After eight long seasons, it's official: Fans of CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother have finally met the mother — even if series protagonist Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) hasn't met her yet.
The mother, toting her trademark yellow umbrella, was introduced at the end of last night's season eight finale "Something New." She's played by actress Cristin Milioti. And while Milioti only delivers a single line — "One ticket to Far Hampton, please" — the seconds-long appearance instantly overshadowed the rest of episode. Watch:
So: After eight seasons, what do we know about the woman who will finally win Ted Mosby's heart? Here, a guide:
First off: Who is Cristin Milioti?
A 27-year-old actress most famous for her Tony-nominated performance in Broadway's Once in 2012. Though primarily known for her stage work, Milioti also appeared in last year's Mike Birbiglia-directed movie Sleepwalk with Me, and will star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorcese's upcoming The Wolf of Wall Street.
How was she cast?
Very quietly. Though series co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas won't reveal how many actresses read for the part, their audition was from a script titled "USC Student Thesis Film" to ensure it wouldn't receive any undue attention. Producers whittled the list down to three "lovely, wonderful actresses" who each screen-tested with Josh Radnor, before finally selecting Milioti. "Part of what helped us is our casting director Marisa [Ross], she sort of has been talking about Cristin for two years now," said Bays at Entertainment Weekly. "It helped that she turned us onto her and then the more we got to know Cristin and see her work, the more we realized, 'Yeah, she's the right choice.'"
How do we know she's really playing the mother?
After eight seasons, fans are used to being misdirected, teased, and tricked about the true identity of the mother. After all, the mystery has been dragged out since the show's September 2005 premiere. But check your cynicism at the door: A CBS rep confirmed to numerous sources, including The Hollywood Reporter, that yes, Milioti's character is really the future bride of series protagonist Ted Mosby.
Did the show always plan to reveal the mother in the season eight finale?
Yes — and if the show hadn't been picked up for a ninth and final season by CBS, that brief glimpse would have been all that fans ever got to see of her. "One of our hard and fast rules [when we thought we were doing eight seasons] was that we didn't want to meet her until the very end," series creator Carter Bays tells Entertainment Weekly. If the show had ended after eight seasons, as originally planned, the mother would have appeared only briefly in the series finale. "We always liked the poetic ending of, you never really get to know her, you just see her face or something," added Bays.
Will Milioti co-star in season nine?
If seeing the mother got you hyped up for an entire season spent getting to know her better, you might want to slow down: A statement released by CBS seems to indicate that the entire ninth season will take place during Barney and Robin's wedding weekend, which happens immediately before Ted meets the mother. "Our ninth season will tell the epic story of the longest wedding weekend ever," warns Bays — which seems to imply that while audiences now know who she is, Ted still won't meet the mother until the end of the series.
But I want to see more of the mother now!
You can! Just not on How I Met Your Mother. Milioti is best known for her work on Broadway, but she's also racked up some guest spots on popular TV shows over the years, including roles as Catherine Sacramoni on HBO's The Sopranos ("Mr. & Mrs. John Sacramoni Request," "Moe n' Joe," and "Stage 5") and Abby Flynn on NBC's 30 Rock ("TGS Hates Women"). Fortunately, some of her performances are also available on YouTube.
Here's a clip from her appearance on 30 Rock:
Here she is performing "Falling Slowly" alongside Once co-star Steve Kazee:
Here she is in an interview with Broadway.com: