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MAR
19
3 YEARS

'How I Met Your Mother' Run Brings Good Karma For Becki Newton

The guest star -- and recently cast lead in a pilot from the "HIMYM" showrunners -- tells THR about campaigning to work alongside Neil Patrick Harris, finding a home on TV after "Ugly Betty" and not being the "obvious leading lady."

Becki Newton
CBS

Nearing the end of its seventh season and enjoying its highest ratings ever, How I Met Your Mother is not the worst series for an actor to book a multi-episode guest arc. So interested parties may want to ring up showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. That's what Becki Newton did.

"Six months ago I decided, for no real reason other than I've loved him forever, that I should be Barney's [Neil Patrick Harris] love interest in How I Met Your Mother," Newton tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Somehow they didn’t think I was totally insane."

Quite the contrary. Per Newton's pitch, they created Quinn (aka Karma), a stripper who woos Barney and, over the span of just three episodes, finds herself moving in with the series' eternal bachelor.

"It was incredibly arrogant of me to think that I could do something like that, but it just shows how much I really wanted it to happen," she says, laughing. "You never know until you ask."

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes With the Showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

The Ugly Betty alum has wanted to play the female version of Barney Stinson for some time, so acting opposite him ended up being being the next best thing.

"It’s really surreal to watch something for so long and then become a part of it," she says, noting what a fan she is of Harris in particular. "One of the first scenes we shot was us seemingly naked on a couch in the middle of a club, and I thought to myself, 'All of my dreams are coming true.'"

But like so many of Barney's romantic interests before her, Quinn's turn on How I Met Your Mother won't last. Luckily for Newton, the experience has possibly opened the door to a new full-time gig. Bays, Thomas and fellow EP Chris Harris recently cast her as the lead in their Fox pilot, The Goodwin Games.

The potential series centers on three siblings -- played by Newton, Scott Foley and Jake Lacey -- who return to their hometown to compete in an elaborate competition over their late father's fortune.

"I was reading a lot of different scripts," she says. "I already new that I loved working with these people and I loved the way they wrote for me. Then I read it, and I was completely blown away."

The three writers' track record for finding humor in more dramatic situations immediately struck Newton. "From the surface, a show about someone dying... Not that funny," she admits. "But the way that they present it... it is bring so much heart and comedy together. That’s what they’ve already done so well with How I Met Your Mother, and that’s how I know it will blow people away."

VIDEO: Neil Patrick Harris at THR's Emmy Roundtable

But Netwon says she has gotten good at curbing expectations with pilots. After the end of Ugly Betty in 2010, she scored the lead on NBC's Love Bites, an anthology comedy that got retooled and bounced around the schedule before finally airing its brief run in the summer. While she was waiting for the delayed premiere, Newton filmed another pilot for CBS that didn't get picked up.

"Making that decision after Ugly Betty was cancelled, there was so much pressure to find something that would get picked up," she tells THR. "I’ve stopped worrying so much about the outcome beyond creating one great pilot episode. I can’t control where it fits on a schedule or how it fits into a network. I just know that if I love a character [and] I love the script, from there you keep going. I’ll be grateful for the experience whether it goes further or not."

Newton is grateful for a bit, particularly her 85 episodes playing sweet and sour receptionist Amanda Tanen on Ugly Betty. She says the character still influences her choices and the way she looks at roles.

"I’m always looking for that sense of fun and adventure and even unlikeability," she says. "I don’t want to be the obvious leading lady. I have the most fun playing these girls who are a little damaged and maybe a little insecure and trying to overcompensate for it."

Newton next appears in the March 19 episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV