Last week I asked you to submit questions for my interview with Ellen D. Williams, the actress who plays Patrice on How I Met Your Mother. So here is the interview.
Have you been a fan of HIMYM or did you just sort of stumble into the role?
A little bit of both. I’ve been a fan of the show and the actors in it for a while now but when I found out about the audition for Patrice it kind of came out nowhere. As an actor, your agent or manager submits you and if the casting director wants you to come in and audition they let your representation know. I went in and auditioned and found out I booked the part a week later.
When you got the role of Patrice last year, did you expect it to be this big?
NO, I had no idea it would turn into a recurring character. Like I said it was supposed to be just a one line co-star. The first episode I shot was “The Stinson Missile Crisis” and they liked what I did so much that they had said they wanted to bring me back. They weren’t sure when but then I was brought back in the second half of the season.
How has working on HIMYM changed your life?
It hasn’t changed my life, per say, but it definitely has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not many people get to have their TV debut be in a hit television show with a cast that consists of pretty big stars.
Have you met anyone who has shouted mockingly at you like Robin shouts at Patrice?
Just friends and family but not anyone else, yet.
Where do you draw inspiration from for the character Patrice?
The first episode I worked on was really all about facial expressions, reacting to all of the gifts that Barney was bringing Nora. I knew she was someone who was excited and wanted the best for others. I knew that she was someone who always saw the good in people and was excited about their accomplishments so I kind of just went with that after the first episode.
How did you feel when you first started working with a star cast like HIMYM?
Initially, I only worked with NPH and Cobie Smulders, the next episode was with Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor and I didn’t meant Jason Segel or Alyson Hannigan until this current season of shooting. It was pretty intimidating to be around all of them at the same time because they are such huge stars but they are all extremely nice and wonderful people. Since I’ve worked with Cobie the most I’ve spent the most time with her and she is one of the most sweet, giving, down to earth actresses I know.
How has it been working with the cast and crew?
Again, the cast is awesome and the crew is amazing. The set is run like a well oiled machine. Everyone that works on that show is so warm, welcoming, supportive and professional. It has a real family feel and it’s always a huge pleasure to work with everyone.
Do the cast members at HIMYM ever play any gags on each other? If so, what has been the funniest (if you have observed any)?
I can’t think of any gags they have played on each other while I have been around. There is a lot of fun and laughter that happens on set for sure, though.
How do you and Cobie get along when the cameras aren't rolling?
I think some of my most special times on set have been when Cobie and I have been in between takes and we just have talked and gotten to know each other. Again, she’s one of the most giving actors I’ve ever worked with, extremely supportive, and so talented and funny. I absolutely adore her!
What do you think it is about this show that makes it different to other sitcoms these days?
Well, probably the story line and how it plays with time. I think the whole concept of the show and having it based on the meeting of Ted’s wife, the mother of his children is something so original and unlike anything else that has been on TV. That we get glimpses into the lives of these 5 people and then all of a sudden you are pulled from the story and then have to figure out what just happened. It’s somewhat like a mystery novel, putting pieces together to make sense of other things.
What do you think of each member of the cast and Pamela Fryman, the director?
Again, all the cast members are great people. Now, when I talk about Pam Fryman, I get goose bumps. She is so incredible to work with. She’s nurturing, professional, warm and brilliant at working with people. I could go on and on about her. One of my most favorite things when I get on set is to see Pam and get a hug from her. She really is a special person.
What are your thoughts on Patrice's "obsession" with Robin? Why do you want to be friends with her so badly?
I think, for Patrice there is just something about Robin that she really likes and admires. I think she really sees the best in everyone and just wants to be nurturing to those around her. And even when Robin yells at her it just kind of rolls off Patrice’s back.
In Season 7 episode "No Pressure", Patrice was called Robin's "arch-enemy". What was the reason behind that?
Remember the show works in flashbacks.
Why do you think Robin hates Patrice so much?
I don’t think Robin hates Patrice but because Patrice is constantly not bothered by how Robin treats her I think it aggravates Robin even more.
Do you want Robin and Patrice to become real friends?
Well, in Patrice’s mind they are real friends!
Does Patrice ever get mad? Are you anything like her in real life?
No, I don’t think Patrice really ever gets mad. She’s a glass half full kind of gal. I’m like Patrice in the ways that she is kind and nurturing but she is a lot more naïve than me.
What is Patrice's job at World Wide News?
That’s a good question. I think she’s a producer.
Without giving away any scenes from future episodes, what has been your favourite HIMYM episode or scene?
I think the previous episode, “The Over-Correction”, was the most fun episode to shoot. They have all been fun but I loved the physicality of the last episode, very much like the play “Noises Off.” The next episode (ep. 11) was a fun one to shoot too.
Have you come up with a backstory for Patrice? If so, what is it?
Oh, the backstory I’ve created is somewhat long … too long to share.
We already know that Robin and Barney do get married, is there a chance of seeing Patrice attending the wedding?
I don’t know. Maybe. That would be great.
What would you like to see happen to the character Patrice?
That she gets a spin off show!
What are your thoughts on Barney and Robin's relationship?
Wait and find out.
Do you think that Patrice knows about Barney and Robin's past, and that Barney was trying to get Robin just a few weeks before she started seeing him?
I think she knows that they used to date but I don’t think she knows details.
Would you enjoy shouting at Cobie like she shouts at you?
Awww, no, not really. Now would Patrice like to shout back at Robin, probably not either. When we shot the episode that involved Robin and Patrice’s BFF Fun Day I had to do a lot of improvisation for the photo stills. At one point Pam wanted to just get some fun shots where Robin was talking Patrice’s ear off and was getting annoyed by it. It was fun to switch things up for a minute.
If the show continues with a ninth season would you like to come back once in a while?
Yes. Absolutely. Please. Thank you.
Out of all your acting roles, which character have you identified the most with?
I did a play many years back. The character was very close to me and my experiences. I identified with that character the most for sure.
Where did you enjoy working on more; stage or TV?
They are both so different. I just enjoy acting/working, period.
Are you working on any other projects?
I’m currently writing and work with friends in a comedy troupe. I’ve been busy the past four months doing two plays, directing and shooting HIMYM so I’m on a much needed hiatus right now and getting ready for pilot season.
Thanks for taking out the time for this question answers session Ellen. I really appreciate it, and so do your fans who submitted these questions to me.