‘How I Met Your Mother’: Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel’s Chemistry Saved His Audition

Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan play Marshall and Lily in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Hannigan was a guarantee to play Lily during the audition process, but Segel had to work a bit harder to land a role on the show. Find out how a previous movie saved Segel and Hannigan’s chemistry read for HIMYM from becoming a disaster.

Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) look shocked in an episode of 'How I Met Your Mother'
Alyson Hannigan as Lily and Jason Segel as Marshall | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Alyson Hannigan was the first choice to play Lily in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ 

How I Met Your Mother‘s characters are based on the lives of the show’s creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. Ted and Marshall represent the duo in the series, and Lily is based on Thomas’ wife Rebecca Alson-Milkman. 

An enormous Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, Alson-Milkman immediately requested Hannigan play her in the sitcom. “Arguably that’s why we cast Alyson,” Thomas told Zap2It in 2005. “None of us knew about Buffy, and my wife said,’ Watch Buffy.’ And we became almost embarrassingly huge Buffy dorks to the point where I think Alyson is uncomfortable around us sometimes.”

Alyson Hannigan thought she ruined Jason Segel’s ‘HIMYM’ chemistry read 

During an interview with The Office’s Brian Baumgartner on iHeart Radio’s Off the Beat podcast, Hannigan talked about her audition for How I Met Your Mother. “I hate auditioning,” the Buffy star admitted. “I’m not a great auditioner — it’s such a different skill set.” 

“I get too in my head and I leave my body and start judging myself,” she continued. Regardless, Hannigan’s initial audition went well. When they brought her back to do a chemistry read with Segel, Hannigan said she “totally jumped on one of [Segel’s] jokes.” 

“I was like [gasps], ‘[I’m] such a jerk, I just ruined his chances,'” Hannigan recalled. “But we both played it off and the chemistry was clearly there.”

As she mentioned during her conversation with Baumgartner, Hannigan and Segel worked together previously on a movie called Dead Man on Campus. Fortunately, there was some residual chemistry from that project. She concluded: “I was so concerned that I blew it for him because I screwed up one of his punchlines. Thank God he got it.” 

Kissing Jason Segel for ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was challenging for Alyson Hannigan

As an on-screen couple, Hannigan and Segel had a lot of kissing scenes in How I Met Your Mother. In a 2008 interview with Digital Spy, Hannigan compared kissing Segel to kissing an ashtray. “I cannot stand cigarette smoke,” Hannigan explained. “It’s like kissing an ashtray and he’s trying to be polite by having gum or mints, but it doesn’t help.” 

Marshall (Jason Segel) kisses Lily (Alyson Hannigan) in 'HIMYM'
Alyson Hannigan as Lily, Jason Segel as Marshall | Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)

Throughout their time on the show, Hannigan tried to help Segel kick his smoking habit. Nothing seemed to work though, even their system where Segel had to pay Hannigan every time he lit a cigarette. 

“When we started the pilot [for the show] he was like, ‘Get me to stop smoking, I’ll be your best friend,'” Hannigan explained. “So we did this bet where he would owe me $10 every time he had a cigarette. After the first day, he owed me $200.” Despite Hannigan’s help, Segel continued smoking. 

Alyson Hannigan cried over no longer getting to work with Jason Segel

How I Met Your Mother ended in March 2014. During their final press circuit as a cast, Hannigan was often asked about what she would miss most working with Segel. In an interview with The Talk, she broke down crying. 

“He’s such a wonderful guy,” Hannigan started, stopping to hold back tears. “I’m not going to miss him,” she joked. 

Watch How I Met Your Mother on Hulu.

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