Cristin Milioti Re-Visits Her Roots

On Tuesday Cristin Milioti, who is the star of the Broadway hit musical Once and the mysterious mother in the immensely popular television series How I Met Your Mother, came to The College of New Jersey to share her musical magic and whimsical, comical personality with her excited audience in Kendall Hall.

Cristin Milioti, who admitted that this was the first time she was performing or speaking at a college, seemed completely comfortable with the crowd when at one point during the night when asked about what being a female in the entertainment industry is like she responded with, “it’s hard out here for a female pimp.”

The all-around entertainment star was born and raised in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and even attended the Governor’s School program that used to be offered at TCNJ when she was 16, which is a rigorous summer program where Milioti studied at least 12 hours a day for four weeks. She said that that this program “changed her life” and that “this campus was super instrumental and inspirational” in deciding what she wanted to do with her life,  and made that summer “one of the best summers of her life.”

Milioti started off the night with a musical performance, in which she was accompanied by her fellow Once musicians Dave and Will. They started off with the song “Gold” from the Broadway musical, which received a cacophony of applause from everyone in the audience. Freshman Kayla Leiton could not believe that “a voice so big could come out of someone so small.”

She then did covers of multiple other songs including “Work Song” by Hozier, “Soon We’ll be Found” by Sia, a mashup of “Halo” by Beyonce and “Hyperballad” by Björk, “Four Five Seconds” by Rihanna, and “Parting Gift” by Fiona Apple, which she told the audience was a “song that got her through things.”

Milioti also played a few unnamed songs she had written herself, which she admitted to the crowd that it’s much harder to play those because “when it’s your own thing its very, very scary.”  She extended her musical performance, with much cajoling from the audience, and officially ended with a cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. For this performance, no mics were used and the trio transitioned to the front of the stage and connected with every single audience member present.

Milioti has been on multiple television, theater, and film sets during her acting career ranging from popular shows like How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, The Mindy Project, A to Z, and Fargo, to Tony award winning musicals like Once, to working alongside experienced actors like Leonardo DiCaprio on The Wolf of Wall Street. However, she does not believe that that transition from dramatically different character to character or from television or film set to the theater is difficult for her. In fact, she “likes going back and forth, A LOT.”

Even though she says that “theater is without a doubt the most exhausting thing one can do” she loves the experience. She explains how after the Tony’s and the pompous after party, the cast and crew of Once stood together around a piano until 6 a.m. singing and holding each other as they cried, each one not believing that a musical started in a basement in Boston could have gotten so big. With a television show or film, she likes that there’s something new every day and that she is able to “sit with a character and their journey for even longer”  than a musical, because those characters are always changing and developing.

Now, for all the How I Met Your Mother fans out there, Milioti admitted that she did not immediately know that her character (Tracy) on the show would be killed off by the writers of the show in the last episode. However, she “commends then for sticking to their guns because it was not a popular decision.”

The only aspect of it that she doesn’t agree with is that seven minutes were cut from the last episode by CBS, because it would have featured Ted and Robin having lunch along with a funeral scene for her character. However, the end of that chapter of her life brought her to a whole new book, and so you can catch Milioti on Fargo playing Betsy, the wife of a State Police Officer, when the show comes back this fall.