Cobie Smulders is best known as the wisecracking TV anchor Robin Scherbatsky in the hit TV show "How I Met Your Mother," and as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and other Marvel productions. The 33-year-old native of Vancouver, British Columbia, can also be seen on-screen this year in "Results," playing a personal trainer, and "Unexpected," opening Friday, July 24, in which she stars as a high school teacher who, along with one of her African-American students, has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Newsday contributor Lewis Beale spoke with the actress by phone from Savannah, Georgia, where she is filming "Intervention," a low-budget indie production. Smulders recently broke her leg and was forced to drop out of "Confirmation," an HBO film about the Anita Hill hearings. She declined to discuss the accident. The part in "Intervention" was rewritten to accommodate her injury.
You have two children of your own. How did the experience of motherhood inform your performance in "Unexpected?"
I was pregnant with my second child while shooting this movie. I had a lot of information about motherhood. Also, this story is based on the director's real life story, so we coupled those things with my own experience. I am interested in female characters that are challenging. It was such an interesting take on a film about pregnancy. I feel like this is from the female point of view, shows a woman's journey physically and emotionally as well. And these women are from very different circumstances.
It's a big jump from a small indie film like "Unexpected" to appearing in the "Avengers" movie. When you became part of the Marvel universe, did you notice any difference in terms of how it affected your fandom or career?
It's really exciting to be part of the Marvel stuff. These stories and characters have a long history. And it's cool seeing these characters on-screen together. It's like a whole other world, and it's cool to go to Comic-Con to see how excited they get.
On "How I Met Your Mother," you played a Canadian who moved south to take a job at a U.S. news station. What was it you liked about the role?
I was proud of the work I did on the show, and I was lucky to play a character who had a really nice story arc. It was cool to be able to play all those colors, instead of just the angry ex-girlfriend.
You were also the butt of a lot of Canada jokes on the show. How many of them did you come up with yourself?
I didn't pitch a lot of jokes; we had a great Canadian writer who was in charge of the more random, obscure jokes. I was responsible for knowing how much we could joke. I didn't find anything offensive; I hope no one else did. Our country is full of lovely people who can take a joke.
You've been here a long time, but I was wondering: how are you most Canadian, and how are you most American?
It's hard for me to do the stereotypes. I live in such big cities [Vancouver and L.A.], I feel Americans and Canadians are very similar for me. I've always been very environmental; that's very Canadian.
You were a model for a while, but have said you really disliked it. How come?
It's a tricky industry. I was very young, and it wasn't for me. I got a lot of traveling out of it, but I felt I wanted to do more. That was my big take-away.
I noticed that when you Google your name, one of the first entries that comes up is "The 20 Hottest Photos of Cobie Smulders." Is that something that bothers you in any way?
We live in this world where everything is online and it never goes away. It doesn't bother me, because it's not in my world. It doesn't really affect me at this point.