-somethings with “Happythankyoumoreplease.” He plays Sam, an aspiring novelist whose routine of one-night stands and hanging out with his best, no-more-stable friends (Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan) is shaken up when he takes in a young boy (Michael Algieri) who’s separated from his unhappy family on the subway.

It’s a sometimes too-cute movie in which happiness is only a matter of perspective, which Radnor, who’s certainly reminiscent of his idealist TV character, Ted Mosby, says is something he wants to believe about the world. That is why he’s trying to make a movie “that would give me a different perspective on my life and would make me feel better by the time the movie was over.”
We asked him for more perspective on his first moviemaking experience, the conclusion of “How I Met Your Mother” and if he has anything to say to his troubled CBS comedy colleague Charlie Sheen at the next network meeting. (He doesn’t.)

If Ted Mosby went to a screening of “Happythankyoumoreplease,” what would he say afterward?

That’s really interesting. No one’s asked me that. I think that he would totally dig this movie because he’s really sincere and he’s really thoughtful and I think he’s a little nostalgic, but he’s also really doing his best to make the present moment OK. Ted’s a little past-obsessed and a little future-obsessed. He’s more than a little future-obsessed. But I think he would feel gratified by—this is actually really fun for me to consider—I think he would feel grateful that someone was telling him to calm down and it’s all going to be OK. ’Cause I think that’s sometimes maybe what he needs.

What was a moment in the process of making “Happythankyoumoreplease” when you told yourself, “It’s OK, it’s my first time. Next time I’ll do it better.”?

Well, probably when I was saying “Hold the roll” and I meant “keep rolling.” I did that for the first two days before my [assistant director] pulled me aside and he said, “Look, man, you really mean ‘Keep rolling.’ You don’t mean ‘Hold the roll.’ ‘Hold the roll’ means stop, and you mean keep rolling.”

So no one else would point it out?

He just said, “Look, the crew knows what you mean, but it’d be better if you said the right words.” [Laughs.] I was clueless about certain things … I hope I keep this on my second film, but because I was a novice filmmaker I realized that it was OK to say, “I don’t know” or, “Please explain that to me, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I ended up saying it quite a bit, but I checked my pride at the door. Even though I was the captain of the ship I needed someone to explain to me sometimes how the ship sailed. [Laughs.]

My friends and I have been searching for a Chicago version of MacLaren’s. What advice do you have for us?

I think you just have to take over a place, right? [Laughs.] Like just keep showing up and keep sitting in the same booth and kind of declare yourself a regular. I assume that’s how that’s done.

So it doesn’t matter what the place is like?

Well, there’s certainly enough wood-paneled Irish places that you can park yourself at, right?


So just pick the one you feel best at and put your flag in it.

How concerned are you about Ted’s children, as they listen to his story, spending six, seven years in the same room without food, water or a bathroom break?

Yeah, either it’s literally taking this long to tell the story and they’re just well-preserved somehow, or it’s one really, really long afternoon. I think that’s what they have in mind ’cause they haven’t changed their clothes. I mean, you’re right to worry about them.

I’m just worried that after we meet the mother, the kids will say, “Dad, how about some dinner?”

Yeah, yeah. There must be some sort of massive prize waiting for them at the end of this, ’cause most kids I don’t think have the patience to sit there and listen to all that.