Fall TV Preview

A to Z Star Cristin Milioti Talks Hitting the Rom-Com Jackpot (Again) — Plus: Why HIMYM's Ending Was 'Brave'

A to Z Premiere Preview

How I Met Your Mother‘s titular mama Cristin Milioti is finally getting her happy ending — or is she?

On NBC’s new rom-com A to Z (premiering Thursday at 9:30/8:30c), Milioti stars as the rational Zelda, who gets swept away by Andrew, a hopeful romantic played by Ben Feldman (Mad Men). But, as we are informed in the pilot, the pair only dates for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour.

So what happens after the courtship? (Hopefully nothing quite as sad as the actress’ fate on How I Met Your Mother — although, as you’ll see, Milioti usually prefers darker outcomes.)

During TVLine’s visit to the A to Z set, the actress opened up about taking on another romantic comedy, singing as part of her new gig and striking the on-screen chemistry jackpot yet again. Plus, she explains why HIMYM‘s ending was “brave,” despite the many tears she shed over it.

RELATED A to Z Producers Address the Rom-Com Couple’s (Doomed?) Future

TVLINE | Was there any apprehension or concern about doing another high-concept romantic comedy right after How I Met Your Mother?
I never thought about it until we started shooting. Then a couple people were like, “Oh, it’s a lot like How I Met Your Mother,” and I was like, “It is?” Yes, it is because it’s about destiny, but I feel like it’s so different. I knew that I wanted to do another comedy. I really enjoy working in television because you can sit with a character for a really long time. I love film, too, but I like that you can go on some much longer, more personal journey because you see this person every week, and I knew I wanted to do a comedy because I loved it.

TVLINE | Did you find yourself just really wanting to tap into those skills again once it was over?
How I Met Your Mother was so much fun. There was never a day where I was like, “Oh, this again.” In fact, I was devastated when it ended. I would’ve come in every day, 15 hours a day… With films and theater, I’ve done usually more serious roles, which is also very fun, but draining in a way. In comedy, you’re on your toes a lot more, which I also really like. It feels like your brain is doing jumping jacks all the time, especially because we’re pretty loose here. Like, we’ll do one with the lines, and we’ll do one much looser and with improvisation. It’s just so much fun.

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A to Z PreviewTVLINE | I didn’t think it was possible to top Tracy and Ted Mosby, but you and Ben Feldman are so terrific together. What was your first impression of him?
I was attached already, and we did a chemistry read for his network test. So we met in a conference room at NBC Universal for 20 minutes before we went in together. We just ran the scenes, and we were both so nervous and so sweaty and then he just knocked it out of the park. It was just instantly there, and I’d read with a lot of guys who were all wonderful, who were so great and so funny and such lovely people, but there was just something there. It’s like you can’t quite put your finger on it. That’s why chemistry is so cool. That’s why casting is so cool. It’s that intangible stuff that makes something work.

TVLINE | There’s a mystery in the show about what happens after the eight months or so that Andrew and Zelda date. It could go badly, it could end, or they could get engaged.
I think I differ greatly on this because I always like things to take a darker turn. I’m like, “Well, they break up.” We don’t know. [Creator] Ben [Queen] won’t tell us. We did some promo thing where it was me, Feldman and Ben Queen in the center, and Ben Queen was like, “What do you guys think happens?” and I was like, “Well, they break up, obviously,” and then Ben Feldman thinks they get married.

TVLINE | You take after your characters.
We do. And it’s the only way we do. I just think it’s very interesting to have them break up and then see how they have to deal with that. But I guess maybe that doesn’t work for comedy, but I think it does.

TVLINE | How does Zelda compare to Tracy? She’s a pretty different character in a lot of ways.
[Laughs] Yeah, super different, which also appealed to me. Tracy was a character that was incredibly open and wore her heart on her sleeve like Ted. Zelda has a lot of walls up and doesn’t even know about some of the walls; she’s the main problem. Andrew would get married tomorrow. The conflict is Zelda, that she won’t go there, that she always finds an excuse to not let go even though it’s what she really, really, really wants… Zelda is much more fearful.

VIDEO How I Met Your Mother Stars Praise Series Finale, Express ‘Relief’ — Plus: Who Learned the Ending Last?

TVLINE | When are we going to get to hear you sing on the show? That has to happen. [Milioti won a Grammy Award and earned a Tony Award nomination for her work in Broadway’s Once.]
I don’t know. [Laughs] I don’t know. I do play an instrument.

TVLINE | Do you want to sing on the show?
Yeah. I asked if I could sing badly. That pitch didn’t go well. I was like, “What if she sings really badly and is tone deaf?” and they were like, “No.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | Is this show as secretive as How I Met Your Mother was?
Hell, no. I think How I Met Your Mother was secretive because that was the last season, and I ended up sitting on that huge reveal… I don’t like giving anything away because I wouldn’t want to know. That’s why you tune in. I would get so confused when people would be like, “What happens to the mother at the end? Is it true? Does she die? What’s going on?” And I’d be like, “Why would you ever want to even know? It’s going to air in two weeks. Just watch it in two weeks. You don’t want to watch it knowing.”

How I Met Your Mother FinaleTVLINE | Now that you’ve had some distance and time from How I Met Your Mother, what did you think of the finale? Did you like the twist?
[Creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays] told me at the Christmas party. Craig sat me down and told me [about the twist]. He can tell you: I burst into tears and I was like, “That’s so sad. Why would that happen? He finally found someone. Why would you do that?” through tears. But then what was really great about it is that Craig and Carter made that decision 10 years ago, and that it is so wonderful that that was their vision and they did it and it was true to life. Life throws you enormous curveballs that you are entirely unprepared for, and that’s what that episode was taking the audience through — the emotions of really appreciating every day you have with someone because life happens and it’s so beautiful, but also so hard. That was really brave of them to do that, to stick to their guns about it.

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26 Comments
  1. jason says:

    Too bad that the creators had the vision of the ending of HIMYM TEN years ago and were too stubborn to change it. They created a show, nurtured it, allowed it to grow, but then didn’t learn from it. They wanted their destiny, and nothing was going to change it, even the natural dynamics of a story, situation, etc. I understand every writer has a vision, but people should be open to change regardless of the artistic form.

    • starfang0 says:

      If they wanted the show to end on the note they planned, the last seasons should have focused on that instead of wasting time on secondary things, especially in the end game. They had FOUR years to pull it off naturally, rather from the butt.
      Bottom line: you don’t make an eye sore to the devoted fans and viewers of the show, the only reason why they managed to stay around for almost a decade, just for being edgy and “realistic”.

      Honestly, Friends’ creators were more respectful and skilled compared to Carter and Craig.

      • Ann says:

        They did pull it off naturally with subtle hints at her untimely death. It didn’t come out of nowhere. I had said for years that the mother was dead in the future and the reason Ted was telling the story to his kids…again…and started the story with him meeting Robin was because he was finally able to move on and was asking his kids for the blessing to be able to do so. Anyone who was surprised by that ending didn’t really watch they show. The problem with the show was that it ran about two years too long, so the writers had to add too many filler episodes to stretch out the story, as evidenced with the entire ninth season.

    • Brooke says:

      Yeah, bravery would be admitting you’ve moved away from your original idea that that it’s time to try something new.

  2. Jakob says:

    Still think Carter and Craig are coward for not doing any post-finale intetviews.

  3. Mike B says:

    that’s exactly why I loved the himym finale. will check her new show out

  4. Regina says:

    I don’t want to hear any more HIMYM cast members trying to justify that horrible ending! People should stop asking them that. None of them are going to say they hated it, which is all I want to hear! Every time they post some new comment about one of the actors saying how brave and original the ending was it makes me furious all over again. I want to move on!

    • starfang0 says:

      Is a better option giving up on TV news site all togheter. Or only the ones without the function to read ONLY the news of the shows you want to follow.

    • Little Scarf Girl says:

      Agreed. They can’t say anything BAD outright about it, but “it’s so great they stuck to their vision” is the worst defense ever. :P

  5. Leah says:

    I am so excited for this show. I love Cristin and I love Ben and I just SO hope it gets the viewers!

  6. Joey Padron says:

    Good interview with Cristin. She was great on HIMYM. First episode of A to Z was good. Looking forward to more episodes.

  7. Tom says:

    I urge everyone to please avoid the HIMYM comparisons and give A to Z a chance. It’s delightful!!! Love Cristin and will watch anything she does!

    • John NYC says:

      Indeed, I’ve no ill feeling to the actors. Now the creators? I’ll never watch anything with their names associated to it. Trust won’t ever grow back.

    • TV Gord says:

      I agree! I thought the pilot was terrific and it’s the most promising show of all of the romantic comedies launching this season! I hope people give it a chance!

  8. Rex says:

    The ending that shall not be named! I love how she cant lie and say she liked it, she just says it’s ” brave”

    • starfang0 says:

      Just give them five or nine years and they will admit it wasn’t good. If not, let’s forget about it.

      • Tookie Clothespin says:

        I don’t think that they will. If you listen to the cast members talk it’s not just praise for the episode. They go way overboard talking about it like it’s the best thing that they ever saw. I loved the ending but, I still think that it had it’s faults. I really believe the cast when they say how great that they think it is and think that they will think that way going to their grave.

  9. ankga says:

    i love christin millioty.. she is so cute!!

  10. I watched the pilot online. It felt like a generic rom-com with a HIMYM kind of structure. I’ll pass.

  11. Tran says:

    NBC has high hopes for A to Z even though I watched the premiere episode On Demand and it’s definitely a must-see. In my opinion, the best new comedy of the season.

  12. John NYC says:

    “That’s so sad. Why would that happen? He finally found someone. Why would you do that?”

    Precisely.

  13. Matt says:

    Milioti talks as if her character was a primary one on HIMYM and that viewers gave a hoot about her.

    • Riley says:

      I can appreciate you didn’t give a hoot about her but there were a good amount of fans, including me, who fell in love with her in that role. I thought with very little screen time she made a big impact. I’ll watch anything she’s in going forward, hope A to Z ends up being a good show!

  14. jj says:

    I don’t have a problem with the death of Mother in HIMYM. However I do have a problem with the ending putting Ted and Robin back together. Like the kids said “This wasn’t about Mom. It’s about Aunt Robin.” So the title of the show should never had been HIMYM.

  15. HAP says:

    This show has been a “best new comedy” choice by many critics. My fear is the its scheduling may cause its downfall. Its lead-in Bad Judge has gotten tepid at best reviews. So if folks tune out NBC at 9, I don’t see them coming back 1/2 hour later.