Book Smarts: Josh Radnor

This is an attempt at starting up another regular feature for this blog. For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by celebrities who do more than just look pretty and post the apparently mandatory social media post(s) a day. Celebrities who are obviously intelligent and use their public status to bring attention to a piece of art or news interest me. I want to know about how they write their short films or direct their first full-length feature. I want to hear about what they’re reading and what books have always been important to them. I want to hear their thoughts about life.

So, after a weekend of reading any Josh Radnor interview I could find (blame Mercy Street), I’m now inspired to regularly feature a celebrity who has given fans a look into his or her intellect and thoughts about the world. We’ll see how well this goes for me, and who knows, maybe it’ll return!

So, I admit that Josh Radnor is so well known for playing Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother that it’s odd to see him in any other role without picturing Ted going on one of his slightly pretentious, snobby role-plays. God knows that it’s what throwing me off when I watch him as a Civil War doctor in Mercy Street. Although his character in Liberal Arts (which he also wrote and directed) is still fairly similar to Ted, this film is one of my favorites. It just gives me the feels. While Radnor could still be accused of self-inserting himself into a movie where he’s the star, the fact that this is his personal project definitely gives you insight into who he really is.

Based off this script, Radnor comes across as sentimental, but ultimately aware of the importance of the presence. He proves he appreciates simpler, almost old-fashioned lifestyles that have gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of new technology.

The video that kicked off my Radnor news binge was a speech he gave entitled “Fame’s lesson plan.”


He shares that, once it was clear that How I Met Your Mother was becoming a success, he asked himself what kind of public persona he wanted to have. He also touches upon encountering depression when the show climbed towards its peak of popularity. Radnor linked his unhappiness to needing to work on himself, which I admire because it seems that, as a society, it’s easy to forget that everyone is always a work in progress. People in their teens and twenties are written off as not knowing who they are and having to better themselves, but I think any age can and should do this.

You can also just look at his Twitter to learn that Radnor is well-read and a strong admirer of his costars and friends. Yes, there are still a lot of Mosby-esque comments here, but I interpret that as a deep love for anything to do with words and stories. In a media-driven age, this is just refreshing to see from someone in the public eye.

Finally, Josh Radnor totally won me over with this quote in an interview he did with GQ when Mercy Street was about to premiere:

Why do you think there aren’t as many American history drama right now as in, say, Britain?

I guess the easy answer is we’re young. They have eight times the amount of history to delve into for dramatic adaptations. In some ways Americans are the teenagers of the world, if you look at the grand sweep of who’s older and how long we’ve been around. Teenagers aren’t that interested in their family history. They want to go out and do the latest thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my new go-to explanation of American vs. British media.

So there you have it. In the land of Kardashians and over-filtered selfies, Josh Radnor is a refreshing respite, promoting quality work and worthwhile stories.

What about you? Are there any celebrities you may admire for an unconventional reason?

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