Through the years we’ve seen her umbrella, her apartment, and even her foot. But finally, in the last seconds of season 8, we came face-to-face with The Mother. EW has the first interview with the woman who landed the titular role on the CBS hit How I Met Your Mother: Cristin Milioti, a 28-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J., native and Tony-nominee for her role as “Girl” in the Broadway smash Once. We were on set when Milioti filmed her first scenes of the new season, premiering Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. (Spoiler alert: Said scenes involve cookies and a catfight.) The actress has an exciting few months coming up; along with circling her future on-screen husband on HIMYM, she’ll appear opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street out Nov. 15. Check out our Q&A with the incredibly sweet, rising star and watch her play a game of “Finish The Line: HIMYM version” in the video below.
EW: You played Girl in “Once,” now “The Mother” on HIMYM. So we have to ask: What is it with you and nameless characters?
Cristin Milioti: You know what? You are the first -person to bring that to my attention, and you’ve blown my mind. Maybe I don’t have a memorable face. [Editor’s note: Not true.] That is really weird.
EW: Tell us about your audition process.
Cristin Milioti: I received a phone call from my agents, and they said, “How I Met Your Mother would like to interview you for a possible character arc,” and I asked, “What’s the character?” And they said, “We don’t know.” So I had a Skype meeting with [creators] Craig [Thomas] and Carter [Bays], and we talked maybe for a half hour. I told them about Once, and a few days later they sent people to the show. Then I was told that I was going to fly to L.A. to test for this role, but I still had no idea what it was. They were so secretive, so I had my suspicions. The day I shot [my first scene], it was really on lockdown. All the extras in that train station are producers and writers of the show. It was so beautiful, because I got to meet everyone and they were incredibly welcoming.
EW: What did you know about the show before you got the role?
Cristin Milioti: I feel really weird about this, but I had never seen it. My whole time in New York I lived in one of those lofts with a giant projection screen, so we just watched TV on the Internet, and I never had the experience of flipping through the channels. I’m catching up on them now — I watch them every day at breakfast.
EW: What have you learned about The Mother so far?
Cristin Milioti: She has a unique sense of humor that is very similar to Ted’s. She’s a young woman who suffers from dad humor…that’s how she rolls. Someone who says a joke and you’re immediately like, “Daaaadd!” Corny isn’t even the word — a little nerdy.
EW: How’d you get into acting?
Cristin Milioti: Before middle school, my parents had sent me to this, like, really hippie summer camp called Long Lake that was all about Do you want batik? Or do you want to make candles? I met this girl from Venezuela who buzzed her head. She was, like, 16 and beautiful, and I was 12 with a mustache and unibrow, pretty serious orthodontic problems. So I went home, and the day before my first day at this huge New Jersey public middle school, I shaved my head and came in with a unibrow and mustache and my dad’s T-shirt that said “Don’t Mess With Texas.” Basically, from then on, the only kids that were nice to me were the theater kids.
For more with Milioti as well as exclusive scoop on the upcoming season of How I Met Your Mother, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday.