Hilary Duff hints at 'How I Met Your Mother' star appearing in 'How I Met Your Father'

Erin Jensen
USA TODAY

A new comedy following in the footsteps of a legen – wait for it – dary series has arrived.

Hulu released the first two of 10 episodes of "How I Met Your Father" Tuesday, a show that flips the premise of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" (2005-2014), in which Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), relays to his children how he crossed paths with their mom while divulging stories about his close-knit friend group. The new iteration, to be released weekly on Tuesdays, opens in the year 2050 with an older version of the main character Sophie (Kim Cattrall), who calls her son to tell him about connecting with his dad after she's had "just enough" wine "to include the sexy bits." She's noticeably not wearing a wedding ring.

Hilary Duff portrays 2022 Sophie, a 29-year-old photographer whose romantic life hasn't fully developed. A producer on the series, Duff says she finds common ground with Sophie, though they're in two very different places. Duff is a mom to three – Luca, 9, Banks, 3, and Mae, who turns 1 in March. She married singer Matthew Koma, the father of her two daughters, in 2019. Sophie, in comparison, hasn't had much luck despite going on 87 Tinder dates in just one year. 

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"She's positive, she's a little dorky, and I really relate to that," Duff, 34, says. "I don't think she quite knows her worth. I relate to that. She really leans on her friends, but she's willing to take a risk and to try anything, and I really relate to that as well." 

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By the end of the premiere we've met the father of Sophie's son, Cattrall says, as flashes of four possibilities are shown on screen: a marine biologist named Ian (Daniel Augustin) who relocated to Australia for work; Charlie (Tom Ainsley) who impulsively moved to New York after striking up a relationship with Sophie's roommate, Valentina (Francia Raisa); one of Sophie's new friends, newly-engaged bar owner Sid (Suraj Sharma); or the cynical Jesse (Chris Lowell) soured after his rejected proposal goes viral.   

"How I Met Your Father" star Hilary Duff's character Sophie first meets Sid (Suraj Sharma) and Jesse (Chris Lowell) in a ride-hailing vehicle.

The debut episode of "Father" is dedicated in memory of Bob Saget, who voiced the older Ted in "Mother." Saget died on Jan. 9 at 65 after police found him unresponsive in his hotel room at The Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Florida.  

Duff says the show's creators are borrowing from "Mother" because "it was such a great concept," but cautions "Sophie’s so different from Ted Mosby."  

Elizabeth Berger, who created "How I Met Your Father" with Isaac Aptaker, says the pair felt the pressure of being so linked to its predecessor.

"'How I Met Your Mother' has a very passionate fan base, and we're keenly aware that are there are a lot of eyeballs tracking this and wondering what we're doing with it and how we're going to honor the original and are we going to live up to it?" she says. "We feel all that. That being said, it was too exciting an opportunity for us to let that scare us. We were two big fans of the original, and we loved this chapter of life and haven't gotten to explore it."

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"How I Met Your Mother" serves as the inspiration for Hulu's "Father." The original series starred Neil Patrick Harris, far left, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, and Alyson Hannigan.

The new series makes callbacks to the original. Sid and Jesse live in an apartment that housed many characters on "Mother," initially Ted and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel).

"It was a total score," Jesse says in the premiere. "We got it from this old married couple who posted it on the Wesleyan alumni group. We even got them to leave their swords (used on the previous series for duels)."

Aptaker hopes to "satisfy the fans" of "Mother" with the Easter eggs but acknowledges "it's really about a balancing act of making sure this is a group of characters who stand on their own feet, and then finding the little moments of connection. Our hope is that if you were living under a rock through those nine years, and have never seen or heard of 'How I Met Your Mother,' you could sit down and watch this show and wouldn't be missing anything." 

Having the two shows exist in the same version of New York, Aptaker says, "opens the doors to limitless possibility for Easter eggs and crossovers." And, as Duff hints, an appearance by one of the members of the original cast. When asked if any of the actors reached out to her or if she reached out to them, she is tight-lipped.

"I can't say," she says. "We may or may not have one of them in the season this year." 

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Hilary Duff reveals "There's a little tease of something happening" this season between her character Sophie and Jesse, played by Chris Lowell.

She is more forthcoming when addressing the chemistry between Sophie and Jesse. 

"I think that people are going to assume something goes on with us in the season, which it does," she says. "It's really sweet. They're just two messy people that probably aren't in a great place to start a relationship. There's a little tease of something happening."

"Jesse's been burned so badly," Lowell says of his character. "He immediately sees any hiccup as a dead end, and is having to really learn the nuances of a relationship and understanding that people can disagree and still like each other, people can have different opinions on things and that doesn't mean that they're doomed to fail." 

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