Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

September 20, 2013

Neil Patrick Harris is magic ambassador

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Neil Patrick Harris is magical, and not just because he can sing, dance, act and host the Tony and Emmy awards. He’s actually magical, like in the abracadabra way, and has been since he was a kid.

Long before he was “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” Harris loved magic. Every trip to his grandparents’ house in Albuquerque meant a visit to the local magic shop, where he used his allowance to add a card or coin trick to his collection, mastering the new illusion on the ride home.

These days, the 40-year-old entertainer injects magic into most everything he does. He levitates an Emmy trophy in advertisements for Sunday’s big show, which he’s hosting for the second time. His “How I Met Your Mother” character, Barney, dabbles in magic. And Harris often does magic tricks on talk shows.

He also makes countless hours of his free time disappear as leader of the Academy of Magical Arts, which is headquartered at the famed Magic Castle on a hill overlooking Hollywood.

“If magicians and magic work well, it really amazes people at a core level, and that level stays with them for a long, long time,” Harris said in a recent interview, sitting in one of the Magic Castle’s many theaters. “You can talk to almost anyone and ask them to recount when they saw a magic trick and they get that giddy expression... I like knowing that the end result is that reaction.”

Harris knows the historic, Victorian-style Magic Castle like a favorite trick — the winding corridors and staircases as familiar to him as the “How I Met Your Mother” set. He greets staff members by name, fiddles with temperamental switches himself and feels proud of the place’s progress under his leadership.

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