Canadian actress Cobie Smulders got her first big role when she was still a teenager on the show Veritas: The Quest, but her breakout role was as Robin Scherbatsky in How I Met Your Mother. That character allowed her to show all her comedic acting talents while keeping her working for almost a decade. When she wasn’t shooting the sitcom, she became Maria Hill in the MCU and did some small, interesting, indie films.
In the last few years, the actress has gotten steady work, voicing characters, and going back to the medium that has always loved her, TV, proving she can be a great lead (Stumptown), but doesn’t mind being a supporting character either (High School). After probably ending her MCU career in Secret Invasion, she’s already working on a couple of movies, which, as always, will show how funny, raw, dramatic, and empathic Smulders can be. For now, here are Cobie Smulders’ 10 best performances, ranked.
10 The LEGO Movie (2014)
The Lego Movie is all about Emmet (Chris Pratt), a normal LEGO guy who surprisingly is branded as “special” and must save the LEGO universe from Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the help of many other Lego characters.
A Memorable Wonder Woman
Some are still hoping the franchise will come back, and if that were the case, Smulders would reprise her role as Wonder Woman in it. Although it’s not the biggest of performances, the actress uses her voice talent to make the superhero sound fierce, smart, and loyal, making for a great complement to the real-life version played by Gal Gadot.
9 Alright Now (2018)
Also known as Songbird, Alright Now is about Joanne Sky (Smulders), a once-upon-a-time promising indie musician who never really made it, and has decided to leave that life behind and enroll in college to become a marine biologist.
Smulders Plays a Fun and Unique Character
The film was shot in less than a week and was vastly improvised, and yet Smulders still holds the character and story together, creating a unique, fun character that’s not like anyone she’s played before. The actress has said she would love to revisit the character, as it was a fun one, and it shows, as every moment on screen looks like Smulders is having the time of her life.
8 Friends from College (2017-2019)
Friends from College tells the story of a group of Harvard friends in their 40s who had become buddies during their college years. After they all reconnect, they discover that, sometimes, they still behave like they did back then.
A Fragile Character
There have been some great shows set in college, but not many are about those friendships decades later. Here, Smulders plays Lisa, the wife of writer Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key), as they have some marital problems, especially because he’s having an affair with another member of the friend group. The actress plays Lisa with some sarcasm but more fragility than it looks at first sight, as she unconsciously feels like her marriage might be on thin ice.
7 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was the sequel to the Tom Cruise-led Jack Reacher franchise. This time, Reacher wants to help Major Susan Turner (Smulders), who has been accused of a crime she hasn’t committed and is going to be judged for treason.
Smulders Goes Toe-to-Toe with Tom Cruise
Smulders shines as the military woman whose future is in the hands of Reacher. She’s smart, has a playful, intelligent chemistry with Cruise, and shows that she can handle action with the best of them. Even if she’s a supporting player, the actress is able to flesh out the character and create a 360 person with her own dreams, and motivations.
6 Safe Haven (2013)
- Release Date
- February 7, 2013
Safe Haven is an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book and tells the story of Katie (Julianne Hough), a woman with a troubling past and many secrets, who moves to North Carolina, and there falls in love with a widower named Alex (Josh Duhamel). When things are going great, her violent husband shows up looking for her.
An Underrated Supporting Role
Smulders has a supporting role as the friend Katie makes in the new town, as they’re neighbors. She plays the loving character who is always trying to help Katie, creating someone you would love to have by your side. The film has a surprising twist at the end, that explains what the characters’ motivations are, and Smulders’s performance works perfectly with it.
5 Stumptown (2019-2020)
Adapted from a comic of the same name, Stumptown is the story of Dex Parios, a military veteran with PTSD who becomes a private investigator in Portland, Oregon, so she can pay her gambling debts while living with her younger brother.
Stumptown Offers a Multi-Layered Role for Smulders
As the lead, Smulders was both a sarcastic, smart, and boozy detective, but also shows she’s still broken by what happened in the military and a tragic incident in her past with what looked like the love of her life. The actress can show all those sides and switch between them with ease, while also having a playful chemistry with both Jake Johnson and Michael Ealy. Surprisingly, this TV series also has one of the first Monica Barbaro great performances.
4 The Avengers (2012)
When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and a band of Aliens try to invade New York, only the mightiest heroes on Earth can save the planet. That’s if they learn to work together and can become The Avengers.
Helping to Assemble The Avengers
This was Smulders’ first appearance as Maria Hill, and it might still be her best. As Nick Fury’s right-hand woman, the actress (and character) is important to the plot, proves she’s hardcore, has some sarcastic quips, and shows time and time again why she’s one of the most important members of S.H.I.E.L.D. The actress has kept playing the character on and off for 10 years, and she’s always a great presence in the movies, even if sometimes she’s only there to move the plot along or share some important piece of information.
3 The Intervention (2016)
A group of friends meets at the summer home of one of them, to share some time together, or at least that is what Ruby (Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza) think before they discover this is an intervention for their marriage. That’s the story of The Intervention.
Smulders Filmed with a Broken Leg
Directed by Clea Duvall, the whole cast is great in this pseudo-version of The Big Chill, where every character is allowed to be as playful as possible. Smulders plays the dotting wife of a career-obsessed man, and she knows how to play that note very well, while also showing how hurt she is underneath. The actress broke her leg days before filming started, and Duvall decided to incorporate it into the plot.
2 Unexpected (2015)
Unexpected is about Samantha (Smulders), a high school teacher who finds out that she’s pregnant, and the same happens to Jasmine (Gail Bean), one of her best students. Those strange circumstances bond the two ladies, as they share everything good and bad about the pregnancies.
Pregnany While Filming
This is a sweet film that allowed Smulders to show a more vulnerable and raw part of her acting, as she’s just as lost and scared of everything that’s happening to her, as her student. The film is small, and simple, yet very real and makes audiences feel good. Smulders went pure method here, as she was really pregnant when shooting the movie and there were no baby bump prosthetics needed.
1 How I Met Your Mother (2005-20014)
How I Met Your Mother tells the story of five friends in New York while they’re living in their 20s and early 30s. The lead, Ted (Josh Radnor), is remembering their adventures and telling his kids how he, eventually, met their mother.
Cobie Smulders’ Best Performance
Smulders starts the show as the entry point for the audience, as she’s new in the city and in the group, and her character becomes the lead’s romantic interest for most of the show. The TV series had some great episodes that allowed Smulders to show all of her acting talents, be it singing and dancing, physical comedy, romantic chemistry, and heart, as her character started as a young journalist who was only thinking about her career and ended as someone who was in love, and wanted to get married in white, while still having a great professional job.