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'Liberal Arts' star Richard Jenkins learns to face his fears

Richard Jenkins (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Richard Jenkins (Larry Busacca/Getty Images) Credit: Richard Jenkins (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Stellar character actor Richard Jenkins has been in three Coen Brothers films and six Farrelly Brothers movies.

Now he can add Josh Radnor to his list of frequent collaborators.

Jenkins, who was in Radnor's directorial debut "Happythankyoumoreplease," reunites with the "How I Met Your Mother" star for his dramedy "Liberal Arts."

In it, Radnor's Jesse falls for the younger Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) after returning to his alma mater for the retirement party of a favorite professor played by Jenkins.

amNewYork spoke with Jenkins.

Why did you decide to work with Josh again? I really liked him personally. He's a really smart guy and I liked his script. I'm from a small school in the Midwest and I loved college too, so I liked the whole idea of the movie.

Did you have a professor who had a big effect on you? Yes, Dr. John Ficca who ran the drama department at Illinois Wesleyan University, where I went to school. As a freshman, I didn't participate very much. I had very little experience in the theater. And I was terrified. You had [to] sign up and audition for every play. I never did. I didn't know how. He called me in at the end of the year and said, "Who are you? I know you're in my class, but you didn't audition for anything." I said, "I don't know how, and I'm scared." From then on, he gave me a chance. He encouraged me to become an actor.

Did you relate to your character? It's just that. It's a personal piece and I think most actors are drawn to that. I think fear of the future, when you hit my age, is something a lot of people go through. Now what do I do? ... There's a million questions people have and I just thought this guy was part of that mix and I liked that.

What are your fears? I've got a lot of them. I was talking to my [family and] I said, "I'm still terrified that I won't be any good." I'm 65. What the hell am I worried about?

You've worked with Josh twice now. Has he talked to you about guest starring on "How I Met Your Mother"? No, no, he hasn't said a word to me about that. Josh knows I don't travel well. [Laughs]

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