how we met cobie smulders

We catch up with the Canadian actress to talk football, The Avengers, and not being typecast.

by i-D Staff and Samuel Fragoso
02 June 2015, 12:46am

Described by Esquire as "Canada's greatest export," Cobie Smulders started her career in front of the camera as a teenage model. This experience, which allowed her to travel around the world at age 19, would be later referred to by Smulders as not really "my bag." In fact, she "kind of hated" the profession, which aimed to objectify her for profit at every turn.

The unseemly nature of the modelling industry forced Smulders to reconsider her acting dreams (for a minute, marine biology was the plan). However, the Vancouver born performer ended up landing a series of small guest roles on cable television dramas. After five years of steadily building a body of work, Smulders landed a recurring part on How I Met Your Mother as Robin Scherbatsky, the cigar-smoking, bourbon-drinking television reporter, a part that would come to completely change both her career and life.

Now a mother to one daughter and wife to SNL star Taran Killam, Smulders is a bonafide star. Most recently she's lent her abilities to director Andrew Bujalski's fiercely intelligent Results, a Broadcast News for the 21st century in which she plays a personal trainer that goes, often comically, above and beyond the call of duty. To great effect, Smulders imbues her character with an mélange of conflicting sentiments; she's emotionally distant, yet yearns for companionship; she appears disenchanted with her place in life, yet shows little interest in uprooting. She's a conundrum wrapped in a paradox burrowed inside a toned early 30s woman who needs direction but keeps jettisoning the map.

In watching How I Met Your Mother for nearly a decade, it's always been clear that Smulders has untapped potential. With Results, the floodgates of her gifts have finally been opened. It's anyone's guess what may follow, but I suspect the best is yet to come.

Is working out an integral part of your life?
I don't like gyms so much. I like do to exercise that involves turning off your brain a little bit. I played football for 12 years and I like that because you've been running for an hour without realising it because you've been focused on the game. So it was interesting forcing myself to do training where you have to focus on what you're doing and what your positions is and how that's affecting this muscle and what you're trying to strengthen in your body. All of these things that I never thought about. I would just always focus on being healthy. I got really into it for awhile, but then I had a baby. But I had to educate myself a little bit in making this movie.

Were you any good at football?
I was good at it. I played for such a long time. I hit that place when I was 17/18 when I had to ask myself, "Do I want to continue doing this?" And of course I couldn't because very few women make a career out of it. But I think the thing I liked about soccer was the mathematical side of it. I remember thinking about hitting the ball at this angle, so that it would go to a certain player in this spot.

Do you ever feel like you're working out to look a certain way rather than to feel a certain way?
It's hard to say because the only time I'm really working out is if it's relevant to a script or a character. In my personal life I'm very focused on the health. Being healthy is a top priority for me. Of course, in the movie these personal trainers are taking it to the extreme.

Considering this is not like the work you've done in the past, what about the world of Results appealed to you?
For me, it was an opportunity to work with an intriguing director. I watched his other films, and Computer Chess is so out there, I was excited to try something new and to see what the experience was going to be. The cast was attractive to me—both creatively and physically.

Do you prefer to do a smaller film like this, over something like The Avengers?
It's just different. They're great things that come out of working on both big and small films. The thing about doing a Marvel movie is that there's a fan-base like no other and you get to be part of this world that is so creative and so supported by all these amazing people. But it's also nice having the intimacy of a small crew--everybody working together and helping each other out. It becomes a group effort because you don't have as much money.

Thinking about some of the characters you've played -- Robin (How I Met Your Mother), Tiffany (They Came Together) and now Kat (Results)—they all have trouble getting close to anyone romantically. Is that something you look for in a role, or identify with?
I hear what you're saying. Robin was the ever-single girl. I think it's hard to say. They are so different to me, but I do think there are some similarities there in these characters, which I don't really find in my personal life.

Do you ever worry about being pigeon-hold, especially after the popularity of How I Met Your Mother?
The cool thing about HIMYM was that it never felt to me like a true sitcom. This is a sitcom-comedy, that's what it is. But on the same comedy my character got to go through an arc where she realised she was not able to have children. The whole episode revolved around that, which took a huge dramatic turn. And because of our writers and because of our creators, because they were so good, these episodes would have a lot of heart. They would allow them to play out, rather than always looking for a laugh. So as an actor I feel like I could've played Robin for five more years. They threw a lot at me. I was a fucking Canadian pop star in the 80s on that show. There was something always new and challenging every week.

People would've been very okay with you reprising your role for another five years.
(Laughs) I would have too, but it just didn't work out that way. 

The Avengers
how i met your mother
andrew bujalski
cobie smulders
maria hill