It hasn’t been a very Robin Sparkles–y kind of season for How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders, the show’s whiskey-drinking Canadian Robin Scherbatsky: We’ve seen her get drunk under her desk, start court-appointed therapy, and fall back into bed with the less sensitive of her two BFF-exes, Barney, while they were both in relationships — and she with her therapist. Now she’s pregnant, or so she told Barney at the end of last episode. We spoke with Smulders ahead of tonight’s big reveal — we’ll find out if our favorite Canucks fan is really knocked up — and, dancing around spoilers, got her thoughts on her heavy season, the Barney relapse, and his bride’s identity.
Let’s get right into it: Robin’s pregnant? What the fuck?
[Impersonating a valley girl.] W-T-F!
But you do realize that was everyone’s reaction?
Um, yeah. It was mine. I was lucky to get a bit of a heads-up on this arc that we’re in the middle of, but I was very surprised myself.
Carter Bays and Craig Thomas told us before the season started that it’s a “huge Robin season.” Did they tell you that, too?
No, I read that in magazines and online. I was like, Oh! Okay! I love how our show — it’s so quick. That’s why I was saying that I’m lucky I even caught wind of this story arc. I literally went in to ask them something else; I was talking to them about Robin cheating on Kevin [her therapist-boyfriend] with Barney. I was like, “Where is this going? Where are we heading with this dynamic?” So they sort of laid it out for me and I was like, “Ohhh, okay … okay. Good to know.”
Why did you go in to ask them that? Were you concerned about the story line?
Well, yeah. Sometimes I feel like things happen really quickly. I’ve said that twice now, but meant it in different ways. In [this case], I meant in terms of really seeing a relationship through, it just sort of ends in two episodes. Or like, you’re dating someone — I’ve been dating Kevin four months, and we’ve never slept together. I’m always focused on the realism of what we’re doing, and then I’m like, Ohhhh, but we’re on a sitcom. Sometimes you have to sort of put that aside and focus on the funny.
Were you worried how viewers might react? Like, there would be a backlash? Pregnancy story lines can make fans especially critical.
I wasn’t worried about a fan backlash. Regardless of whether people like it or hate it, I think it’s an interesting story. I think that [the writers] take these characters really seriously, and they care about them. We try to make people laugh. We try to find stories that people relate to. The reason that I love our show so much is I feel like there are so many elements of it that are very relatable and very true to life, whether it be pregnancy, breakups, dating best friends, dating their other best friends. [Laughs.] That happens to people, right? That happens in the world, right? [Laughs.]
Yeah, unfortunately for the best friends. As shocking as the pregnancy is, we know from a very early-on Ted voice-over that Robin doesn’t have kids.
Right. [Awkward pause.] I can’t tell you anything! Um, I think that this coming episode takes a turn, and it sort of clarifies that whole point.
Okay. Is Ted going to be there for Robin in a way that might bring the two of you closer?
Yes. [Another awkward pause.]
Can you elaborate?
How are you at remembering callbacks, like that Robin doesn’t have kids? Are you ever at table reads and everyone’s like, “Oh yeaaaahhhh”?
Well, yeah. It’s been seven years, so there are definitely moments where someone reminds you of something and you’re like, “Oh my God. Yeah!” Or there are moments where you’re like [in a nasally, know-it-all voice], “No, no, no. In season two, in episode fourteen, this happened.” Or there are times when you’re like, “What? Enrique Iglesias was on our show? What? Oh yeah, he was. Okay.”
You had a really sad line recently: “I’m such a mess, why do you even like me?” It’s like, Robin isn’t just a big focus of the season, she’s also very depressed. Had you asked Carter and Craig for some meat or more range?
I certainly wasn’t demanding anything. They sort of give us all a moment to shine, or to have our own focus or story lines, and they’re very good at keeping that balance. I mean, before I did How I Met Your Mother, I was not considered a comedic actress. So I love these more dramatic episodes. It’s definitely a different energy on the set, but I think it just adds more to the weight of our show. I think that what’s coming out on [tonight’s episode] is an extremely relatable topic that a lot of people are facing right now. So it’s very cool, again, to do story lines that are very prevalent in the world. And it’s not just like, “Wah, wah. I slipped and I fell!” Which, you know, sitcoms can kind of fall into the setup, setup, punch-line stuff.
You’re also getting into action with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Before he cast you in that, he said he was considering you for a Wonder Woman project. So he’s clearly a fan. Did he ever tell you why?
No! If he did, I would throw up in my mouth. I mean, the Wonder Woman thing was a very kind comment, I think. I was never in touch with studios about it or anything like that. But we had so much fun shooting [The Avengers]. We had days when it was just us working — and, oh, 200 extras — but, you know, in the inner circle, it was nice to sit by the monitor with him and watch him take on this ginormous project with great ease.
You’re not a superhero in the movie, but you do have sick costumes?
I do. They’re very sleek, and very leather. And if she had a superpower it would be that she is hyperintelligent; a very nice, fine woman who has all the answers.*
Sounds like this role might turn you into the sexy-brunette-vixen type.
You know, fingers crossed! If I can be seen as somewhat sexual, if only to my fiancé, after having a child and turning 30, I will be happy for us.
Carter and Craig told us that by the end of the season, we will know the identity of Barney’s bride-to-be. I’m not going to ask you who it is, since we’ve already established you won’t give anything away. But: Was it who you were expecting, and will we die when we find out?
I wasn’t expecting it, no. And I think that people will be very surprised.
*This quote has been updated to show that Smulders didn’t mean to suggest that her Avengers character has superpowers.