Directing Debut in ‘happythankyoumoreplease’ is About Gratitute, Positivism
He might not be able to tell you how he met your mother, but one thing Josh Radnor probably can share with you how to be happy and say “thank you, more please!” In fact, so convicted is Mr. Radnor in gratitude, positivism, and the karmic universe, he chose to title his debut film happythankmoreplease, which is now playing in theaters and stars Mr. Radnor, Kate Mara, Malin Akerman, Michael Algieri, Tony Hale, Zoe Kazan, and Pablo Schreiber.
After gaining acclaim on the stage and in CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, Mr. Radnor took the plunge into film in writing, directing, and starring in happythankyoumoreplease, a film he truly believed from day one had legs to transform into a legitimate production.
“I always loved writing. This was the script that really felt, to me, like the one that was really going to be a movie. It felt like this one I was writing to make, not writing to kill time,” Mr. Radnor excitedly said about his foray into the cinema space while chatting about the film in a room inside the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles.
Being his directorial debut, Mr. Radnor was hopeful people would walk away from happythankyoumoreplease
entertained and not view the film as being preachy.
“First performance, you just want to make a film people enjoy. I don’t think it’s my role to teach people,” Mr. Radnor humbly said. “Although I am trying to learn things as a person as I make these movies, so it’s kind of like I am working myself out publicly, in a way.”
In working himself out while tiptoeing around preachy characterizations, Mr. Radnor takes the title of his film true to heart and hopes audiences will do the same.
“To me, gratitude is a really vital, important force … misunderstood on some level. I think we live in a society that’s always telling us what’s wrong with ourselves,” Mr. Radnor observed. “As an anecdote to that, I always want to feel like, ‘what’s going right?’ I feel like it’s easier to go toward the joyless, cynical place, and it requires so much more work and vigilance to go toward the other place, but it’s so much more worth it. Nothing really gets accomplished by pessimists. Optimists gets things done.”
Taking his statements one step further, Mr. Radnor offered a refreshing take on the state of independent cinema, pondering why a non-studio production has to be cynical or self-deprecating.
“Why do we think it’s more sophisticated to have everyone dead in the end, or shaken or broken, as if that somehow reflects reality? That’s not my reality,” Mr. Radnor stated. “My reality is people are damaged like everyone else but doing the best they can. I surround myself with positive, interesting people.
“It’s not a good story to tell yourself how shitty we all are. We have every possibility in us. Go toward the thing that is kinder, more compassionate, more forgiving--all the things we would most want to encourage in the world.”
Mutually and communally embracing the spirit of Mr. Radnor’s vision was the adorable cast of happythankyoumoreplease
, who were vital in delivering home the positive ideals the film’s director hoped would define the production.
“I think a lot of the actors really wanted to be in the movie and fought to be in an inspiring way. The cast was ultimately people who shared this philosophy because they wanted to help tell this story,” Mr. Radnor passionately confessed. “So much of the movie is me, but it’s also all their big beating hearts in the movie too.”
Indeed, happythankyoumoreplease is as much about Josh Radnor as it is about the unique characters he carefully created. To that end, he sees a little bit of himself in every aspect of the film.
“I think I am in every character--it’s not just Sam. When you are writing, you are stepping into the shoes of the character and playing out, 'Okay, how would this feel if this person said this to me? How would I respond, given all the things I’ve already established about this character?'” he told Buzzine. “Rather than saying, ‘I’m like Sam,’ it’s more like ‘that movie is like me’ on some level. But I’m also going to make other movies that will be totally different from this one, and those will also be me.”
Still, no matter how different each of his films will be, hopefully Mr. Radnor will walk away from each film HAPPY and say “Thank You! More Please!”
'happythankyoumoreplease' is an Anchor Bay Films release and is now playing.