The Shady Side Of Neil Patrick Harris

This feature contains references to addiction, suicide, and transphobic language.

Neil Patrick Harris is one of those rare Hollywood gems who seemingly survived the pitfalls of childhood fame to enjoy a thriving professional career as an adult. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Harris started acting at a very young age. He swaggered his way into fans' hearts as Barney Stinson, a sassy, conceited, suit-wearing womanizer who was somehow still lovable and boasted a big heart. From his days as Dr. Douglas "Doogie" Howser, Harris has managed to stay relevant and iconic as one of the most versatile actors in the game. But as much as it pains us to break the news, The Barnacle has also done some not-so-legendary things over the years. 

We get it. Just like every other human being, celebrities are not perfect. But when you are in the spotlight and have thousands of people looking up to you, there is not much elbow room for messing up. As the shady side of Harris suggests, the "Gone Girl" star has certainly had his moments ... 

The Amy Winehouse meat platter incident

Throughout her career, Amy Winehouse's troubled life was tabloid fodder, her every move documented and served to readers in the form of often sensationalized tales. As noted by Pitchfork, the singer's struggles with addiction were also often openly mocked. On July 23, 2011, the "Back to Black" singer tragically died of alcohol poisoning. But as her friend Naomi Parry reflected to The Guardian, Winehouse's life was much more than a storm-tossed spectacle. "Lots of people loved her [but] only a few of us knew the truth," she stated. Regardless, there were some who continued to make light of her death.

Less than three months after the icon's passing, Neil Patrick Harris had the worst Halloween idea in the history of Halloween ideas — a meat platter graphically rendered to resemble Winehouse's rotting corpse. Harris and his husband, David Burtka, served the dish at a party in their home, and thought it would be cool to name it, "The Corpse of Amy Winehouse." If you're wondering, the platter looked exactly as it sounds — utterly gross.

In May 2022, the image resurfaced on social media and Harris faced a surge of renewed backlash for the bad taste buffet item. In a statement given to Entertainment Weekly, an apologetic Harris expressed contrition for the dish. "It was regrettable then, and it remains regrettable now," he said. "Amy Winehouse was a once-in-a-generation talent, and I'm sorry for any hurt this image caused."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Harris once had beef with Mayim Bialik

Just like Neil Patrick Harris, Mayim Bialik started her acting career as a teen. As the "Blossom" star told Chicago Tribune, the two shared an agent and a social circle, and a friendship naturally followed. "We had a lot of fun times together as teenagers," she said. "We were these nerdy child star people." In 1990, Bialk guest-starred in "Doogie Howser, M.D" — for paltry pay, as she noted in an amusing Instagram post – and Harris made an appearance in her sitcom "Blossom," a year later. Still, their long-standing Hollywood friendship was apparently tested by a rough patch in the '90s. 

During an episode of "The Late Late Show with James Corden," Bialik confessed that their relationship turned sour after she went to see Harris perform in the musical, "Rent." The "Big Bang Theory" star, who admittedly is not a big fan of musicals, was not majorly impressed with Harris' performance that day. In fact, everyone but her gave him a standing ovation. "But when your friend is in the play and then everybody's clapping at the end and you say to your boyfriend next to you, 'I don't want to stand for this,' and then you look up and Neil Patrick Harris is looking right at you, it's a bad day," she told Corden. Unfortunately, Harris was reading her lips and later confronted her. Bialik was speechless. "... We didn't speak for a long time," she recalled.

He publicly blanked Rachel Bloom

Neil Patrick Harris isn't one of those celebrities known for controversial Twitter posts. But that is not to say he has a great track record, either. In 2018, the actor couldn't attend the Tony Awards. However, his millions of Twitter followers had the pleasure of reading his live commentary throughout the event. In a seemingly innocuous tweet, he wrote, "Who is the woman in the top hat backstage at @TheTonyAwards?" Referencing his son, he continued, "Gideon remarked that she says 'like' and 'oh my god' a lot. I'm confused ..." 

The woman in question was Rachel Bloom, one of the creators and stars of the hit musical comedy "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." Unfortunately for Harris, he had actually met her on multiple occasions. Disappointed by Harris' tweet, she responded (via IndieWire) about their multiple interactions and shared that her husband had also been a writer for "How I Met Your Mother." There was even photographic evidence of Harris and Bloom sharing a scene together in the sitcom. 

Later, Bloom elaborated on how Harris' reaction made her feel in an interview with GQ. "Basically ... I saw that tweet. And I was kind of devastated," she said. "I was actually going to tweet, 'This makes me sad.'" The star added that she and Harris hung out in the dressing room of a Broadway show not long ago before the incident. Following her interview, Harris posted an apology to Bloom on Twitter.

His terrible Oscar jokes

When it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be hosting the 2015 Oscars, everyone expected the event to be filled with good jokes, high energy, and the star's musical prowess. While the actor had proven his capabilities with his Tony hosting gigs, he unexpectedly failed to live up to the hype. With all his charisma and comedic genius, Harris could not outdo himself. The four-hour event got progressively boring as the actor cracked one awkward joke after another

Harris opened the ceremony with a misguided quip about the lack of diversity in that year's nominees. "Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest. Sorry — I mean brightest," he joked. While he made the gag with good intentions, the overwhelming lack of diversity was definitely not something to laugh about. In fact, it prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to trend on social media. Outlets like Rolling Stone even noted that the joke was a low point of the event. 

The actor drew further ire after cracking a joke about a nominee's dress — just moments after she'd paid tribute to her dead son on stage. Per US Weekly, producer Dana Perry spoke about her son's suicide while accepting the award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Failing to read the room, Harris returned to the stage and quipped about her fluffy bobble-adorned frock, "It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that." Per the outlet, the wisecrack was not well received.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Harris swore at a fan mid-performance

We're all susceptible to having one of those days where we get annoyed by anything and everything. Celebrities are no different than us, and one cannot expect them to be at their best every day. While our random tantrums might not make headlines, stars are vulnerable to having their worst moments witnessed, exposed, and published for the whole world to see. Believe it or not, our very own Doogie can be temperamental, too.

Neil Patrick Harris' secret shady side apparently showed itself when he cussed out a fan who was expressing their love for him. Per Page Six, in 2014, the star was in the middle of his performance for the Broadway show, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" when a woman interrupted him to yell out "I love you, Neil!" When the star promptly yelled back, "I'm doing something up here, ­motherf***er!" he was reportedly met with widespread applause. She probably did not expect her affection to be returned with profanity, but oh well.

According to Daily Mail, Harris' representative clarified the actor's mid-performance outburst. Apparently, he was simply responding to the audience member in character as Hedwig — an East German Punk with an acid tongue. "It was all done in good fun, and fully in the context of the show," the rep explained. "The audience went crazy and it really was a light-hearted moment." 

He used a slur on live TV

In 2011, GLAAD called out Neil Patrick Harris for his use of a transphobic slur during his appearance on "Live With Kelly!" Per Entertainment Weekly, in the episode, Harris and host Kelly Ripa inhaled some sulfur hexaflouride as a part of a science experiment. When inhaled, the dense gas can alter a person's voice and greatly deepen their tone. 

Naturally, it was all fun and games, with Harris performing an uncanny impression of deep-voiced serial killer Buffalo Bill from "The Silence of the Lambs." But when the gas expired, Harris remarked, "I've never sounded more like a tr*nny in my life." As noted by Vox, the depiction of Buffalo Bill, a killer with implied gender dysphoria, has also been criticized by some as being damaging to the transgender community. 

After facing backlash from the LGBTQ community, Harris took to Twitter to apologize. "Truly sorry for saying the word 'tr***y' on Live this week. Twice! Should have been more thoughtful. Didn't at all mean to offend," he wrote. GLAAD later issued a statement accepting his apology and explaining the harrowing reality behind the pejorative term. "Many people do not realize that the word "tr*nny" is one of the most hurtful and dehumanizing slurs that transgender people hear," they wrote in a blog post. "Most transgender people associate that word with personal experiences of violence, hatred, and derision."

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.